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Apprenticeship and Learning by Doing

The Role of Privileged Enclaves in Early Modern French Cities

Jeff Horn

Abstract

In France, formal guild training was not as ubiquitous a means of socializing young people into a trade as it has been portrayed by scholars. Guilds were limited geographically, and in many French cities privileged enclaves controlled by clerical or noble seigneurs curbed the sway of corporate structures, or even created their own. Eighteenth-century Bordeaux provides an extreme example of how limited guild training was in France's fastest-growing city. The clerical reserves of Saint-Seurin and Saint-André that housed much of the region's industrial production had quasi-corporate structures with far more open access and fewer training requirements. In Bordeaux, journeymen contested masters’ control over labor and masters trained almost no apprentices themselves. Formal apprenticeship mattered exceptionally little when it came to training people to perform a trade in Bordeaux.

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Bad Custom

The Meanings and Uses of a Legal Concept in Premodern Europe

Anthony Perron

The place and function of custom as a species of law—distinguished from custom as simply polite manners or cherished cultural traditions—has long been a source of research and debate among legal theorists and historians. One school of thought, reflecting the authority of written statute in modern jurisprudence, has relegated custom in a juridical sense to “primitive” societies, whereas proper law belongs to a world of state sovereignty. Other scholars have revisited the continuing validity of custom, including a trenchant body of work on the use (and manipulation) of custom in modern colonial regimes. At the same time, some have seen benefits in the acknowledgment of custom as a source of norms. A 2006 collection of articles, for instance, explored ways in which customary law might serve as a better foundation for the sustainable development of natural resources. As David Bederman has written, “Custom can be a signal strength for any legal system—preliterate or literate, primitive or modern.”

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Esther Liberman Cuenca

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This article examines 45 preambles in collections of urban customary law (called custumals) from 32 premodern towns in England between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. Urban custom was the local law of English towns, and constituted traditions and privileges that gained legal force over time. How lawmakers conceived of “bad” custom—that is, the desuetude or corruption of custom—was crucial to the intellectual framework of urban law. Evidence from preambles shows that lawmakers rooted the legitimacy of their laws in “customary time,” which was the period from the supposed origins of their customs to their formalization in text. Lawmakers’ efforts to reinforce, ratify, and revise urban customs by making new custumals and passing ordinances were attempts to broaden their autonomy and respond to the possibility of “bad” custom.

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Colonial Legacy

French Retirees in Nha Trang, Vietnam Today

Anne Raffin

Based on interviews with thirty-eight French retirees living in the seaside city of Nha Trang, Vietnam, this article queries their reasons for migrating and investigates how they make sense of their life abroad. I consider Vietnam’s historical connection with the French empire as a possible component of lifestyle migration and meaning. This small-scale study indicates that colonial memories and historical ties between France and Vietnam do influence many interviewees’ choice of place of retirement. However, for most, the personal and social amenities afforded by a tropical life in the present tend to eventually displace such memories.

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Nupur Patel

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This article analyzes the different selves operating in Madame de Lafayette's La Princesse de Montpensier. Contrary to scholarship, which tends to position the text as a mere precursor of La Princesse de Clèves, it is in La Princesse de Montpensier where one first locates the interior. Lafayette presented a princess coming to terms with her identity, debating with different selves against a backdrop of social, historical, and political ideals. The nouvelle historique was central to the development of selves; it was an important medium through which Lafayette could perceive, explore, and contest a woman's identity in relation to society. The genre also enabled writers to examine themselves. Lafayette used it to test out her own authorial self and locate her place in the literary sphere.

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A Few Bad Apples or the Logic of Capitalism?

