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Olivier Wieviorka

*The full text version of this article is in French

English Abstract:

Historians generally consider resistance in Europe as a national phenomenon. This vision is certainly accurate, but forgets one important datum: the Allies have played a decisive part in European resistance, by recognizing (or not) governments in exile, by authorizing (or not) the free access to the BBC, and by using their secret services (mainly the Special Operations Executive, SOE, and the Office of Strategic Services, OSS). This article tries to show how this action has shaped resistance in Western Europe, and given to the Anglo-Americans a leading part in clandestine action—even if national powers, in one way or another, have resisted this hegemony.

French Abstract:

La résistance en Europe a le plus souvent été considérée comme un combat national, tant par les hommes et les femmes qui y ont participé que par les historiens qui ont, par la suite, tenté de l’analyser. Sans contester ce schéma, il convient sans doute de l’enrichir, en admettant que l’intervention des Britanniques, puis des Américains, a contribué à européaniser la résistance. En la pliant à un modèle organisationnel unique tout d’abord ; en imposant des structures de commandement et une stratégie identiques ensuite ; en légitimant les pouvoirs en exil enfin. Ces interventions ont au total amené à une homogénéisation de l’armée des ombres sur le Vieux Continent, sans que les résistances nationales n’aliènent, pour autant, leur identité propre.

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The Return of the Republic

Crowd Photography and the Liberation in Toulouse, 1944–1945

Hanna Diamond

During the Liberation of Toulouse, crowd photography dominated the local press rather than the scenes of combat and barricades that marked coverage in Paris and elsewhere. This article shows how crowd photography contributed to a common construction of republicanism across the Toulouse press and exhibitions. It argues that the circulation of these images not only communicated the message that the “people” were once again sovereign, but also implied that these populations had been instrumental in their liberation, thereby contributing to the mythology of “la France résistante.” Editors mobilized crowd photography to convey to viewers the importance of adopting their republican roles at a time of community reconstruction. Reading the photography of the Liberation of Toulouse reveals that while photographic messaging in Liberation France varied in line with local circumstances, it nonetheless played a potent role in contributing to democratic resurgence.

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Transnational Cultural Propaganda

French Cultural Policies in Britain during the Second World War

Charlotte Faucher

The Second World War challenged the well-established circulation of cultural practices between France and Britain. But it also gave individuals, communities, states, and aspiring governments opportunities to invent new forms of international cultural promotion that straddled the national boundaries that the war had disrupted. Although London became the capital city of the main external Resistance movement Free France, the latter struggled to establish its cultural agenda in Britain, owing, on the one hand, to the British Council’s control over French cultural policies and, on the other hand, to the activities of anti-Gaullist Resistance fighters based in London who ascribed different purposes to French arts. While the British Council and a few French individuals worked towards prolonging French cultural policies that had been in place since the interwar period, Free French promoted rather conservative and traditional images of France so as to reclaim French culture in the name of the Resistance.

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The Value of Nation

Bureaucratic Practices and the Lived Experience in the French Naturalization Process

Sarah Mazouz

Drawing on ethnographical observations made in the Naturalization Office of a prefecture of the Paris region, and on interviews carried out with bureaucrats and French citizens who have been naturalized, this article examines both the institutional process of granting citizenship as well as its impact on subjectivities. It investigates the assumptions and broad judgments that underlie the granting of French citizenship to see how norms and values linked to this procedure circulate between bureaucrats and applicants. It focuses on the idea of “deservingness,” linked to the act of being granted French citizenship, to determine how bureaucrats from the Naturalization Office and French naturalized citizens differently appropriate this notion. By addressing the articulated difference between bureaucratic practice and lived experience, this article aims to highlight the political, moral, and ethical dimensions at stake in the procedure of making foreigners into French citizens.

