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A White Race Blindness?

Abstract Universalism and the Unspeakable Making of Race

Sarah Mazouz

Abstract

Drawing on observations and on interviews conducted in a préfecture and in a municipalité of the Paris periphery, this article analyzes how republican universalism operates as a “particularizing” tool that enacts Whiteness. Starting from the paradoxical situation in which White state officials are reluctant to engage with the notion of racial discrimination when they are keen to ascribe racial categories to people of color, I argue that race blindness is in fact a form of White blindness to racialization. People of color who subscribe to the ideology of colorblindness tend to adopt a position whereby their loyalty toward the requirement of race blindness is supposed to protect them from suspicions raised by the racialized identity they are assigned to. But in practice, this stance internalizes the way they are viewed by Whites. The article concludes by discussing the link between White race blindness and the failure of republican policies against racial discrimination.

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The Whiteness of French Food

Law, Race, and Eating Culture in France

Mathilde Cohen

Abstract

Food is fundamental to French identity. So too is the denial of structural racism and racial identity. Both tenets are central to the nation's self-definition, making them all the more important to think about together. This article purports to identify and critique a form of “French food Whiteness” (blanchité alimentaire), that is, the use of food and eating practices to reify and reinforce Whiteness as the dominant racial identity. To do so, it develops four case studies of how law elevates a fiction of homogenous French/White food as superior and normative at the expense of alternative ways of eating and their eaters—the law of geographical indications, school lunches, citizenship, and cultural heritage.

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Book Reviews

Laura Levine Frader, Ian Merkel, Jessica Lynne Pearson, and Caroline Séquin

Lisa Greenwald, Daughters of 1968: Redefining French Feminism and the Women's Liberation Movement (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2018).

Eric T. Jennings, Escape from Vichy: The Refugee Exodus to the French Caribbean (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018).

Kathleen Keller, Colonial Suspects: Suspicion, Imperial Rule, and Colonial Society in Interwar French West Africa (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2018).

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Brand of Brothers?

The Humboldt Forum and the Myths of Innocence

Jonathan Bach

Abstract

This article explores two modes of innocence at work in the making of the Humboldt Forum, Germany's biggest cultural project. It examines the legacy of the historical castle's “cabinet of curiosities” and the elevation of the Humboldt brothers, especially Alexander von Humboldt, to patron saints. Through these cases, the article identifies an exculpatory mode of innocence focused on the past and an anticipatory mode focused on the future. These modes, it argues, exemplify a tension between the imagination of history as a timeless realm that eschews redemption and as fungible materials that can be recombined to start anew and redeem the past.

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Educating Women, Recasting Patriarchy

Becoming Modern in Colonial Morocco

Etty Terem

Abstract

This article explores the development of reformist thought and the formulation of modern identities in colonial Morocco. In seeking to move beyond conceptualizing ideas of social reorganization and cultural revival as determined by the encounter between the colonizer and the colonized, it shifts the critical focus to interactions within Moroccan colonial society itself. Specifically, it situates a project of reform in girls’ education within a local and broader debate on the effective formula for educational and pedagogic restructuring that would ensure the advance of the Muslim community. This analysis demonstrates that ideas of social change and cultural innovation in colonial Morocco were shaped by divides and disputes among Moroccans themselves as much as by the colonial state and its policy initiatives.

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Françoise Légey and Childbirth in Morocco

Jonathan G. Katz

Abstract

The pioneering French doctor Françoise Entz Légey (1876-1935) devoted her career in Algeria and Morocco to women's healthcare. Much acclaimed in her lifetime, and remembered today largely for her two books on Moroccan folklore, Légey established in Marrakesh a maternity hospital and a milk dispensary. She also embarked on a plan to instruct “modern” midwives to replace indigenous matrones and sages-femmes, known in Arabic as qablas. While Protectorate policy afforded opportunities to European women physicians like Légey, it simultaneously undermined the authority of indigenous Moroccan women healthcare providers. Efforts by Légey and other European physicians to supplant indigenous medicine with biomedicine ultimately contributed to the landscape of medical pluralism that prevails today. Moreover, European medicine disproportionately attracted the Jewish minority and further contributed to Jewish alienation from the Muslim majority.

