Taking its lead from contemporary debates about the “crisis” that is the masculinization of the Barbès-La Chapelle-Stalingrad triangle in northern Paris, this article considers the processes whereby this district has been both “southernized” (“Mediterranization”) and “sexualized” while also being yoked into the modernizing, infrastructural dynamics of a “global city” (Sassen 1991). It relates these debates to the longer history of labor migration, structural inequality and the exceptionalist policing of sexual politics under colonial rule and into the period of decolonization. In so doing it establishes the context for reviewing Gramsci's southern question through the prism of his writing on “the sexual question.” Where Gramsci posits “a new feminine personality,” largely occluding the forms of female subaltern labor, the discussion here looks to the work of two young female artists, the photographer Randa Maroufi's 2019 series Les Intruses and the filmmaker Louise Mootz's 2019 work Jungle, to explore this terrain. In so doing, it proposes that their negotiation of and with urban form, which itself reflects the complex history of containment and porosity in this environment, displaces “the South” from a polarity with the North and situates the female body in its work, play and pleasure, but also in the confrontation with the violence of the street and of gender norms, as the locus of a radical shaping of the intersection between the southern/sexual question.

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