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Owen White and Elizabeth Heath

Abstract

This introduction to the dossier “Wine, Economy, and Empire” surveys the place of economic history in the field of French Empire studies over the last twenty years. Drawing upon the concept of “economic life” as defined by William Sewell, the authors argue that a renewed focus on economic activity within the French Empire offers new opportunities to interrogate commonplace ideas about chronology, imperial forms, and structures of power. The article briefly examines some of the specific avenues of inquiry opened by a conception of economic life as socially “embedded,” while highlighting recent works that exemplify the possibilities of this approach for scholars of empire.

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Sophie Meunier

Abstract

Is France still relevant? Asking this provocative question in honor of the late Stanley Hoffmann’s lifelong commitment to French studies, I examine the contemporary role of France in international affairs, in Europe, and in globalization. The article then analyzes the structural reasons for these shifts in relevance, as well as the possible political openings to break from the “stalemate society,” including the emergence of new “artists in politics.” I conclude by reflecting on how the current uncertain state of the world, which may be on the cusp of a tectonic shift precipitated by the advent of Donald Trump in the United States and the resurgence of nationalism in Europe, is both challenging what is left of France’s international relevance and providing it with renewed opportunities to play a meaningful role under the presidency of young, pro-European Emmanuel Macron.

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The Origins of the Stanley Hoffmann We Knew

Some Comparisons on his Vichy Years with My Family Story

Peter Gourevitch

Abstract

Stanley Hoffmann’s years in France before, during, and after Vichy marked him both intellectually and psychologically. Many of his great works draw on his reflections on how he saw French people responding to this situation. By coincidence, my family was living in France from 1933 to 1940 as refugees from Nazi Berlin, where they had gone in 1923 as Menshevik refugees from the Bolsheviks. This essay explores Hoffmann’s story as a way of framing my own family history, and it reflects on the way those experiences influence our lives and ideas. Hoffmann went on to great prominence writing on international relations and the politics of France. Under his influence, I went on to help erode the academic boundary between domestic affairs and international relations.

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Suzanne Berger

Abstract

Looking back at extreme-right politics in France in the 1940s and 1950s provides new perspectives on contemporary populism. Stanley Hoffmann’s analyses of support for the Vichy regime and for the Poujade movement emphasized how populist politics flourished in times when major segments of the population felt thwarted in efforts to have their interests and views represented in government. Attempts to explain populism by the economic or cultural characteristics of individuals are insufficient. As Hoffmann suggested, it is the political failure of parties and interest groups to channel the grievances and demands of the “losers” of globalization into policy arenas that fuels the rise of populism today.

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Roll Out the Barrel

French and Algerian Ports and the Birth of the Wine Tanker

Owen White

Abstract

When shipping companies first experimented with transporting wine in steel containers in the 1930s they promised to revolutionize the way French Algeria sent its most important export to metropolitan France. What capitalists saw as a rational and efficient use of new technology, however, dockworkers and barrel-makers saw as a dire threat to their livelihoods in a time of intense economic hardship. This article traces the social conflict that followed the introduction of the wine tanker and the declining use of wine barrels in port cities in both Algeria and France. In doing so it illustrates the wide range of people and places that held a direct stake in economic activity arising from France’s colonization of Algeria, from the rural environments in which wine was produced all the way to distant urban spaces such as Rouen.

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Patrick Young, David Looseley, Elayne Oliphant, and Kolja Lindner

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Disruptive Technology

Social Media from Modiano to Zola and Proust

Elizabeth Emery

Abstract

In this article, Patrick Modiano’s 2014 Nobel Prize acceptance speech serves as a springboard to consider the lieu commun that “disruptive technology” is killing both literature and the contemporary press. Modiano’s depiction of himself as part of an “intermediate generation,” trapped between the intense focus of great nineteenth-century novelists and the many distractions of contemporary writers, cleverly invoked millennial anxieties related to new technology in order to establish his own place within literary history.

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Patricia Mainardi

Abstract

“Spreading the News: The Illustrated Press,” focuses on the new concept of the illustrated universal survey periodical that appeared early in the 1830s, first in England, then in France. It was enabled by technological advances such as the steam press, cheaper paper, wood engraving and stereotypes, as well as greater literacy among the citizenry. The earliest illustrated periodicals were published by social reformers in both countries who were attempting to raise the status of the working classes, but the medium soon attracted wealthier, more educated strata as well; within decades the illustrated press had spread throughout the world.

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Journalistes scandaleuses des années trente

Petite réflexion sur l’histoire de la presse de l’entre-deux-guerres

Marie-Ève Thérenty

Abstract

This article deals with women stunt reporters—French journalists Maryse Choisy, Marise Querlin, and Odette Pannetier—who chose to investigate under cover in the 1930s. Using various disguises, they made investigations into brothels, tricked their way into politicians’ home, and performed interviews under fake identities. Undercover reporting compensated for their difficulties in asserting themselves in a press created by and for men. It gave them a way to compete with male colleagues who were famous for sensational reportage all over the world. By focusing on such episodes, this article brings to light three heretofore unexplored facets of the history of the French press: immersion investigation, the history of women journalists, and the poetics of the 1930s press.

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La flânerie au feuilleton?

Quotidien et modernité critique chez Siegfried Kracauer

Catherine Nesci

Abstract

This essay explores Siegfried Kracauer’s journalistic work and urban miniatures of the late 1920s and the early 1930s, using the conceptual frameworks developed by Géraldine Muhlmann in Du journalisme en démocratie (2004), Marie-Ève Thérenty in La Littérature au quotidien (2007), and Guillaume Pinson in L’Imaginaire médiatique (2012). It argues that, in his capacity as publicist, “feuilletoniste,” and sociologist, Kracauer embodies Kant’s critical ideal of the public sphere, which Muhlmann identifies with the “journaliste-flâneur.” Featuring the everyday in its various social and cultural facets, Kracauer’s feuilletons not only focus on the ephemeral and fragmented nature of the everyday, but also foster the awareness of a modernity in crisis through the de-familiarization of surfaces, spaces, and objects. Published in the bottom of the Frankfurter Zeitung, Kracauer’s urban miniatures and reportages deploy rich interventions on the crisis of Western phenomenological, cognitive, and sociopolitical space.