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Sébastien Roux and Aurélie Fillod-Chabaud

En avril 2013, au paroxysme des tensions qui entourent l’adoption de la loi Taubira, Frigide Barjot, cheffe de file de la Manif’ pour tous, menace François Hollande de « sang » si la loi pour le mariage homosexuel est adoptée par l’assemblée. Christine Boutin, égérie des catholiques traditionnalistes, parle de « guerre civile » dans des tweets vengeurs. En quelques mois, des centaines de milliers de personnes descendent dans les rues pour manifester et contre-manifester. Moins de quinze ans après l’adoption du Pacs, on invoque à nouveau la République intemporelle et les principes révolutionnaires. On parle, la gorge serrée, de Marianne qu’on trahit. Derrière chaque contrat ou chaque gamète, c’est l’ordre social qui se joue, la République qu’on menace, le symbolique qui tangue… Au début des années 2010, devant les caméras éberluées du monde entier, la France montre à nouveau la place singulière qu’occupent les questions familiales dans le débat public.

*Full article in French

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The Battle of El Herri in Morocco

Narratives of Colonial Conquest during World War I

Caroline Campbell

Abstract

What does the French massacre of Amazigh people at El Herri in November 1914 reveal about broader patterns of colonial conquest? How do such patterns demonstrate the beliefs of French officers about the best way to conduct war at the beginning of World War I? Using extensive archival research, published primary sources, and Amazigh oral tradition, this article provides a narrative of the Battle of El Herri that analyzes the physical, sexual, and gendered violence that French troops exacted against Amazigh tribes. It argues that leading French military figures spun the “battle” to create a narrative that was racially inflected and self-serving. Led by Resident-General Lyautey, these leaders claimed that their philosophy of conquest was the only one that could result in successful war in Morocco, and by extension, Europe itself.

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“Before the War, Life Was Much Brighter and Happier than Today”

Letters from French War Orphans, 1915–1922

Bethany S. Keenan

Abstract

This article examines a previously unstudied collection of letters from French World War I orphans and widows, published in US newspapers from 1915 to 1922, as a result of the US humanitarian effort Fatherless Children of France (FCOF). Through the analysis of the letters’ content and style, the article illuminates the lived experience of bereaved lower-income French families, notably highlighting the significance of grief and the impact of paternal loss on economic status, bringing out new evidence on how women and children experienced the war, as well as showing how humanitarian efforts connected French and American civilians during the war period.

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Cécité partielle

Procédure d’adoption et colorblindness institutionnelle en France

Solène Brun

While France is largely considered a “colorblind” society, which hinders any public use of racial categories, this article explores the case of international procedure, arguing that it constitutes an exception to institutional colorblindness in the French context. Racial categories are not only explicitly used on a daily basis by adoption professionals, but their use is also officially encouraged, yet in an ambiguous way. In this regard, adoption procedures operate as a moment of color consciousness for many adoptive parents. By focusing on this particular case study, the article aims more generally to unpack the stakes of the taboo surrounding race in France.

*Full article in French

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Competing Visions

The Visual Culture of the Congo Free State and Fin de Siècle Europe

Matthew G. Stanard

Abstract

Studies of the visual culture of the Congo Free State (CFS) have focused overwhelmingly yet narrowly on the “atrocity” photograph used to criticize Leopold II's colonial misrule. This article presents a new picture of the visual culture of Leopold II's Congo Free State by examining a broader, more heterogeneous range of fin de siècle images of varied provenance that comprised the visual culture of the CFS. These include architecture, paintings, African artwork, and public monuments, many of which were positive, pro-Leopoldian images emphasizing a favorable view of colonialism. The visual culture of the CFS was imbued with recurring themes of violence, European heroism, and anti-Arab sentiment, and emerged from a unique, transnational, back-and-forth process whereby Leopold and his critics instrumentalized images to counter each other and achieve their goals.

