Getting away from the noise
This article offers a comparative lens on intercultural and interreligious encounter in urban contexts in France and the UK, focusing on the common-alities and specificities of different national and municipal contexts. It offers an account of three forms of encounter, based on extensive fieldwork in two neighbourhoods of Paris and London: commercial interdependencies embedded in early phases of immigration; voluntaristic ‘interfaith-from-above’ policies shaped by state agendas developed since the beginning of the twenty-first century; and still emerging ‘interculturalism-from-below’ generated by second- and third-generation children of immigrants, which is marked by nostalgia and selective reading of local heritage. In doing so, it bypasses the sharp disciplinary and methodological divides that separate research on Jewish histories and cultures, Muslim communities, immigrant quarters, and postcolonial/minority ethnic contexts. It aims instead to show how intercultural and interfaith encounters often occur in mundane spaces, and operate through and despite forms of ambivalence, and in this respect offer a context in which to displace the terms of spectacular accounts of racial and civilizational conflict.