SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Carrie Benjamin

BA(University of California, Irvine) MA(George Washington University)
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Carrie Benjamin
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

PhD Student

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies


Ms Carrie Benjamin
Email address:
Thesis title:
‘In defence of the neighbourhood’: narrating place, belonging, and gentrification in the Goutte d’Or
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

My dissertation explores the ways in which residents negotiate, contest, interpret, and contribute to gentrification in Paris’s Goutte d’Or neighbourhood. I trace the construction of the Goutte d’Or as historically leftist, revolutionary, North African, and working-class to show how the past is invoked in contemporary political projects by residents, merchants, and state and municipal actors. These narratives position Algerians, arguably the most racialized group in France, as the neighbourhood’s indigènes, and as a result construct West African residents who arrived in the 1980s and 1990s as the Goutte d’Or’s Others. I go on to explore the convergence of national and municipal policies intended to gentrify the neighbourhood by converting a mosque into a cultural centre and through the policing of an ‘exotic market’. I argue that these two projects attribute the ‘decline’ of the area's living conditions to the presence and practices of racialized African residents, street vendors, and shoppers, and thus seek to physically, institutionally, and symbolically displace them from the neighbourhood. Finally, I investigate how residents assert their positions in the Goutte d’Or by exploiting the spaces that were opened up through municipal demolitions and renovation. If we insist upon the openness of space as indicative of the openness of the future, we must also insist that this openness is necessarily ‘messy’, sometimes ‘chaotic’, but always dynamic as people work to create spaces and places for themselves. Whether these spaces take the form of new (and sometimes illicit) ways of being religious, politically engaged, or quite literally putting down roots, these new modalities of belonging can be inclusive, problematic, and contested all at once. These spaces offer a framework for interpreting the multiple conceptions of ‘proper’ behaviour in a working-class, migrant, leftist, and gentrifying neighbourhood.


2015. Review of Tolerance, Democracy, and Sufis in Senegal by Mamadou Diouf, Journal of Religion in Africa.


2015. Creating 'home' on the street: working-class migrants and the domestication of public space. AAA Annual Meeting, Denver, CO.

2015. At home on the street: How working-class migrants use public space in Paris. RC21, Urbino, Italy.

2015. The sadaqa economy: Recreating a sacred place in gentrifying Paris. Anthropology in London Day.

2014. 'They are building us a new mosque': Gentrification, place-making and sadaqa in Paris. AAA Annual Meeting, Washington DC.

2014. Policing and Social Activism in Château Rouge, Paris. XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan.

2014. Neighbourhood Watch: the Policing of Château Rouge. 21st International Conference of Europeanists, Washington DC.


  • American Anthropological Association
  • Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology
  • Council for European Studies


immigration; urban anthropology; gentrification; civic activism; racialization and whiteness; space/place; France; Europe


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Available for
Regional Expertise
  • Europe
Country Expertise
  • France
  • French