Indochina played a pioneering role during the decolonization of the French empire, and the religious issue proved important to the process. Even to this day, state-church relations bear signs of this contentious and painful past. The historiography of the Indochina War, as well as that of the Vietnam War, clearly call attention to the activism of religious leaders and religious communities, especially Buddhists and Catholics, who fought for independence, peace, and the needs and rights of the Third World. And religion was put to the service of shaping public opinion both in Vietnam and internationally. Naturally, ideological convictions during the era of decolonialization account for the dominance of political analysis of this subject. But with the passage of time we can now develop a more sociological understanding of people's religious motivations and practices and the role they played in the conflict between communism and nationalism. The historian can also re-examine the secularization process in decolonized societies by analyzing, on the one hand, the supposed loss of ascendancy of religions in society and, on the other hand, the appearance of new religious movements that tended to adapt to modernity. This essay explores these politico-religious dynamics in the context of the decolonization of Vietnam.
Regards sur l'autonomisation religieuse dans le processus d'indépendance du Vietnam au milieu du vingtième siècle
Science and Charity
Rival Catholic Visions for Humanitarian Practice at the End of Empire
This paper explores the conflict between local expressions of Christian charity and new theories of scientific humanitarianism in the final years of French rule in Africa. Compassionate phenomena inspired by Catholic social organizing had transformed everyday life throughout French Cameroon's cities and villages in the interwar and postwar years, and yet, in 1950, poverty, crime, poor public health, and social tensions remained prevalent. Seeking a more deeply transformative approach to social rehabilitation, ecclesiastical leaders in the Catholic Church in Europe and French foreign missionary societies in Africa partnered with international medical and scientific organizations to invigorate charity with technical expertise. Revised ethics and practices departed sharply from preexisting models of collective social action, as European leaders lacked confidence in the intentions as well as the outcomes of African-led religious organizing. European humanitarian approaches conceived after World War II demanded a new focus on particular African subjects, namely the child and the family, which alienated indigenous Christian principals, who, along with large and diverse African Christian communities, had previously determined the direction of Catholic social action on the continent.
Justin Izzo, Valerie Deacon, and John P. Murphy
In the Museum of Man: Race, Anthropology, and Empire in France, 1850–1950 by Alice L. Conklin Justin Izzo
What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II by Mary Louise Roberts Valerie Deacon
Food, Farms, and Solidarity: French Farmers Challenge Industrial Agriculture and Genetically Modified Crops by Chaia Heller John P. Murphy
Colonizing Revolutionary Politics
Algeria and the French Revolution of 1848
Jennifer E. Sessions
This article examines the key role of the French colony in Algeria in the political culture of the Revolution of 1848. Eugène Cavaignac and other army officers with Algerian experience led the state's repression of radical unrest, and their colonial backgrounds became a central narrative trope in debates about political violence in France, especially after the June Days uprising. Following the closure of the National Workshops, legislators adopted a major scheme for working-class emigration to and settlement in Algeria to replace the workshops and resolve unrest. Throughout 1848, Algeria operated as a symbolic and practical field for the struggle between social and political revolution in France.
Empire by Example?
Deportees in France and Algeria and the Re-Making of a Modern Empire, 1846-1854
Allyson Jaye Delnore
In 1847–1848, two well-publicized events ended in colonial and metropolitan deportees crisscrossing the Mediterranean between France and Algeria. In the first, Abd al-Qadir surrendered to French forces in the colony after a protracted resistance and was deported to the metropole in January 1848. Then, after the bloody reprisals of the June Days months later, the National Convention sentenced thousands of Parisian insurgents to “transportation,” eventually settling on Algeria as their destination. In both cases, the sentence of deportation seemed to satisfy both the penal and imperial goals of post-Revolutionary France: political stability, public order, and imperial expansion. But in practice, both episodes of deportation also heralded a new era. After 1854, the French government began consolidating punishment at the colonial peripheries while at the same time subjecting more individuals to deportation, signaling a shift in the relationship between colony and metropole that complemented emerging theories of crime and punishment.
Freedom Papers Hidden in His Shoe
Navigating Emancipation across Imperial Boundaries
A microhistorical inquiry into the life of Furcy, a man held in slavery in the French Indian Ocean colony of Île Bourbon (today Réunion), sheds light on shifting French policies and practices regarding race and slavery from the Old Regime to the general emancipation of 1848. The mobility of two enslaved domestic servants, Furcy and his mother Madeleine, who traveled between Bengal, Île Bourbon, Mauritius, and continental France, challenged French and British understandings of who could be legitimately held as slaves. Furcy's tenacious battle to win recognition of his freedom in multiple jurisdictions is a forgotten precursor to many international disputes over the juridical principle of Free Soil in the age of Emancipation.
From Black-Blanc-Beur to Black-Black-Black?
“L'Affaire des Quotas” and the Shattered “Image of 1998” in Twenty-First-Century France
Christopher S. Thompson
Since the mid-1990s, France's national soccer team has been given considerable significance in French debates about post-colonial immigration, national identity, republican citizenship, and the enduring legacies of French imperialism. This article explores the role played by representations of the team in those debates with a particular focus on the so-called “affaire des quotas” of 2010–2011. It argues that those representations reveal that the boundary between the purportedly inclusive civic nationalism of French republicanism according to which any person willing to embrace the duties and rights of democratic citizenship may theoretically become French, and the exclusionary ethnic nationalism of the xenophobic Front national is far less impermeable than is generally assumed in France. Indeed, race and ethnicity inform notions of French citizenship even among persons who reject the essentialist views of the Far Right.
Index to Volume 32 (2014)
Articles Special Issue on Representations, History, and Wartime France Special Issue on French Studies and Its Futures Dossier on Technology, the Visual, and Culture Reflections, Events, and Debates Review Essays Book Reviews Index of Books Reviewed
This article was first delivered as a talk at a symposium in honor of Jacques Revel. It focuses on Revel's manifold contributions as a scholar, teacher, and university administrator in order to reflect on the different meanings that the label “microhistory” has acquired over the past forty years. More specifically, it examines the evolution of the microhistorical approach in relation to the Italian, French, and American historiographical traditions in which it was most influential as well as to the rise of global history. The article is also an exercise in microhistory insofar as it emphasizes the tension between agency and structure in describing the ways in which the micro-historical trend has changed over time. It highlights the formidable ways in which personal ties shape knowledge and institutional building, but also acknowledges the larger forces that shaped the selective and creative appropriation of Italian microhistory in different national and temporal contexts.