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Les Enfants Perdus

Asylum Reform, Parents’ Groups, and Disability Rights in France, 1968–1975

Jonathyne Briggs

Abstract

Following the deaths of fourteen children at a children's residential facility in Froissy in November 1968, a moment of national interest in France in the challenges facing disabled children led parents’ associations to press for systemic reform. Concomitantly, social critiques following the protests of May 1968 focused on poor institutional conditions as evidence of society's failures. Though government inquiry into the incident placed the blame on the proprietors, media reports and advocates asserted the failure of the French government to protect the disabled. This viewpoint aligned with the rhetoric of reformers seeking to dismantle institutions to instigate social change. However, an alliance of reformers and parents’ groups did not materialize, even after the important reforms of the law of 30 June 1975. That law articulated the government's commitment to the equality of disabled citizens, but it had limited impact due to its failure to address conditions for the mentally disabled.

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Mala consuetudo

Un excursus romain autour d'une expression médiévale

Soazick Kerneis

Résumé/Abstract

Le concept de coutume est une création des juristes occidentaux permettant de convertir les usages autochtones dans les termes de l'ordre juridique dominant. Si la contrainte de l'État est décisive dans la formulation de la coutume, faut-il penser qu'en Europe aussi elle fut une création étatique, les peuples ne participant guère à son épanouissement ? La mala consuetudo médiévale témoigne d'un rapport de force si bien qu'il faut restituer la pratique des usages, l'action du peuple dans la redéfinition des coutumes. L'article considère le contenu de l'expression médiévale comme une catégorie de pensée et la transpose dans l'Antiquité romaine afin de revenir sur le processus de création des consuetudines. Si la consuetudo romaine est bien une création du pouvoir, les communautés auxquelles elle s'applique parviennent aussi à contenir son périmètre. Sa pérennité tient sans doute en partie au fait qu'elle a été perçue ensuite comme un privilège communautaire.

The concept of custom is a creation of Western lawyers allowing for the conversion of indigenous uses into the terms of the dominant legal order. If the State's constraint is ultimately decisive in the formulation of custom, does that mean in Europe too it was essentially a State creation, with the peoples hardly participating in its existence? The mala consuetudo is a matter of power relations, so that it is necessary to emphasize the impact of practices, of popular action on the shaping of customs. This article considers the content of the medieval expression as a category of thought and transposes it to Roman antiquity in order to reconsider the development of consuetudines. If the Roman consuetudo was indeed a creation of power, the communities to which it applied managed to contain its perimeter. Its durability is probably due in part to the fact that it was perceived as a community privilege.

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Navigating the Fourth Republic

West African University Students between Metropolitan France and Dakar

Harry Gamble

Abstract

Through the end of the Third Republic, only tiny numbers of West African students managed to study at France's universities. Barriers to higher education began to fall after World War II, especially after African populations collectively gained citizenship. Higher education became a high-stakes policy area, as French officials and West African students and politicians vied to influence the parameters and possibilities of the postwar order. Amid escalating concerns about West African student migrations to the metropole, French officials eventually opened an Institute of Higher Studies in Dakar. However, this inchoate institution ended up highlighting the fundamental ambiguities of overseas citizenship. As West African students turned increasingly to anti-colonial activism, French authorities finally committed to establishing a full university in Dakar. Paradoxically, the construction and consolidation of this French university took place during the period of active decolonization.

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Obscene or Exemplary? Robert Marchand's Cycling World Hour Record

Sport, Aging, and Neoliberalism in Contemporary France

Hugh Dauncey and Jonathan Ervine

Abstract

The cycling world hour record for riders over 105 years old set in 2017 by Robert Marchand was much discussed in France in a context of neoliberal discourses about work and retirement. Within a debate about work characterized by desires to encourage “active aging,” Marchand's sporting athletic effort was variously perceived as exemplary hard work and productive old age, or as an obscene abuse of athleticism. This article examines the reception of Marchand's record within the wider context of contemporary neoliberal trends in French politics, culture, and society. It considers Marchand's working life, active sporting retirement, and left-wing politics. It shows how media coverage and public discussion of the sporting “work” of his “performance” exemplified competing discourses in France's national discussions about neoliberalism.

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The Opposite of Custom

Fashion, Sumptuary Law, and Consuetudo in Fifteenth-Century Northern Italy

M. Christina Bruno

Abstract

Fifteenth-century Italian urban and ecclesiastical authorities sought to regulate the laity's conspicuous consumption of dress, sometimes resulting in canon law petitions for exemption on the grounds of custom. By exploiting an ambivalent definition of custom according to status, wealthy men and especially women successfully sidestepped regulation. Critics of luxury such as the Franciscan Observants, who encountered similar arguments in confession, countered this permissive understanding of custom with alternate criteria for determining proper dress tied to the morality of the economic behavior that made luxurious dress possible. Overlapping definitions of custom drawn from canon law and moral theology thus provided both fashionable people and their confessors a way to negotiate and contest their status.

