Judged on their Paperwork
Thousands of foreign migrants have one or more personal files stored in French archives, providing a historical record of the administrative control of residence and employment of non-national workers from World War I up to the present day. The article explores this material via four different areas of investigation and identifies the many agents and institutions taking part in the implementation of immigration policy. It also illustrates the room for manœuvre left to migrants themselves, as captured by their administrative trajectories and by the range of declarative strategies deployed to obtain residence and work permits. This choice of scale sheds new light on the everyday management of migrants in twentieth-century France and on the social effects of this management.