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How Should Historians Talk about Spatial Agency?

Paul Stock

Abstract

In recent years, it has become commonplace to argue that space is an important topic in the humanities and social sciences. But what does space do? Can we speak of space as having agency? Historians’ responses to these questions are strikingly varied. Some propose an almost deterministic role for spatial characteristics, while others deny that space can have any causal function at all. This article seeks to navigate a path between these unsatisfactory extremes. It uses insights from material culture studies and actor-network theory to discuss ways of re-framing agency as an assemblage of human and non-human affects. Agency can thus be defined not in terms of first causes and definitive outcomes, but instead as a coincidence of occurrences. This allows historians to speak of “spatial agency” as the emplacement of affective elements, the gathering of agencies at a particular site and moment.

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Illyria Remembered

On Some French Memoirs of the Illyrian Provinces 1809–1813

David McCallam

Abstract

This article examines how four French memorialists recall and represent the former imperial territories of the Illyrian Provinces (1809–1813) on the eastern Adriatic seaboard. It explores how their memoirs deploy Enlightenment ethnography and Romantic exoticism in distinct ways while problematizing these approaches in light of lived experiences in the region. The article thus sheds light on the evolving character of tropes about the western Balkans in early nineteenth-century France, highlighting the influence the landscapes, cultures, and peoples of the territories had on the French officials posted there, including on their later self-presentation as memorialists.

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L'Armée, la haute function publique et le massacre de Thiaroye en 1944 au Sénégal

Bureaucratie impériale et petits meurtres entre amis

Martin Mourre

Abstract

This article focuses on the Thiaroye massacre on 1 December 1944. Senegalese tirailleurs returning from Europe were killed by their officers simply for claiming the money they were owed. In this article I do not focus on the course of events, nor even on their political consequences, but rather on the way the events were explained by French authorities just after the tragedy. I take as my subject the biographies of several figures from the French state who were involved in the narration of these events. I try to see how these men were socialised in similar spaces. I am more specifically interested in the methods used by these administrations to write about the massacre. This article helps to better understand the French imperial state and the violence in the colonies and the link between military violence and political violence

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Narrating Political Subjectivity

A Conversation among Liberals, Conservatives, and Anti-Liberals

Manuel Clemens

Abstract

The currently changing political landscape in Europe and the United States gives rise to the question of what the tasks of Bildung are right now. Are the humanities able to engender a conversation about the deep divisions between liberals, conservatives, and even anti-liberals? Do they have the wisdom to reach out equally to Obama voters with progressive values, to conservatives who believe strongly in family, the nation, and God, and to supporters of populist parties with strong anti-liberal tendencies? The article addresses these questions by arguing for a political Bildungsroman and scrutinizing political subjectivity as meticulously as Freud interpreted dreams in psychoanalysis.

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Pays des brumes

The Persistence of Poetic Realism in French Cinema of the Occupation

Barry Nevin

Abstract

Whereas the aesthetics and politics of poetic realism in French prewar cinema have been analyzed in depth, the extent to which poetic realism persisted in French cinema of the Occupation and the textual space that it created for spectators within this cultural context remain comparatively neglected. Responding to this critical oversight, this article analyzes Christian-Jaque's Voyage sans espoir (1943) and Jean Grémillon's Lumière d'été from three perspectives: first, it evinces iconography in each that was central to the 1930s poetic realist films directed by figures such as Marcel Carné, Jean Renoir, and Jacques Feyder; second, it illustrates how poetic realism's characteristic focus on gender was reconfigured during the Occupation; third, it determines how these aesthetic and social aspects spoke to French society under occupation. This article ultimately argues that poetic realist praxis persisted during the war years and constituted a major vector of resistance against German rule and the Vichy government.

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Posesión de Tiempo Inmemorial (Possession of Time Immemorial)

Tenants in Court and Proprietary Formalization. Rengo, Chile, 1820–1830

Víctor Brangier and Mauricio Lorca

Abstract

This study focuses on disputes between small and medium tenants, who sought to formalize old land rights. The context under study is Rengo Valley, Chile, between 1820 and 1830, where there was increasing pressure to clarify rights over possessions. The analysis of a sample of 31 trials showed the relevance of the judicial use of the figure Posesión de Tiempo Inmemorial (Possession of Time Immemorial). This was a resource derived from the value of possession in the Hispanic American agrarian legal culture, one that the litigants used strategically. This study's findings provide new data on the use of socially valued legal figures in justice to defend possession, thus contributing to the discussion on the dispossession of peasants in contexts of proprietary formalization.

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A Post-Truth Campaign?

The Alternative for Germany in the 2019 European Parliament Elections

Maximilian Conrad

Abstract

This article analyzes the Alternative for Germany's campaign for the 2019 European Parliament elections against the backdrop of the phenomenon of “post-truth politics.” Post-truth politics is operationalized here as the strategic deployment of misleading frames and argumentative as well as evaluative styles. This has become a standard tool in the repertoire of populist actors, and in German politics, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) is a case in point. Despite the party's thematic shift from issues of European integration to migration and multiculturalism, the European Union (eu) still represents an important point of reference in the party's rhetoric. Empirically, this article addresses the importance of post-truth politics in the AfD's campaign by examining the frames and evaluative styles employed by the party and its leading candidates in evoking negative images of the eu, considering in particular social and other digital media as important venues for such processes.

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Refusing the “Gift” of Integration

Narratives of Migration at the Galerie des dons

Abigail E. Celis

Abstract

France's Musée national de l'histoire de l'immigration (MNHI) was founded in Paris in 2007, with the stated mission to change popular perceptions on immigration at a time of rising xenophobia. Within the MNHI is the Galerie des dons, an exhibition space dedicated to personal objects donated by immigrants and their families. Combining a museological and a new materialism approach, this article analyzes the textual mediation, spatial organization, material qualities, and social biographies of objects in the Galerie des dons collection as it existed from 2014 to 2019 in order to evaluate the MNHI's “new” narratives of immigration. It concludes that while the curatorial choices tend to reproduce an integration-oriented story of immigration, the individual objects in the Galerie serve as dissenting voices that complicate the institutional narrative.

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Senses and Gender in Modern and Ancient Greek Healing Rituals

Evy Johanne Håland

Abstract

This article presents ethnographic fieldwork combined with studies of historical sources to explore modern and ancient healing rituals in Greece. It focuses on the importance of the senses, especially smell, taste, and sight, in relation to gendered practices and beliefs about healing. In Greece, healing rituals are generally connected with the domestic sphere where women are the dominant agents of power. Based upon the author's fieldwork, the article presents the “female sphere” from the perspectives of female informants. It seeks to deconstruct male perceptions of women and their magic healing rituals that appear in ancient sources produced by men, by a comparison with the modern material.

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Transitioning Out of the Great War through Cinema

Self-Reflection and Distancing in L'Atlantide (1921) by Jacques Feyder

Leïla Ennaïli

Abstract

This article contributes to the discussions about the ways in which societies phase out (or not) of long periods of war by focusing on Jacques Feyder's film L'Atlantide (Queen of Atlantis) (1921) through the perspective of the challenges France faced after World War I. I argue that carefully crafted entertainment products such as L'Atlantide contributed to a slow “demobilization” of the mind in France. A distancing/reflecting mechanism at the heart of the film is twofold: it tackles fundamental changes brought about by the war, such as the degree of violence that permeated society, while providing the escapism of a colonial backdrop. This analysis proposes to read L'Atlantide as a text symptomatic of a time when World War I was in everyone's mind and when it had yet to be “digested.”