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Objects of Dispute

Planning, Discourse, and State Power in Post-War France

Edward Welch

Abstract

During the presidency of Charles de Gaulle (1958–1969), state-led spatial planning transformed the Paris region. The aim of the Schéma directeur d’aménagement et d’urbanisme de la région de Paris (1965) was to improve urban life through modernization; but its scale and ambition meant that it came to represent the hubris of state power. This article examines the role of discourse and narrative in state planning. It explores the role of planning discourses in the production of space, as well as stories told about planning by the planners and those who live with their actions. It investigates perceptions of power in post-war France, placing the Gaullist view of the state as a force for good in the context of contemporary critiques of state power. Addressing the relationship between power, resistance, and critique, it sees the environments produced by spatial planning as complex objects of dispute, enmeshed in conflicting hopes and visions of the future.

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Nicolas Mariot

Abstract

The First World War has been described as an exceptional moment of comradeship, so great that it was able to break even the strongest class barriers. Were social distances and class hierarchies temporarily forgotten or abolished for the millions of Frenchmen of diverse origins who were called to arms in defense of their country? The article is about this novel experiment, provoking encounters and contacts on a huge scale and often for the first time, between an overwhelming majority of manual workers and petty employees of humble extraction, and a small number of bourgeois and intellectuals. It tells the story of the discovery, by the French bourgeoisie of the Belle Epoque, of the ordinary people who fought in the trenches.

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“Algeria for the Algerians”

Public Education and Settler Identity in the Early Third Republic

Kyle Francis

Abstract

This article uses an 1881 revolt by settler students at the normal school of Algiers to explore issues of settler identity formation, anticlericalism, and racism. It argues that in the early Third Republic, settlers began to see the public school as a key site for creating a distinctly “Algerian” identity, one that excluded both Algerian Muslims and even new arrivals from the metropole. In this effort, settlers sought to implement radical versions of French republicanism and anticlericalism that were in reality highly restrictive, as they combined both metropolitan disdain for Catholicism and colonial scorn towards Islam. The investigations precipitated by the revolt reveal a colony and metropole whose fundamental concepts took shape in circuit between France and Algeria. The version of republicanism that emerged in Algeria served as an important precursor for the exclusive republicanism and its prohibitions on the public expression of faith in the ascendency in France today.

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Black October

Comics, Memory, and Cultural Representations of 17 October 1961

Claire Gorrara

Abstract

The brutal police repression of the demonstration of 17 October 1961 stands as a stark reminder of the violence of French colonialism. A continuing official reluctance to acknowledge these traumatic events has led individuals and groups to seek alternative routes for recognition. This article explores one of these alternative routes: the comic book, and specifically Octobre Noir, a collaboration between writer Didier Daeninckx and graphic artist Mako. By analyzing the reframing of 17 October 1961 within the comic form, this article argues that Octobre noir offers a site for interrogating the relationship between history and memory. This is achieved by exchanging a cultural narrative of police brutality and Algerian victimization for a narrative of legitimate protest and Algerian political agency. Octobre noir exemplifies the value of the comic book as a vector of memory able to represent the past in ways that enrich historical analysis and inter disciplinary debate.

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Hannah Callaway, Alec G. Hargreaves, and John P. Murphy

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By Sentiment and By Status

Remembering and Forgetting Crémieux during the Franco-Algerian War

Jessica Hammerman

Abstract

Jewish leaders during the Franco-Algerian War (1954–1962) drastically changed their statements on Jewish-Algerian identity, history, and status. Below, we examine this shift by analyzing their statements about Adolphe Crémieux, the namesake of the decree that gave Algerian Jews French citizenship in 1870. Between 1954 and 1962, Jewish leaders went from adulation to dismissal as they discussed the man and his legacy. Analyzing statements about Crémieux brings into sharp relief the Jews’ legal situation in Algeria, which arbitrarily changed at certain moments. A look at these statements also reveals the instability of the French colonial system in Algeria. The first part of this article argues that the Crémieux Decree—already fundational to Jewish-Algerian identity—took on a new importance after the Second World War into the 1950s. The second part looks at reversals in attitudes toward Crémieux a few years later.

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Yan Slobodkin

Abstract

Between 1900 and 1939, the French empire devoted increasing attention to the problems of hunger and famine in the colonies. Influenced by discoveries associated with the emerging science of nutrition and under pressure from international organizations such as the League of Nations, French colonial administrations accepted food security as their most basic responsibility to their territories overseas. French scientists and administrators applied nutritional insights first to individuals in the fight against deficiency disease, then to “races” in an attempt to increase labor productivity, and finally to colonial populations as a whole. But as increasingly sophisticated notions of nutrition and public health influenced colonial administration, it became clear that the lofty promises of nutrition science were empty in a context in which subjects struggled to achieve minimum subsistence. The inability of the French empire to fulfill its responsibilities undermined the ideological justification for colonialism.

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Memorial

Allan Mitchell, 1933—2016

Volker Berghahn

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The Rhizomatic Algerian Revolution in Three Twenty-First- Century Transnational Documentaries

Algérie tours, détours (2006), La Chine est encore loin (2009), Fidaï (2012)

Nicole Beth Wallenbrock

Abstract

This article investigates three recent transnational documentaries. The films invoke the theoretical concept of the rhizome, as understood by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, for the works trouble the line between past and present, as well as empirical geography that seperates North Africa from France with the Meditteranean. In this way, the three works that study Algeria’s founding and its historical memory can be regarded as experimental explorations of spatial and temporal concepts.

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Selective Empathy

Workers, Colonial Subjects, and the Affective Politics of French Romantic Socialism

Naomi J. Andrews

Abstract

During the 1830s and 1840s, romantic socialists in France wrote about three subjugated groups in the French empire: metropolitan workers, slaves in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean colonies, and Algerian civilians. Although these three groups ostensibly shared similar conditions of deprivation and violent treatment at the hands of the French state, socialists depicted them in importantly different terms, with the effect of humanizing workers and slaves, while dehumanizing the Algerians suffering French conquest and colonization. This article explores these presentations and examines the way they worked together to champion the socialist priority, the emergent working classes of the July Monarchy, and to indirectly endorse the settler colonial project in Algeria.