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Nathan Bracher

Abstract

Appearing in English translation in the first half of 2016, some four years after their publication in the original French, both Ivan Jablonka’s A History of the Grandparents I Never Had and Henry Rousso’s The Latest Catastrophe reflect on the foundations of history and historiography. Why do we study the past and how? In answering those essential questions, both Rousso and Jablonka tell a story, the story of history, while at the same time adumbrating the “morals” of history in terms of epistemology, historiography, and narration. Following rigorous methods and rules of evidence, contemporary history strives to be a science, yet on several levels remains a matter of conscience that is an eminently human, if at times all-too-human, endeavor.

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What Was So Funny about Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob (1973)

A Comedic Film between History and Memory

Michael Mulvey

Abstract

This article reappraises Gérard Oury’s Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob (1973), a comedy about a bigoted Frenchman and an Arab revolutionary disguised as orthodox rabbis, by considering the film’s original historical context, its attention to traumatic memories, and its place inside French culture as a cinematic lieu de mémoire. Rabbi Jacob represented a comedic medium through which Oury addressed the serious themes of racism and antisemitism as he envisioned multicultural reconciliation between the French, Arabs, and Jews. Rabbi Jacob was inseparable from the history of Jews in France, their deportation during the Second World War, and the postwar acceptance that being Jewish was compatible with integration into France. At the same time, Rabbi Jacob portrayed Arabs as a series of (post)colonial stereotypes leading one pro-Palestinian supporter to hijack an airplane in protest. Rabbi Jacob records an optimistic moment at the close of the trente glorieuses and continues to serve as a source for narratives on philo-Semitism, tolerance, and anti-racism in France.

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After the Party

Trump, Le Pen, and the New Normal

Anne Sa’adah

Abstract

Donald Trump’s surprise victory and the National Front’s steady electoral gains are not the simple product of globalization and its discontents, nor are they a direct continuation of earlier populist movements in the US and France. Rather, both rest in significant degree on transformative political projects undertaken in recent decades to recast partisan politics in each country. Newt Gingrich adopted a radical strategy in order to break Democratic dominance in Congress, destroying norms of parliamentary conduct, pushing the Republican Party to the right, and roiling the party’s base. Bruno Mégret sought to position the National Front—through a dédiabolisation of its public image, an increase in its institutional capacity, attention to local politics, and opportunistic alliances—in such a way as to allow it to supplant the traditional conservative parties. These strategies changed the political landscape in the US and France. The results are likely to be durable.

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Edward Berenson, Elinor Accampo, Joseph Bohling, and Michael Seidman

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The Color of French Wine

Southern Wine Producers Respond to Competition from the Algerian Wine Industry in the Early Third Republic

Elizabeth Heath

Abstract

In the early Third Republic, southern wine producers in the Aude confronted a new competitor: Algerian wine. This article explores Audois efforts to curtail Algerian wine production in the aftermath of phylloxera, the wine crisis, and the 1907 strikes. Focusing on the actions of the Confédération générale des vignerons, this article shows how local winegrowers transformed the Algerian wine industry into a symbol of industrial, profit-driven agriculture and global integration. Cast as a civilizational struggle that pitted “French” traditions and cultural practices against the unsavory and immoral habits of colonial competitors, the fight against Algerian wine provided southern wine growers with a way to distinguish and add value to their own wines. The result was a new myth of southern viticulture that, despite hybridized vines and industrial production methods, recast the Midi as the guardian of true “French” agricultural production and a rural culture based on age-old traditions and a moral economy.

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Demos and Nation

Misplacing the Dilemmas of the European Union--In Memory of Stanley Hoffmann

Charles S. Maier

Abstract

“Demos and Nation,” written in homage to the memory of Stanley Hoffmann, critically considers the “no-demos” theory that argues the European Union is necessarily limited in its scope and loyalty because supposedly any authentic democratic political union must rest on a “people” or “demos,” which the EU lacks. There is no European demos, so the proponents argue; only nation-states possess this communal glue. I argue that, first, European history shows the no-demos theory ascribes far too great a unity and cohesion to the process of traditional nation-state formation as well as to current national polities; second, that polities at any level create their demoi through common civic activity, such as voting, political party formation, and meaningful parliamentary policy making; they are not pre-existing. Additionally, current difficulties of the EU should be attributed more to xenophobic populism at the national level than to failings in Brussels. Ultimately the no-demos theory plays into the hands of political leaders and movements that wish to advance their populist and authoritarian agendas at home by stigmatizing the EU.

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Edited by H. C.

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Owen White and Elizabeth Heath

Abstract

This introduction to the dossier “Wine, Economy, and Empire” surveys the place of economic history in the field of French Empire studies over the last twenty years. Drawing upon the concept of “economic life” as defined by William Sewell, the authors argue that a renewed focus on economic activity within the French Empire offers new opportunities to interrogate commonplace ideas about chronology, imperial forms, and structures of power. The article briefly examines some of the specific avenues of inquiry opened by a conception of economic life as socially “embedded,” while highlighting recent works that exemplify the possibilities of this approach for scholars of empire.

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Sophie Meunier

Abstract

Is France still relevant? Asking this provocative question in honor of the late Stanley Hoffmann’s lifelong commitment to French studies, I examine the contemporary role of France in international affairs, in Europe, and in globalization. The article then analyzes the structural reasons for these shifts in relevance, as well as the possible political openings to break from the “stalemate society,” including the emergence of new “artists in politics.” I conclude by reflecting on how the current uncertain state of the world, which may be on the cusp of a tectonic shift precipitated by the advent of Donald Trump in the United States and the resurgence of nationalism in Europe, is both challenging what is left of France’s international relevance and providing it with renewed opportunities to play a meaningful role under the presidency of young, pro-European Emmanuel Macron.

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The Origins of the Stanley Hoffmann We Knew

Some Comparisons on his Vichy Years with My Family Story

Peter Gourevitch

Abstract

Stanley Hoffmann’s years in France before, during, and after Vichy marked him both intellectually and psychologically. Many of his great works draw on his reflections on how he saw French people responding to this situation. By coincidence, my family was living in France from 1933 to 1940 as refugees from Nazi Berlin, where they had gone in 1923 as Menshevik refugees from the Bolsheviks. This essay explores Hoffmann’s story as a way of framing my own family history, and it reflects on the way those experiences influence our lives and ideas. Hoffmann went on to great prominence writing on international relations and the politics of France. Under his influence, I went on to help erode the academic boundary between domestic affairs and international relations.