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The Amandiers Street neighbourhood, Paris 20th

The Amandiers

© Manifesta 2008

The Amandiers Street neighbourhood, also called “the Banana” in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, and “The 3 Fuchsias” housing estate

The Amandiers neighbourhood is located in the North East of the 20th arrondissement of Paris, in the Belleville- Menilmontant area, situated on a hill overlooking the city.

The area of Belleville was predominantly a working class neighbourhood until the 18th century, before it became, at the turn of the 20th century, a place of first settlement for migrants fleeing persecution and for economic migrants.

In the 1920s and 1930s Ottoman Armenians and Greeks settled in Belleville, followed by German and Polish Jews before the Second World War, and by the Spanish who fled the Civil War. In the early 1960s, Algerian and Tunisian Jews fled conflicts in North Africa and settled in the area, shortly before Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians, as France called for workers from the former colonies and protectorates. More recently, in the 1980s, a substantial Chinese community had settled, followed by Sub-Sahara Africans.

The area is densely populated. Nowadays, Belleville still is an area of Paris that many migrants first come to, upon their arrival, hence the great cultural diversity and the social fragility of the area, as job opportunities are low, financial means precarious and social exclusion pronounced.

Paris© Collectif Tribudom 2008
The Amandiers neighbourhood is emblematic of these issues. As older housing was replaced by tower blocks and social housing estates, beginning in the 1960s, 40 years of successive urban reconstructions have had the effect of closing this neighbourhood in on itself.

The vast majority of families living there are from an immigrant background (North African, West African and, more recently, Asian) with a higher proportion of foreign born and migrants than the Paris average.

I learnt to express myself on a delicate topic, with the support and the creativity of the group

While many residents in employment work in construction and manufacturing jobs, the rates of unemployment are higher in the 20th arrondissement than in Paris overall (the last census carried out in 1999 found that 21.60% of 15-24 years olds in the 20eme were unemployed, compared with 14.70% in the 20eme and 12% in Paris).

The Amandiers is a “young neighbourhood” as the proportion of young people in the area is the second highest in Paris (27.41% of 0-24 years old in the 20eme against 25.73% in Paris as a whole), but inequalities in education in the arrondissement have affected access to social mobility.

I learnt to develop ideas and opinions. I liked it a lot.

The Amandiers has been portrayed as a ‘sensitive’ neighbourhood by the local authorities and the media. In June 2007, 25 years’old Lamine Dieng died during a police intervention in the area. Following his death, demonstrations by local residents angrily criticized the police’s practices and violence in the neighbourhood. The event and its aftermath reinforced the feeling of exclusion and social difficulties which young people of migrant descent in urban areas have experienced in France.