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Illegible Allegations

Navigating the Meanings of Rape in Colonial Algeria

Sarah Ghabrial

Abstract

Laws that shield men from punishment if they marry their victims are so ubiquitous that their genesis is impossible to identify. Rather than attempting to trace the colonial or pre-colonial “origins” of so-called marry-your-rapist laws in Algeria, this article examines particular moments within this thick history. It posits that Algerian colonial courts were sites of confrontation, misrecognition, and occasional confluence between local remedies for unlawful sex and modern legal conceptions of rape inextricable from medicalized methods of detection. Algerian litigants approached French courts in rape cases demanding forms of redress based in vernacular ontologies of equitable restitution and social cohesion. In turn, colonial authorities inferred equivalences between indigenous normative codes, Islamic textual prescriptions, and the French Code Pénal that reshaped the legal and social meaning of rape.

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Introduction

Innocence and the Politics of Memory

Jonathan Bach and Benjamin Nienass

Innocence is central to German memory politics; indeed, one can say that the German memory landscape is saturated with claims of innocence. The Great War is commonly portrayed as a loss of innocence, while the Nazis sought, in their way, to reclaim that innocence by proclaiming Germany as the innocent victim. After World War II, denazification and courts established administrative and legal boundaries within which claims of innocence could be formulated and adjudicated, while the “zero hour” and “economic miracle” established a basis for a different form of reclaiming innocence, one roundly critiqued by Theodor W. Adorno in his essay “What Does Coming to Terms with the Past Mean?” In the 1980s, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's famous pronouncement of the “grace [Gnade] of a late birth” (also translatable as “mercy,” “pardon,” or “blessing”) became the touchstone for a resurgence of war children's (Kriegskinder) memory. In the 1990s, the myth of the Wehrmacht as largely innocent of atrocities was publicly challenged. Today, right-wing critiques that cast Holocaust remembrance as a politics of shame draw upon tropes of innocence, of German air war victims and post-war generations, while right-wing images of migrants are cast in classic forms of threats to the purity of the “national body” (Volkskörper). The quickening pace of contemporary debates over Germany's colonial past pointedly questions the innocence of today's beneficiaries of colonialism, drawing attention to the borders and contours of implication.

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Muslim Notables, French Colonial Officials, and the Washers of the Dead

Women and Gender Politics in Colonial Algeria

Augustin Jomier

Abstract

For many decades, scholars of gender and women's history in the Middle East and North Africa have challenged prevailing visions of an unchanged patriarchy, showing how patriarchy was transformed in relation to colonialism, and how some women struggled against it. To the contrary, this article aims to challenge our understanding of women's agency, taking Mzab as a case study. It explores the ways in which women of this Berber speaking region, inhabited by Ibadi Muslims and conquered by the French in 1882, contributed to the colonial reinforcement of male domination. Reading together works of ethnography, colonial administrative files, legal disputes, and Arabic-language newspapers, this article shows that, together with the colonial legal framework, other informal legal discourses and institutions shaped women's condition. Down the road, forms of patriarchy and notions of gender shifted.

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(Post-)colonial Myths in German History Textbooks, 1989–2015

Florian Helfer

Abstract

This article examines the evolution of textbook representations of colonialism in two North Rhine-Westphalian textbook series for the Sekundarstufe II since 1989. On the one hand, the article shows that the developing post-colonial discourse in the German public debate had a particularly strong impact on schoolbooks in the mid-2000s. Textbooks reacted quickly to changes in the public debate and have increasingly attempted to deconstruct colonial narratives. However, implicit mental conceptions of African “backwardness” continue to exert some influence even on today's textbook generation. On the other hand, the article identifies the distortions that appear when colonialism as a global phenomenon is discussed within a curricular framework that focuses on national and European history. Because of the close curricular link between High Imperialism and World War I, textbooks strongly focus on the global rivalry of the European powers, whereas other aspects of colonialism come up short.