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Nation, Culture and Identity in a French language Corsican Newspaper John E Richardson, Stephen Huckerby & Mike Williams Department of Language Studies,

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1 Nation, Culture and Identity in a French language Corsican Newspaper John E Richardson, Stephen Huckerby & Mike Williams Department of Language Studies, Canterbury Christ Church 14 December 2007

2 Corse-Matin: research questions What kinds of stories does the newspaper print and how does these contents relate to the lives of the inhabitants of the islands? To what extent is a tension between 'French- ness' and 'Corsican-ness' reflected in Corse- Matin's reporting? Are there any notable absences in reporting outputs?

3 Corsica: mountain island Population of 260,000 One quarter is ,000 immigrants (60- 70% North African) French region since 1767 Strong sense of Corsican identity, culture and language

4 Nationalism & Language Politics Nationalist struggle has raged since mid seventies Occasionally tarnished by reactionary elements - Arabi Fora! Corsicans did not just learn to speak French in the schools, they learned a language hierarchy in which their own language was dismissed as a worthless patois (Jaffe, 1999: 17) Language and political identity - having a unique language is proof of a unique culture (cf. Balibar, 1991 ).

5 Representing Corsicans Corse-Matin is a private enterprise, but for all Corsicans, its their newspaper. For them, its like a public service Corse Matin, cest une entreprise privée. Mais pour tous les Corses, cest leur journal. Pour eux, cest comme un service public

6 Political Advocacy, Political Neutrality C-M stays resolutely neutral on political issues Corse-Matin […] is not an newspaper of opinion, [its] a newspaper of information The strength of Corse-Matin is precisely its power to remain above the debate, to give everyone the opportunity to speak and in so doing to keep a position of neutrality which is certainly criticized by some people but which is at the same time a strength, an advantage, because the newspaper cannot be accused, I would say, of supporting this or that position. La Corse, C-M & the burden of representation

7 Reporting Nationalism we try, as far as is possible, to remain neutral, and to take into account everyones views, without taking sides. Our role is to serve everyone, on behalf of everyone, the nationalists, people from the right, or the left, or the extreme right […] we leave them to it, without a precise editorial line nous essayons autant que possible de rester neutre, de tenir compte des avis de tout le monde, mais sans parti pris Cest de notre rôle, de servir tout le monde, pour tout le monde, puisque les nationalistes, les gens de droite, ou de gauche ou de lextrême droite […] Sans un truc, sans une ligne éditoriale precise

8 Reflecting island life high « pénetration » Bought by about 25% of population; read by around twice that. proximité – close to its readers needs and interests 28% of stories were located in Ajaccio or Bastia, despite housing about half the islands population. The outlying 10 per cent of articles (n= 137) reported the events of some 59 villages

9 Reporting deficit: Corsican Language Only 1.2% of articles contained any Corsican words (n= 16); 0.5% were entirely written in Corsican (n= 7) Perhaps in 20 years, if all the schools teach Corsican, in all the schools, perhaps we would have people reading Corsican. But now, I think, with a few exceptions […] the overwhelming majority of readers would not be able to read Corsican

10 A voice against more Corsican language reporting: I don't think that there's a place for the Corsican language in the newspaper. French is the common denominator for all Corsicans. But Corsican isnt the common denominator for all readers. Thats the way it is. In addition theres an enormous number of people who dont speak Corsican. And more and more, despite the courses that are offered, the language is being lost. So, we do have a few columns in Corsican, which apparently are greatly appreciated, people who do speak Corsican tell us so. I think we do enough.

11 Reporting deficit: North African Corsicans Its extremely rare to see Arabic or Muslim names in the newspaper « Ça dépend, surtout dans les faits divers » « specialiste de la justice. Et en France on dit des faits divers, c'est à dire, tous ce qu'il est enquetes criminelles » Donc: les faits divers = either news in brief or news about criminal investigations.

12 Le Marseillais: I come from Marseille, its an ethnic city […] lots of black people, all that, myself I dont have a problem talking about that. But here you get the impression that it bothers the editorial staff. I hear them saying: another Arab. To start with I found it a bit shocking. […] Its as though its a bit of a taboo subject. Because after all there is a kind of racism on the island, they find it hard to accept other communities, right? Theres a third of the population who are racist, racist against, in inverted commas, the mainland French and against the North Africans, the Tunisians and Algerians. I dont know if its typical of an island community

13 Conclusions A popular newspaper for an island community riven by cultural and political conflict Like other commercial papers, Corse-Matin constructs and represents what it conceives as the middle-ground of public opinion to avoid taking sides and thus to sell to a wider segment of readers. Ambivalence to Corsican illustrates the reluctance to engage with cultural, never mind political, nationalism But the paper does embrace a form of regional, folkloric and depoliticised Corsican identity North African Corsicans are not only economically marginal, they are also marginal to Corse-Matins constructed Corsican identity

14 Political advocacy >

15 Corsican language Peut-être dans vingt ans, si toutes les écoles enseignent le corse, dans toutes les écoles, peut-être quon aurait des lecteurs corses. Mais maintenant je pense qu'à part quelques exceptions […] la grande majorité des lecteurs ne pourrait pas lire le corse, hein? Je ne pense pas quil y ait une place pour la langue corse dans le journal. La langue française est le dénominateur commun de tous les Corses. Mais le corse n'est pas le dénominateur commun de tous les lecteurs. Voilà. En plus. il y a énormément de gens qui ne parlent pas le corse. De plus en plus, malgré tous les cours qu'on a donnés, ça c'est perdu. Donc nous, on a quelques rubriques de langue corse, qui sont apparamment très appreciées, les gens qui parlent le corse le disent. Je pense que ça suffit, peut-être, il faudrait faire un peu plus, un peu plus moderne. Il rend peut-être un peu plus attentif. Mais sinon, je ne pense pas quil faille faire plus

16 Corsican racism Je viens de Marseille, cest une ville ethnique […] beaucoup de Noirs tout ça, moi, je n'ai pas de problèmes d'en parler. Mais ici on a l'impression que ça gêne un peu à la rédaction. Moi, moi, j'entends dire, encore un Arabe. C'est au début, c'était un peu choquant […] Mais c'est comme un sujet un peu tabou. Parce que malgré tout, il y a une forme de racisme dans l'île, ils acceptent mal les autres communautés hein? Il y a un tiers qui est raciste, raciste envers les Français, entre guillemets, de Hexagone, un tiers qui est raciste envers les Maghrébins, les Tunisiens, les Algériens. Je ne sais pas si c'est typiquement insulaire

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