Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Second Department

French Studies

Reader 1

Fazia Aitel

Reader 2

Anna Joo Kim

Reader 3

Thomas P. Kim

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Rights Information

© 2013 Charlotte Leasia


This thesis examines the Grand Paris Express project currently underway in the Île-de-France. The basis of this project is a series of new and renovated railway lines to connect and span across the entirety of the region. They are being planned with the hopes to improve urbanization for the outlying suburbs. The Île-de-France is the wealthiest region in France, but it has high economic inequality between its departments. One hard hit area is Seine-St-Denis. This is the area I will be focusing primarily on. Department number 93, its urban landscape holds histories of rioting, unemployment, and large immigrant populations. In its underdeveloped growth, residents are calling for socio-spatial justice. Professor of Urban and Regional planning Edward Soja (1980) coins this as a “social-spatial dialectic” (208), where any given space is inherently political. Currently, residents in Department 93 are engaged in this “dialectic”, taking action by means of redefining the places where they live. In addition to demands for spatial equality is a more complex and hidden protest: the demand from marginalized citizens for an adjusted French ideology with respect to national identity. In their spatial marginalization, groups are contesting the egalitarian claims of the state based on where they live. I explore the historical significance of the Seine-St-Denis department in the Île-de-France’s urbanizing efforts. This thesis argues that planning for the Grand Paris Express represents the effects of a new French identity in formation. But while Paris is being recreated to accommodate those living in the outer communes, an anti-immigrant state narrative is also resulting in reformed urban planning in an existing discriminatory French ideology. However, as I plan to prove later in my research, the Grand Paris Express will provide more social access for France’s marginalized citizens.