Jacques Toubon

Jacques Toubon was born in 1941. A graduate of the French National School of Administration (ENA), he began his career as a member of the civil service for local administration. Then he held several positions in ministerial cabinets among which, from 1971 to 1976, the personal staff of Jacques Chirac who was successively Minister for Relations with Parliament, Minister of Agriculture, Home Secretary and Prime Minister. A Member of Parliament for Paris at the French Assemblée Nationale from 1981 to 1993 and Mayor of the 13th district of Paris from 1983 to 2001, Jacques Toubon is now City Councilor in Paris. From 1984 to 1988 he was the General Secretary of the right-wing and Gaullist party: Rassemblement pour la République (RPR). He was appointed Minister of Culture and Francophonie (April 1993-May 1995) and then Minister of Justice (May 1995-June 1997). From 1997 to 1998, he was Special Adviser to President Jacques Chirac. He is a member of the political bureau of the European People’s Party (EPP). State Councilor, Jacques Toubon was elected President of the Eurimages Fund (Council of Europe) in November 2002. In July 2004, he was elected to the European Parliament. More recently, Mr. Toubon has been elected President of the National Museum of the History of Immigration.

Website : www.histoire-immigration.fr


Immigration in the History of the French Nation: an american Model for a New French Museum?

After the revolution of 1789, the French Republic was an exceptional case in industrial Europe of the 19th century.  While the great majority of European countries saw their countryside abandoned as migrants left in search of a better life in the new world, France had always been a rural country, relatively scarcely populated.  Its birth rate dropped before the rest of Europe.  At the beginning of the 19th century, it was clear that France needed to attract immigrants if industry were to thrive there as well.  The republican concept of a ‘nation’ and the influence of its ideas made France the first land to welcome and offer freedom to many people in exile and to victims of conflict in Europe.  Thus, the history of France, like that of the U.S., has been marked by immigration and the Jus Solis (citizenship determined by the person’s birthplace vs. Jus Sanguinis, citizenship determined by that of the person’s parents). But while in America, this was engrained very early into the national identity, with the ‘melting pot’, it took France until the end of the 20th century to recognize this reality.  In the U.S., the Ellis Island Immigration Museum has existed for twenty years in acknowledgment of the island’s historical importance as a gateway to the better life the immigrants came in search of in America.  France, following the American model, decided in 2004 to create an equivalent institution, la Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration.  Through this historical endeavor, it might be possible that the two models of American and French assimilation, which have often been contrasted as they struggled to redefine themselves, will show that they have more similarities than differences.


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