Hacène Belmessous
L'Etat français, tombeau des sans-papiers

Svetlana Grigorian, forced to live with no official papers by the French state.

A sociological work on the condition of undocumented workers today in Europe.

 This is the story of an Azerbaijani woman from Armenia, who came to France in 2006 after a first attempt at settling in Germany between 2002 and 2005.

This book is the fruit of long months of contemplation with Svetlana Grigorian on the way the account should be published and the seven interviews during the six months between autumn 2010 and spring 2011.

Hacène Belmessous is the narrator, speaking in the first person. He comments on the scene in question and sometimes on what was happening at that time. But in the dialogue we only read what Svetlana Grigorian says or on rare occasions what her children and some friends have to say.

We meet her in seven places chosen by common agreement: three times at her house, in a public space, twice in a café, in a restaurant, where she does cleaning and at a friend's, whose house she loves. All these places become a trigger for ideas and specific words: they create a conversational intimacy, which is not about daily life.

And a portrait is gradually revealed of the life of an undocumented female in France and how France reacts to her.

She is an educated woman, popular, often in the media and accepted into a privileged social milieu and this is her story. Not all illegal immigrants are so lucky. She appears to live a normal life since she has friends, a job, goes on holiday and has children who do well at school. But what can she choose? Nothing. She's just part of the woodwork.

Her illegal status diminishes her to the extent of being at a dead end in her life: she proves that she is slowly dying.

The French state is put into question in this book which goes against the general idea of "France - a haven of refuge". However it also demonstrates the limits of so-called citizen commitment, which comes from a spirit of compassion and has no effect on the formidable practices of the Sarkozyist supremacy concerning undocumented workers.

October 20, 2011
Grand format
10,33 €

Digital reading copy