French Citizens in Mayotte. An Uneasy Relation to French Nationality

Special Report Title: The State and Overseas
By Myriam Hachimi-Alaoui

In April 2011, Mayotte became the 101st French department. On this French island in the Comoros archipelago two civil statuses coexist: one is local under Islamic law and Malagasy and African customs; the other is the common law according to the French Civil Code. The process of departmentalization led to a redefinition of the legal framework to include Mayotte citizens within the French nationality. To that end, reforms of the civil status and local law were launched in 2000. This article looks at their implementation and the debates that accompanied them from a historical point of view. More specifically, based on the ethnographic study conducted by the author, it has become apparent that Mayotte citizens have struggled to adapt to these changes that had not been extensively discussed outside the circle of local elites and national elected officials. This lack of consultation has fueled a worried relation to French nationality for a number of people in Mayotte that has sometimes been expressed through resentment towards the Comorians, whether they are French nationals or foreigners.

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