The avenue d’Ivry runs south to external limit of the 20 arrondissements in today’s Paris. Hazan (WTP) suggests this boundary presents a false image: by confining Paris to the twenty arrondissements, it contributes to the image of a city that is mummified and museum-ified, in which working class life is reduced to a narrow sector.
Hazan (WTP) also explains the origins of the Asian ethnicity of the area: during the First World War, Panhard & Levassor, like Citroen and Renault, employed workers brought from Indochina, or recruited in China, to replace Frenchmen sent to the front. This is said to be the origin of the Chinese quarter in the 13th arrondissement, which grew in the 1970s with the arrival of the “boat people”.
Towards the circular Boulevard Périphérique the Avenue has since the 1990s become a centre of modern business buildings.
The Ivry-sur-Seine commune to which the avenue leads is just 3.3 miles (5.3 km) from the centre of Paris. Ivry used to stretch down to the Seine and included the land on which the new Mitterrand national French library was build. A third of Ivry was annexed by Paris in 1860.
Hazan (IOP) draws a political line of Resistance Paris based on those who were shot or deported between 1940 and 1944. In Paris it runs from the Porte de Clignancourt to the Porte de Vincennes, broadly the poorest, more working class areas, and then into what became known as the ‘Red Belt’ around Paris, ‘to Montreuil [in the East] and Ivry [to the South East].’
Ivry was the cradle of Municipal Communism. Georges Marrane was its Communist mayor from 1935 to 1965. In the 2017 general election Ivry still voted for the left France Insoumise parliamentary candidate and had a Communist mayor. The Red Belt’s population today is, Hazan (IOP) writes ‘now for the greater part ‘of immigrant origin’, i.e., made up of Blacks and Arabs, the very people (or their relatives) who had been driven out of the city by renovation and rising rents.’