‘Water, North African Immigrants, and the Paris Bidonvilles in the 1950s and 1960s’.

Hugh Mcdonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water was a fundamental issue in the life of North African residents of the shantytowns, or bidonvilles, that proliferated around Paris in the postwar period. In this regard, this essay examines these immigrants' experience of inadequate shelter in the face of the wet Parisian climate, the supply and use of water in the shantytown home, and the ordeal of being gazed at by French neighbors of the bidonvilles because of their muddy appearance or while undergoing the arduous task of fetching water from communal water points. In large part, the article draws from the archives, diaries, and interviews of Monique Hervo, who lived and worked in the shantytowns of Nanterre in northwestern Paris. Furthermore, it engages with her explicit commitment to justice to examine how the daily experience of water for the North African residents connected to questions of justice, in terms of both material distribution and recognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-58
JournalRadical History Review
Issue number116
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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