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Debating the “Jewish Question” in Tunisia

War, Colonialism, and Zionism at a Mediterranean Crossroads, 1914–1920

Chris Rominger

Abstract

In Tunisia, the end of World War I and the return of Muslims and European settlers from the front brought attacks against local Jews who had been exempt from conscription under French colonial rule. French commentators spoke of a “Jewish question” fueled by Muslim fanaticism and Jewish profiteering, obscuring their own divisive attitudes and policies. Colonial archives and the popular press, however, reveal that this was far from a monolithic sectarian concern. Jews responded to violence with a variety of transnational political visions. I explore how some Jews reaffirmed their loyalty to France, while others highlighted colonial hypocrisies. Others turned to solutions such as US protection or the Zionist movement. This Tunisian story, with its unique colonial arrangement and legal ambiguities, foregrounds an oft-overlooked North African perspective on the global questions of identity, nationalisms, and minority politics at the end of World War I.

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In Their Best Interests

Diplomacy, Ethics, and Competition in the French World of Adoption

Sébastien Roux

The international circulation of children requires a multiplicity of interventions. Adoptive flows must respect the ethical standards defined by the Hague Convention (1993) and be realized in the context of a drastic contraction of the migration of children for adoptive purposes. For a dozen years, the French government has been following a partially contradictory double imperative: the moral respect of universal principles enacted by international treaties, and the political maintenance of France among the adoptive “great nations” that are able to favor its nationals. Based on a multi-site field study, this contribution aims to shed light on the architecture, discourse, and actions of these “adoptive public agents.” Drawing on interviews and observations conducted in France and abroad, this article describes how bureaucrats act in practice to create French adoptive families, at the blurred and troubled intersection between the promotion of universal children’s rights and the favoring of French national interests.

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Introduction

France’s Great War from the Edge

Susan B. Whitney

World War I has been studied extensively by historians of France and for good reason. Waging the first industrial war required mobilizing all of France's resources, whether military, political, economic, cultural, or imperial. Politicians from the left and the right joined forces to govern the country, priests and seminarians were drafted into the army, factories were retooled to produce armaments and other war material, and women and children were enlisted to do their part. So too were colonial subjects. More than 500,000 men from France's empire fought in Europe for the French Army, while another 200,000 colonial subjects labored in France's wartime workplaces. The human losses were staggering and the political, economic, and cultural reverberations long-lasting, both in the metropole and in the colonies. More than 1.3 million French soldiers and an estimated 71,000 colonial soldiers lost their lives, leaving behind approximately 1.1 million war orphans and 600,000 war widows.

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L’adoption internationale

Un facteur d’évolution de la morphologie familiale (1945–1985)

Yves Denéchère

In France, international adoption developed in the 1960s and became an important social phenomenon in the 1980s. During this period, successive regulations led to differences in the ways the interest of the French child and the foreign child were treated. This situation also challenged the established norms of the conjugal family. Adopting a foreign child made it possible to “make a family” differently, and gave French society new forms of the family to consider that both shaped and illustrated the evolution of family morphology. Adoptive families also participated in debates on the concepts of family, kinship, and parenthood, and they helped to make disabled children and so-called “children of color” more accepted.

*Full article in French

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The Olive Grove of Rome

Romanization and the French Colonial Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Tunisia

Jessica Biddlestone

In 1892, the French resident general in Tunisia launched the first state-sponsored colonization effort in the Tunisian protectorate. Based on Paul Bourde’s study of ancient Roman agriculture, the colonization plan explicitly sought to remake Roman prosperity in central Tunisia by fostering the cultivation of olives. Examining Bourde’s study of the ancient past and his work as director of agriculture in Tunisia, this article explores the connections between the study of the Roman Empire and the development of colonialism in North Africa. In tracing this history, this article highlights how the study and use of Roman ruins in French Tunisia inspired an appreciation for the role that technology and material development played in supporting the spread of Roman civilization and culture.