As the rise of nationalist populism continues to define the political debate in Europe, France’s Emmanuel Macron has tried to steal a march on the far right by making immigration his new policy priority. But it’s far from clear his tactic of concessions will achieve the goal of defending centrist politics.

ICWA fellow and journalist Karina Piser has been observing the debate from her base in Paris. She spoke on December 5, 2019 at the Alliance Française in Washington about French identity politics. Karina reported about her two-year ICWA fellowship in France (2017-19) exploring government initiatives to promote the state policy of secularism and the place of Islam in society in the aftermath of the 2015 and 2016 terrorist attacks.

Before her fellowship, Karina was an editor at World Politics Review. She holds a master’s degree from Sciences Po Paris, and writes for The Washington PostThe Atlantic and other publications.

Following her talk, Karina joined a panel discussion on migration and identity politics with former ICWA fellows Malia Politzer (Spain, 2013-2015) and Jean-Benoit Nadeau (France, 1998-2000), moderated by ICWA trustee Pascal Saura.

Malia Politzer is an investigative and freelance journalist based in Spain. She was an ICWA fellow in Spain from 2013-2015. She has been published in HuffPost Highline, Foreign PolicyThe Wall Street JournalThe New York Times and Longreads.

Jean-Benoit Nadeau is a freelance journalist and bestselling author of books on language and culture, including Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, which came out of his ICWA fellowship in France in 1998-2000. He has been published widely in Canada’s national magazines in French and English, as well as The New York TimesUSA Today and more.


Pascal Saura is a senior knowledge and learning officer at The World Bank and a former cultural and education adviser with the Embassy of France in the United States.


    ICWA executive director Gregory Feifer speaks to fellowship candidate Astha Rajvanshi in the entrance of the Alliance Française 


    ICWA trustee Fabrice Houdart photographs Gregory Feifer during his introductory remarks


    Karina Piser delivers her end-of-fellowship talk


    ICWA trustee Pascal Saura (left), Karina Piser (center) and former ICWA fellow Malia Politzer during the panel discussion


    The audience including Gregory Feifer, executive director of the Alliance Française DC Sarah Diligenti, chairman of the ICWA board of trustees Paul Rahe, former ICWA trustee Julie Barlow and ICWA trustees Fabrice Houdart, Jeff Race and Joe Battat