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A Case Study of Zebda : Republicanism, métissage and Authenticity in Contemporary France

Barbara Lebrun

Résumé : This paper looks at the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of Zebda’s cultu­ral iden­tity, per­cei­ved as ‘alter­na­tive’ or ‘oppo­si­tio­nal’ in French popu­lar music. Using the plu­ri­dis­ci­pli­nary method of Cultural Studies, we exa­mine how artists, pro­du­cers and media create dis­cour­ses that attempt to unify a cer­tain dif­fe­rence from the ‘mains­tream’, while natio­nal and cultu­ral conven­tions rela­ti­vize this iden­tity. Zebda’s com­mit­ment to repu­bli­ca­nism is both pro­mo­ted as ‘radi­cal’ and in line with natio­nal tra­di­tions. The band’s hybrid music paral­lels the evo­lu­tion of French iden­tity towards mul­ti­cultu­ra­lism, but remains bound by the concept of inte­gra­tion. Zebda’s com­mer­cial suc­cess since 1999 is also repre­sen­ta­tive of the diver­sity of per­cep­tion of cultu­ral iden­ti­ties, at once mapped over the ‘mains­tream’ and the ‘alter­na­tive’.

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Thèmes et/ou mots-clés
Métissage – 
mainstream –