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Republican Imperialisms

Narrating the History of “Empire” in France, 1885–1900

Christina Carroll

Abstract

In the 1880s and 1890s, a wave of histories of colonial empire appeared in France. But even though they were produced by members of similar republican colonial advocacy groups, these accounts narrated the history of empire in contradictory ways. Some positioned “colonial empire” as an enterprise with ancient roots, while others treated modern colonization as distinct. Some argued that French colonial empire was a unique enterprise in line with republican ideals, but others insisted that it was a European-wide project that transcended domestic political questions. By tracing the differences between these accounts, this article highlights the flexibility that characterized late nineteenth-century republican understandings of empire. It also points to the ways republican advocates for colonial expansion during this period looked both historically and comparatively to legitimize their visions for empire’s future in France.

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Searching for What Is Already Found

Ivan Jablonka and the Life of a Nobody

Melanie Hawthorne

Abstract

This article assesses the work of best-selling French historian Ivan Jablonka by setting his work in the context of biographies of ordinary people and by evaluating the success of his stated goal of reconciling lifewriting with social sciences. The article attempts to explicate his methodology of “searching for what is already found,” and considers the relevance of the critique of historicism in general articulated by some branches of the social sciences. It concludes that there is more to restorative biography than merely an explanation of causality.

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To Bear Witness After the Era of the Witness

The Projects of Christophe Boltanski and Ivan Jablonka

Donald Reid

Abstract

This essay examines how two French individuals in the third generation of Holocaust victims/survivors, Christophe Boltanski and Ivan Jablonka, research and present their grandparents and how they challenge contemporary memory culture. Their works differ in their ambitions and the strategies used to achieve them, but both Boltanski and Jablonka take the most disrespected of historical genres, the history of the author’s family, and reveal its potential in an arena where the duty to remember what was done to Jews as a group can obscure the complex individuals who were victims. These forgotten selves and what they reveal about the societies in which they lived are the subject of Boltanski’s and Jablonka’s work. Particular attention is devoted to the Communist parties in Poland and France and the relations of their grandparents to them.

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Two Failures of Left Internationalism

Political Mimesis at French University Counter-Summits, 2010–2011

Eli Thorkelson

Abstract

After the unsuccessful end of the spring 2009 French university movement, faculty and student activists searched for new political strategies. One promising option was an internationalist project that sought to unite anti-Bologna Project movements across Europe. Yet an ethnographic study of two international counter-summits in Brussels (March 2010) and Dijon (May 2011) shows that this strategy was unsuccessful. This article explores the causes of these failures, arguing that activist internationalism became caught in a trap of political mimesis, and that the form of official international summits was incompatible with activists’ temporal, representational, and reflexive needs.

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Between Resistance and the State

Caribbean Activism and the Invention of a National Memory of Slavery in France

Itay Lotem

Abstract

Between 1998 and 2006, the memory of slavery in France developed from a marginalized issue into a priority of the state. This article examines the process in which community activists and state actors interacted with and against one another to integrate remembrance and the commemoration of slavery and its abolitions into a Republican national narrative. It focuses on a series of actions from the protests against the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in 1998 to the creation of the 10 May National Memorial Day to Slavery and Its Abolitions in 2006. Basing its analysis on oral history interviews and various publications, this article argues that “memory activists”—and particularly new anti-racist groups—mobilized the memory of slavery to address issues of community identity and resistance within the context of twenty-first-century republicanism. In so doing, they articulated a new kind of black identity in France.

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Eric Jennings, Hanna Diamond, Constance Pâris de Bollardière, and Jessica Lynne Pearson

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A Bridge Across the Mediterranean

Nafissa Sid Cara and the Politics of Emancipation during the Algerian War

Elise Franklin

Abstract

During the Algerian War, Nafissa Sid Cara came to public prominence in two roles. As a secretary of state, Sid Cara oversaw the reform of Muslim marriage and divorce laws pursued by Charles de Gaulle’s administration as part of its integration campaign to unite France and Algeria. As president of the Mouvement de solidarité féminine, she sought to “emancipate” Algerian women so they could enjoy the rights France offered. Though the politics of the Algerian War circumscribed both roles, Sid Cara’s work with Algerian women did not remain limited by colonial rule. As Algeria approached independence, Sid Cara rearticulated the language of women’s rights as an apolitical and universal good, regardless of the future of the French colonial state, though she—and the language of women’s rights—remained bound to the former metropole.

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Christopher E. Forth

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L’impact de « mai-juin 1968 » sur la régulation sociale

Le cas de deux entreprises d’État en Haute-Garonne (1960–1975)

Clair Juilliet and Michael Llopart

Abstract

The social crisis of “May-June 1968” was part of a longer era of disruption and transformation in France. If much of the 1968 story is well known, we know less about how the events and their aftermath were experienced in various industrial sectors directly subject to the state’s authority. To explore this territory, this article examines the aeronautical firms and chemical companies in the département of the Haute-Garonne. These two sectors exemplify contrasting industrial trajectories through the 1960s and 1970s.

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Manufacturing a Multifunctional Countryside

Operational Landscapes, Urban Desire, and the French State, 1945–1976

Venus Bivar

Abstract

Rural France was instrumental to the experience of les trente glorieuses. Not only did rural France fuel economic growth and urbanization through increases in agricultural efficiency, but it also served as an imaginary counterpoint to the hustle and bustle of a new mass consumer society. In the first two decades of the postwar period, a productivist logic of agricultural output dominated rural land use policy. By the 1970s, however, after experiencing problems of surplus, the state turned toward a multifunctional approach. Rural lands were used to create regional parks, environmental preserves, and vacation properties. As both a site of agricultural production and urban consumption, rural France was operationalized to further the economic growth that defined les trente glorieuses.