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Decolonizing “La Brousse

Rural Medicine and Colonial Authority in Cameroon

Sarah C. Runcie

Abstract

This article examines French responses to transnational influences on medical education and rural health in Cameroon in the era of decolonization. As international organizations became increasingly involved in Cameroon in the postwar period, French military doctors claimed authority through specific expertise on medicine in the African “bush.” After Cameroon became independent, however, the building of new medical school became a focus of French anxieties about maintaining power in new African institutions of technical expertise and knowledge production. While scholars have begun to foreground the international context of Franco-African relations after independence, this article reveals how the distinct politics of Cameroon's decolonization, growing out of its history as a United Nations (UN) trust territory, shaped French approaches to medical institutions there. Moreover, negotiations over the future of rural medicine in Cameroon highlighted the ways in which the approaches championed by French doctors relied on colonial authority itself.

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Frédéric Viguier

Abstract

Since independence in 1956, Morocco has actively promoted Arabic and Arab culture through successive waves of “Arabization” policies in its educational system. Yet, French educational diplomas continue to be crucial resources in Morocco, while national Moroccan degrees retain little social and economic currency. Relying on ethnographic fieldwork in Morocco carried out in 2018, this article looks at students from various socioeconomic backgrounds, asks how the grip of French education seventy years after Moroccan independence is experienced on the ground, and provides historical context to account for this situation. It argues that Morocco is an extreme but representative example of how former French colonies—and countries in the Global South—have created new forms of dependence due to their attempts to expand access to education on limited budgets.

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The French Empire Goes to San Francisco

The Founding of the United Nations and the Limits of Colonial Reform

Jessica Lynne Pearson

Abstract

This article explores the French delegation's approach to debates about colonial oversight and accountability that took place at the Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in 1945, where delegates from fifty nations gathered to draft the United Nations (UN) Charter. Drawing on documents from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UN, and the American press, it argues that while French officials at home and in the empire were eagerly negotiating a new French Union that would put metropolitan France and the colonies on unprecedently equal footing, French delegates to the San Francisco conference were unwilling to take a stand for these reforms-in-progress. Ultimately, French delegates to the conference lacked confidence that the incipient French Union would stand up to international scrutiny as these delegates worked to establish new international standards for what constituted “self-government.”

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An Indochinese Dominion

L'Effort indochinois and Autonomy in a Global Context, 1936–1939

M. Kathryn Edwards

Abstract

Across the French Empire, the interwar period was critical to the political mobilization that would come to drive the struggles for independence in the post-1945 era. In French Indochina, and especially in its three Vietnamese regions, dynamic debates over reform, modernization, and the colonial relationship with France marked this period. Reformers included integrationists seeking a closer rapport with France, separatists seeking complete independence, and autonomists seeking a middle ground between the two. The advent of the Popular Front in June 1936 acted as a catalyst for reformers of all stripes, who hoped that the new regime would live up to its progressive credentials. This article explores the case for Indochinese autonomy through an analysis of the French-language Vietnamese newspaper L'Effort indochinois, which was founded in October 1936. It explores the domestic and global frameworks of this campaign, and it demonstrates how foreign models of autonomous states like Canada and foreign threats to Indochinese security fundamentally shaped L'Effort's demands for Indochinese autonomy. It further seeks to contribute to the existing scholarship on the diversity of the Vietnamese reformist landscape on the eve of decolonization.

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Introduction

Globalizing the History of French Decolonization

Jessica Lynne Pearson

Abstract

While the recent “transnational” and “global” turns in history have inspired new approaches to studying the French Revolution and the French Resistance, they have made a surprisingly minor impact on the study of French decolonization. Adopting a global or transnational lens, this special issue argues, can open up new possibilities for broadening our understanding of the collapse of France's global empire in the mid-twentieth century as well as the reverberations of decolonization into the twenty-first.

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Le Rallye Méditerranée-le Cap

Racing towards Eurafrica?

Megan Brown

Abstract

The retired military officers who organized the Rallye Méditerranée-le-Cap, a biennial car race from Algiers to Cape Town, did so to promote Eurafrica. Eurafrica, an idealized geopolitical fusion of the continents, would be a site of European partnership, with the rally literally paving the way. When its wealthy participants first took to the road in 1951, France, Belgium, and Britain administered much of the course. This article argues that the organizers viewed tourism as the best method for upholding European sovereignty in Africa. However, they did not account for new ways of doing empire in the postwar era, most notably the strength of anti-imperial activism and the advent of technologies that did not require direct access to large swathes of land. By the time of the fifth and final rally in 1961, organizers contended with realities they preferred to ignore: newly independent African states and the ongoing Algerian War of Independence.

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Periphery and Intimacy in Anti-Imperial Culture and Politics

From French Others to Othering Frenchness

Burleigh Hendrickson

Abstract

In the late period of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French imperialism, French thinkers, artists, and colonists had long held a fascination with the “others” inhabiting France's colonies. Intimate contact and cross-cultural encounters led to descriptions and often violent differentiations of these groups that helped define French identity. But what might we learn by employing a “postcolonial praxis” that seeks new ways of interrogating identity from anti-imperial actors? Taking the perspectives of three key anti-imperialists—Frantz Fanon, Ousmane Sembène, and Simone Lellouche Othmani—this article unearths their perceptions about France and French identity. For these figures, France could represent either an unfulfilled promised land or a place of exile. Frenchness, likewise, ran the spectrum from a set of desired if unattainable qualities, an immoral culture to be resisted at all costs, to a national identity to be deployed for political strategy. This radical approach turns Frenchness into an “other” while contributing to the emergence of new postcolonial identities. At the same time, it demonstrates how three important definitions of France and of Frenchness depended upon both peripheral positionality and intimate access to French culture.

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Think Global, Fight Local

Recontextualizing the French Army in Algeria, 1954–1962

Terrence G. Peterson

Abstract

For many within the French military, the war over Algeria's independence that raged from 1954 to 1962 appeared global: not an isolated conflict, but one front in a broader subversive war waged by Communist revolutionaries. As historians have long noted, this perspective was inaccurate. For that reason, the social and cultural contexts that defined military practice during the early years of the conflict have not been fully explored. This article argues, however, that these global narratives mattered, and can help historians to trace both how global events shaped military thinking about Algeria and how the war helped forge more concrete transnational connections. As they honed their operational doctrines in Algeria, French military leaders looked abroad: not only to understand the war in Algeria, but to promote their own practices as a universal response to the social upheavals of the era.

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Aaron Freundschuh, Jonah D. Levy, Patricia Lorcin, Alexis Spire, Steven Zdatny, Caroline Ford, Minayo Nasiali, George Ross, William Poulin-Deltour, and Kathryn Kleppinger

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Colette française (et fille de zouave)

Colette and the French Singularity

Kathleen Antonioli

Abstract

This article argues that French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette occupies a central position in the canon of French women's writing, and that from this position her reception was deeply influential in the development of the myth of French singularity. After World War I, a style of femininity associated with Colette (natural, instinctive, antirational) became more largely synonymous with good French women's writing, and writers who did not correspond to the “genre Colette” were excluded from narratives of the history of French women's writing. Characteristics associated with Colette's writing did not shift drastically before and after the war, but, in the wake of the Great War, these characteristics were nationalized and became French.