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Aro Velmet and Rachel Kantrowitz

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Julie Fette

Abstract

This article melds family history with History, tracing the lives of my daughter’s grandparents, Marcelle Libraty and Pinhas Cohen. Products of the social mobility and integration offered by the Alliance israélite universelle, they became schoolteachers in Morocco and opted for France after independence. Currently in their eighties, Marcelle and Pinhas’s lives are connected to sweeping events in history: French colonialism, Vichy anti-Semitism, Moroccan independence, Jewish emigration. Inspired by Ivan Jablonka’s L’Histoire des grandparents que je n’ai pas eus, I experiment as both narrator of the past and participant in the family story, and demonstrate new ways of writing history. This auto-historiographical project shows how a family succeeds in preserving identities of origin and maintaining relationships despite socio-political upheaval and global mobility.

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Ivan Jablonka

Translator : Nathan Bracher

Abstract

Amid the current crisis in the humanities and the human sciences, researchers should take up the challenge of writing more effectively. Rather than clinging to forms inherited from the nineteenth century, they should invent new ways to captivate readers, while also providing better demonstrations of their research. Defining problems, drawing on a multitude of sources, carrying out investigations, taking journeys in time and space: these methods of inquiry are as much literary opportunities as cognitive tools. They invite experimentation in writing across disciplines, trying out different lines of reasoning, shuttling back and forth between past and present, describing the process of discovery, and using the narrative “I.” We can address the public creatively, decompartmentalize disciplines, and encourage encounters between history and literature, sociology and cinema, anthropology and graphic novels—all without compromising intellectual rigor. Now more than ever, the human sciences need to assert their place in the polis.

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Introduction

Writing History and the Social Sciences with Ivan Jablonka

Nathan Bracher

Abstract

This introduction outlines Ivan Jablonka’s theory and practice of writing the social sciences as foregrounded in three of his most noted, recent books, A History of the Grandparents I Never Had, History is a Contemorary Literature, and Laëtitia. As he outlines in his own contribution here, Jablonka advances rigorous, methodical research that nevertheless details the subjective investment of the researcher while at the same time utilizing creative “literary” techniques to engage a wide spectrum of readers well beyond the habitual circles of academic specialists. The essays contributed by Julie Fette, Sarah Fishman, Melanie Hawthorne, Don Reid, and Nathan Bracher explore various facets of Jablonka’s approach, including, respectively: writing history with family stories, resisting the erosion of factual reasoning in the Trump years, pursuing biographies of supposedly non-descript lives, appreciating the importance of Communist cultural networks in postwar France, and revisiting the role of the subject in the social sciences.

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Jablonka et la question du sujet en sciences sociales

Le cas de Laëtitia ou la fin des hommes

Nathan Bracher

Abstract

With its compelling portrait of a young woman who was savagely murdered after having endured various forms of male violence throughout her life, Ivan Jablonka’s Laëtitia ou la fin des hommes also provides a stark depiction of French society and politics in the second decade of the twenty-first century. In deconstructing the sensationalism of the conventional crime story, the researcher-narrator seeks to draw as near as possible to the vivacious, yet fragile young woman while at the same time viewing her life in relation to various sociological and historical contexts defining its parameters. Jablonka’s own singular investment in the investigation and narration of Laëtitia thus poses the question of subjectivity in the social sciences. Recalling the landmark stances of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Emmanuel Lévinas, this article argues that Jablonka’s insistence on the explicit intervention of the researcher-narrator offers an epistemological gain and more precise knowledge.

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Jablonka’s History

Literature and the Search for Truth

Sarah Fishman

Abstract

Although published in 2014, Jablonka’s History is a Contemporary Literature provides important insights into the Trump phenomenon. Why does a significant portion of the American population overlook Trump’s litany of lies and falsehoods? Journalist Adam Kirsch argued after the election that popular culture, Reality TV for example, blurred the line between fiction and truth, creating a “post-truth” atmosphere that paved the way for Trump. Kirsch echoes Jablonka, who advocates that historians use literary techniques in the interest of truth. Jablonka insists that history as contemporary literature must rest on historical research and methodology, using good historical story-telling to reach broader audiences, increase knowledge and deepen understanding. Jablonka’s manifesto defines writing history as a form of public service and presciently warns of the potentially catastrophic results of relinquishing the quest for historical truth.