The only viable platforms for resisting globalism?

Though her tale is one of disillusionment, Smith never completely renounces the ideal of multiculturalism, even if the version she now espouses is less naïve, even jaded. Being a bobo needn’t be something to be ashamed of: for Smith, it means embracing a certain idea of community, what the French call le vivre-ensemble (“living together”) — the conviction that individuality is only fully realized in complex communal settings. Yet her nuanced portrait of her family’s decade in Belleville shows just how difficult it can be to adopt a coherent worldview in the face of changes brought on by globalization. Has multiculturalism become the worldview of an educated, mobile, and globalized elite? Do identity politics and a kind of ethnic separatism offer the only viable platform for resisting globalization’s most destructive tendencies? The merit of Smith’s book is that it forces us to grapple with these questions, which are likely to define our historical moment for years to come.

–Michael C. Behrent, Bobos in Paris: The Rise and Fall of a Multicultural Fantasy (review of Geraldine Smith’s Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud: Une vie de famille entre barbus et bobos)

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