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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.

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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.