Denial of Denial: Color-Blind Racism and Academic Silencing in France

By Iseult Mc Nulty


In February 2021, the French minister of higher education, Frédérique Vidal, publicly condemned postcolonial, decolonial, intersectionality, gender, and racial studies. Contending that a radical faction of the Left is wreaking havoc on universities and dividing French society, she emphasized her disagreement with studies relating to race, arguing that the concept is biologically unsound—regardless of its material or social reality. The minister suggested that an investigation be launched to examine the radical Left’s dissemination of divisive ideologies that are allegedly corroding academia as well as French society and Republican values. This article harnesses Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s theorization of color-blind racism through the lens of French Republicanism, as well as postcolonial and decolonial theory, in order to unpack the epistemological violence at play in this controversy. Why is scholarship on race framed as a threat to core Republican values? What does this mean for academic freedom?

Download "Denial of Denial: Color-Blind Racism and Academic Silencing in France" or read it below.