Association for Africanist Anthropology
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
This paper examines the social work of maintaining middle-class status in multiple national contexts, focusing on university-educated Senegalese in Paris. Once considered “elite” African intellectuals, these Senegalese find that diplomas no longer protect them from stigmatization in France. While Senegalese increasingly associate Islam with lucrative paths to mobility, in France, religion is treated as a barrier to belonging. French fluency and formal education index status in Senegal and facilitate “integration” in France, whereas religion is a key point of divergence between French and Senegalese notions of class, complicating efforts to achieve status transnationally. I argue that investments in multiple middle classes are complicated by a growing distance between Senegal and its former colonizer, showing how the symbols and stakes of middle classness shift with national context and political-economic transformations. A brief, focused ethnographic presentation will make room for a moderated discussion.