Neoliberal Globalization in the Economic Crime Drama Since the Millennial Turn

Sabine von Dirke

This article investigates how neoliberal globalization has been mediated through audiovisual narratives since the 2000s. It identifies a cluster of films, produced by and circulating on German public television, which use the generic conventions of the popular crime genre to constitute a sub-genre—the televisual economic crime drama. Using a content and textual analysis that focuses on the backdrop of historical context and genre norms, the article examines key tropes to assess the critical potential of this sub-genre. The analysis demonstrates that both the containment theme of “a few bad apples” and a systemic critique can structure these narratives of neoliberalism. At its best, the televisual economic crime drama argues that alternatives to neoliberalism are possible by referencing Germany’s history of the social market economy and by featuring characters as well as images of active citizenship, solidarity, and collective action in the workplace.

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Hammer and Cycle

Communism’s Cycling Counterculture in Interwar France

Martin Hurcombe

This article explores the evolving relationship of the Parti Communiste Français to cycling in the interwar years. It argues that communist press coverage of the sport enriches our understanding of how the Party evolved from a marginal force in the 1920s to a mass party that had forged both an effective and affective bond with large numbers of the French working class. It examines attempts to harness and manipulate working-class enthusiasm for cycling and to project through its coverage of the sport an idealized image of the French worker. Reading sport history into the Party’s political trajectory in the interwar years reveals how the appeal to the emotions was fundamental to its evolving image as a national workers party, but also how the Party had to make accommodations between a Soviet ideal and the realities of French working-class sports culture.

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Imperial Farce?

The Coronation of Bokassa the First and the (Failed) Manufacture of Charisma

Jason Yackee

This article explores the appropriation and translation of historical notions of “empire” into the modern era through close examination of the short-lived Central African Empire, imagined and brought to life by the flamboyant Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa. Curiously, in an era in which the formerly colonized francophone African nations were increasingly seeking to signal rejection of their French heritage, Bokassa presented his empire as a modern corollary to the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte. This article draws on original research in French and US diplomatic archives to argue that we can understand the empire as a failed attempt to manufacture charisma, approaching farce before devolving into horror.

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Introduction

Using Popular Culture to Trace and Assess Political Change

Niko Switek

The German federal election in September 2021 marked a significant transformation for German politics. As Chancellor Angela Merkel decided not to run again, the election spelled the end of her 16-year tenure; it also signaled a major shift in the German party system. The right-populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered the Bundestag again after their first entry in 2017, implying—for the first time since 1949—the establishment and sustained parliamentary presence of a party on the national level to the (far-)right of the Christian Democrats. The challenges facing the new parliament and government after the election are paramount. The climate crisis looms as large as ever. With the exception of the AfD, all German parties (and a distinct majority of voters) see this as the most pressing issue to tackle. However, the scope of action will be limited as the extensive state debt accumulated through covid-19 relief measures exerts pressure on the specific German model of social market economy. Finally, the international environment has seen drastic changes in the last years: While the election of u.s. President Joe Biden as successor to Donald Trump implies a return to normal for transatlantic relations, the uk exit from the eu shifts the balance between the remaining member states. After the Euro, refugee, and pandemic crises, European solidarity is strained, complicating Germany’s role as the eu’s “reluctant hegemon” or “gentle giant.” This reluctance or restraint connotes far more than a strategic policy choice: it is deeply rooted in the German history of the twentieth century that witnessed the cruelty and atrocities of the Nazi regime.

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Invoking the “Yolocaust”?

German Memory Politics, Cultural Criticism, and Contemporary Popular Arts

Ralph Buchenhorst

The present study understands comedy in relation to the Holocaust as an attempt by Germany’s third and fourth generations to create alternative forms of commemoration. Analyzing the country’s history of coming to terms with the Shoah, it highlights that recent forms of subversive satire are reacting to a crystallization in official memory politics through counter-discourse to political correctness and the defenders of moralism. The article finds that it is possible to combine comedy and Holocaust memory if Jewish victimhood is not spoofed and the limitations of official memory politics are debunked. Finally, it contends that not every historical assessment based on a local/national context can serve as a global blueprint. The recognition of national historical guilt and the establishment of distinct collective memories are still crucial for understanding specific pasts. Accordingly, German popular culture referring to the Nazi past differs from u.s. comedy dealing with the Holocaust.