This article examines the politics of interwar colonial identification practices put into place by the French colonial state in order to curtail the mobility of colonial (im)migrants. I argue that photography was used as a tool of imperial control in both French West Africa (AOF) and metropolitan France, since colonial men’s inability to provide the required photographic portraits often prevented them from moving around the empire. In response, colonial subjects appropriated photography in alternative ways to subvert these administrative restrictions. Moreover, they took advantage of metropolitan racial stereotypes to contest Western identification practices.
Controlling Colonial Migrants in Interwar France and Senegal
Johann Le Guelte
Through the history of the short-lived 1947 radio show La Tribune de l’Invalide, this article examines how the social and political context of the Liberation offered disability activists a unique opportunity to demand pensions, medical care, and social services hitherto denied to them by the French state. Drawing on transcripts of the broadcasts and correspondence between listeners and the show’s host Maurice Didier, the article demonstrates how disability activists played a pivotal, if little acknowledged, role in the construction of the postwar welfare state by highlighting French society’s historic neglect of disabled civilians.
Recasting the Image of the Post-1945 French Occupation of Germany
In much of the English-language scholarship on the post-1945 Allied occupation of Germany, French officials appear as little more than late arrivals to the victors’ table, in need of and destined to follow Anglo-American leadership in the emerging Cold War. However, French occupation policies were unique within the western camp and helped lay the foundations of postwar Franco-German reconciliation that are often credited to the 1963 Elysée Treaty. Exploring how the French occupation has been neglected, this article traces the memory of the zone across the often-disconnected work of French-, German-, and English-speaking scholars since the 1950s. Moreover, it outlines new avenues of research that could help historians resurrect the unique experience of the French zone and enrich our appreciation of the Franco-German “motor” on which Europe still relies.
A Reply to Alfred Betschart
Alfred Betschart has claimed that the project of existential Marxism is a contradiction in terms, but this argument, even when supported by many experts and quotes from Sartre's 1975 interview, misses the point of my Boston Review article, “The Philosophy of Our Time.” I believe the important argument today is not about whether we can prove that Sartre ever became a full-fledged Marxist, but rather about the political and philosophical possibility, and importance today, of existentialist Marxism.
Ronald Aronson praises Jean-Paul Sartre's existential Marxism in an essay in the Boston Review. I argue that existential Marxism is a case of a contradictio in adiecto. Sartre was never recognized as a Marxist by his contemporaries. He not only failed to show any interest in the question of economic exploitation, but most of the answers he gave in the Critique even contradicted Marxist theory. His expression of Marxism as the philosophy of our time seems to have rather been more an act of courtesy than the expression of deep conviction. As Sartre himself later said, Marxism and existentialism are quite separate philosophies.
Reading the Graphs of Madame Pégard
Hélène Périvier and Rebecca Rogers
This article considers how women adopted a “scientific” statistical language at the end of the nineteenth century to draw attention to their role in the moral and social economy. It explores in particular the messages contained in La Statistique générale de la femme française, a series of eighteen murals that the moderate feminist Marie Pégard sent for exhibition at the Woman’s Building at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The article begins by considering the place statistics held in France in the final decades of the century within the context of universal exhibitions. It then examines Pégard’s choice of quantified categories of social analysis to convey a sustained argument about the comparative weight of women in a modernizing French economy. The article seeks to understand how contemporaries read and interpreted the graphs, and how this mode of rendering visible the issue of women’s work played into the politics of an emerging feminist movement.
Beauvoir, Sartre and Levinas on the Ageing Body
Kathleen Lennon and Anthony Wilde
In this article, we explore Beauvoir's account of what she claims is an alienated relation to our ageing bodies. This body can inhibit an active engagement with the world, which marks our humanity. Her claims rest on the binary between the body-for-itself and the body-in-itself. She shares this binary with Sartre, but a perceptive phenomenology of the affective body can also be found, which works against this binary and allows her thought to be brought into conversation with Levinas. For Levinas, the susceptibility of the body is constitutive of our subjectivity, rather than a source of alienation. If we develop Beauvoir's thought in the direction of his, an ontological structure is suggested, distinct from Sartre – a structure which makes room for her pervasive attention to affectivity.
John Gillespie, Kyle Shuttleworth, Nik Farrell Fox, and Mike Neary
Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology, trans. Sarah Richmond (London: Routledge, 2018), lxvii +848 pp., ISBN: 978-0-415-52911-2 (hardback)
Jonathan Webber, Rethinking Existentialism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 256 pp., ISBN: 978-0-198-73590-8 (hardcover)
William L. Remley, Jean-Paul Sartre's Anarchist Philosophy (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), vii +277 pp., ISBN 978-1-350-04824-9 (hardback)
William Rowlandson, Sartre in Cuba – Cuba in Sartre (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), vi +132 pp., ISBN 978-3-319-61695-7
A New Idea of Democracy in Sartre's Hope Now
In the Critique of Dialectical Reason and in many interviews, Sartre upheld the proletariat's attempts at emancipation in Western societies and their revolts in the developing world. In these texts, counter-violence is considered the only way to exercise concrete engagement, and a classless society is presented as the only possibility of reducing social inequalities. However, this radical point of view was not the only perspective he tried to develop. He also sought to elaborate an existentialist ethics, which does not correspond to the Marxist theory. This article aims to show that Sartre evoked Notebooks’ ideas in his last interview, Hope Now, in which he envisaged a different typology of democracy and society. This article will examine this new and last direction of Sartre's political thought.
John Gillespie and Katherine Morris
This issue spans the entirety of Sartre's philosophical life, from his mémoire on images written at the age of twenty-two for his diploma at the Ecole normale supérieure to his thoughts about democracy as expressed in his final interview, Hope Now, at seventy-four. Fittingly enough, in between come reflections on sin and love and on the ageing body. As a result, we can get a sense of how Sartre's thinking changes and develops throughout his career and is always engaged, right to the end.