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Political Comedy as Fuel for Populist Rhetoric?

Representations of Politicians and Institutions in the German TV Shows “Eichwald MdB” and “Ellerbeck”

Niko Switek

Abstract

In popular culture, politics are frequently framed with negative stereotypes, and there is some overlap between the anti-establishment rhetoric of political humor and populist challengers. This article probes similarities shared by politicians as presented in the television comedies Eichwald MdB (about a backbencher in the Bundestag) and Ellerbeck (about a kindergarten teacher turned mayor) and supporters of the (right-)populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD). The analysis of the storylines uncovers representations of self-serving and incompetent politicians that align with the fundamental critique expressed by the AfD. However, the negative depictions in the shows are interwoven with positive elements that speak to a responsiveness of democratic institutions. The two case studies help us better understand the specific form of German political satire produced by a public broadcaster and how satirical entertainment oscillates between negativity and meaningful critique of political power.

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The Rue d'Isly, Algiers, 26 March 1962

The Contested Memorialization of a Massacre

Fiona Barclay

Abstract

This article examines the memorial discourses surrounding the massacre that occurred on 26 March 1962 when, in the week following the Franco–FLN ceasefire, French soldiers opened fire on a demonstration of unarmed European settler civilians, killing forty-six and wounding two hundred. Largely unknown among wider French society, references to the massacre have become a staple of the pied-noir activist discourse of victimhood, often advanced as evidence that they had no choice but to leave Algeria in 1962. The article draws on French and Algerian press articles, as well as online, print, and film publications produced by the repatriated European population. It reveals how settlers’ narratives first dehistoricized the massacre and then invested it with a significance that drew on multidirectional memories borrowed from a range of sometimes jarring international contexts. The analysis accounts for why the massacre contributed to the repatriated settler community's sense of identity and relationship to the wider French nation.

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Scandal of the Church, Prison of the Soul

The Problem of Bad Custom in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Canon Law and Practice

Anthony Perron

Abstract

This article explores “bad custom” (prava consuetudo) in Latin-Christian church law of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Drawing chiefly on papal decretal letters and the statutes of local and regional synods, it discusses the theoretical debates over bad custom, how customs came to be regarded as evil, and what prava consuetudo meant in practice. While many usages were labeled “bad,” especially troubling were those that threatened clerical status by implying lay claims to authority in the church, blurring the distinction between laity and clergy, or humiliating the professed religious. The article also asks whether legal concerns over such collective behavior that brought scandal upon the church may have been provoked by a moral discourse over prava consuetudo as sinful conduct endangering the individual soul.

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Staying Local, Going Global

Sustaining German Culture in “Dark” Times

Annika Orich

Abstract

Streaming technology has facilitated the global distribution of foreign-language shows such as Netflix's Dark. The worldwide popularity of Dark, the streaming giant's first original series made in Germany, raises questions about Netflix's business strategy of producing “local stories with global appeal” as well as the international allure of German culture today. This article examines how Dark's pop-cultural engagement with nuclear power connects to Germany's post-war policies on atomic energy and the circulation of the country's sustainability politics on the international stage. The show's particular blend of local and global aesthetics of nuclear power, sustainability, and climate change demonstrates how German culture is now viewed as a fitting medium to reveal, correspond to, and have an impact on today's zeitgeist globally. It also signals a shift in the dynamic between local and global media forms, and thus German film.

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Transnational Politics in Video Games

The Case of German Military Intervention in “Spec Ops: The Line”

Justin Court

Abstract

Political claims about the real world are abundant in video games, and the medium persuades uniquely through procedural rhetoric, the rules of behavior contained in computational code. The transnational scope of the video game industry makes it productive ground for interrogating how a game's persuasion might influence international audiences with nationally situated politics. The 2012 third-person shooter Spec Ops: The Line, produced by the German studio Yager Development, depicts the international concern of a fictional conflict in the Middle East and the atrocities of failed military intervention. The game's core procedural rhetoric, which tasks players to push ahead at all costs, cautions an international audience about the futility of deploying military power abroad, a warning that mirrors particularly German political anxieties. The game's depiction of extreme violence—and the player's participation in it—raises further questions about the cultural status of the medium in the country and abroad.