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LES ECHOS

American TV Show 'The Wire' Breaks Into French Academia

Following the lead from a 2010 Harvard course on urban inequality, a French university is turning to the gritty television show "The Wire" as a unique tool for dissecting what is wrong in American society.

(HBO)
(HBO)

*NEWSBITES

PARIS - To delve into the topic of social inequality in the United States, a French university has turned to a slice of American popular culture: the HBO series The Wire.

The critically acclaimed show, created by former journalist David Simon, had previously been the subject of a course at Harvard, but now will be used by students at Paris' University Nanterre La Défense to look in on American social ills from the outside.

From January 13 to June 1, several seminars will take place within the walls of the university, the latest tribute to the gritty realism of a series depicting the largely African-American, crime-plagued neighborhoods of Baltimore. The course will focus on subjects such as the American city, the representation of African Americans and the role of institutions as they are depicted in The Wire.

According to the Paris Nanterre University teachers responsible for this seminar, the series provides a "critical" perspective of urban life in the United States, and is "an effective tool for discussing" the topic of life inside America's poor neighborhoods. Not ones to shy away from self-criticism, the French professors will also ask why such a show does not exist in France, which has its own urban and racial conflict.

Indeed, this is not the first time the series pops up in the French public debate. Stephane Gatignon, the mayor of Sevran, a town in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, has repeatedly referred to The Wire as a way to back his plan to decriminalize selling drugs as a way to reduce gang violence.

In September 2010, Harvard professors Anmol Chaddha and William Julius Wilson used the series in their course on urban inequality in America.

Read the full story in French in Le Monde

Photo - HBO

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine Is Turning Into A "New Israel" — Where Everyone Is A Soldier

From businessmen to farmers, Ukrainian society has been militarizing for the past six months to defend its sovereignty. In the future it may find itself like Israel, permanently armed to protect its sovereignty.

Ukrainian civilians learn how to shoot and other military skills at a shooting range in Lviv on July 30, 2022.

Guillaume Ptak

KYIV — The war in Ukraine has reached a turning point. Vladimir Putin's army has suffered its worst setback since the beginning of the invasion. The Russian army has experienced a counter-offensive that many experts consider masterful, so it must retreat and cede vast territories to its opponent.

The lightning victory that the head of the Kremlin had dreamed of never took place. The losses are considerable — Ukrainian troops on the battlefield now outnumber the Russians.

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On April 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that at the end of the conflict, Ukraine would become a "big Israel". In an interview with Ukrainian media, he said then, "In all the institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons."

The problem of national security will be the country's most important one in the next decade. An "absolutely liberal, and European" society would therefore no longer be on the agenda, according to the Ukrainian president.

Having long since swapped his suit and tie for a jacket or a khaki T-shirt during his public appearances, Zelensky has undeniably become one of the symbols of this growing militarization of Ukrainian society. However, the president claimed that Ukraine would not become an "authoritarian" regime: "An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. Ukrainians know what they are fighting for."

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