What does the French massacre of Amazigh people at El Herri in November 1914 reveal about broader patterns of colonial conquest? How do such patterns demonstrate the beliefs of French officers about the best way to conduct war at the beginning of World War I? Using extensive archival research, published primary sources, and Amazigh oral tradition, this article provides a narrative of the Battle of El Herri that analyzes the physical, sexual, and gendered violence that French troops exacted against Amazigh tribes. It argues that leading French military figures spun the “battle” to create a narrative that was racially inflected and self-serving. Led by Resident-General Lyautey, these leaders claimed that their philosophy of conquest was the only one that could result in successful war in Morocco, and by extension, Europe itself.
Narratives of Colonial Conquest during World War I
Letters from French War Orphans, 1915–1922
Bethany S. Keenan
This article examines a previously unstudied collection of letters from French World War I orphans and widows, published in US newspapers from 1915 to 1922, as a result of the US humanitarian effort Fatherless Children of France (FCOF). Through the analysis of the letters’ content and style, the article illuminates the lived experience of bereaved lower-income French families, notably highlighting the significance of grief and the impact of paternal loss on economic status, bringing out new evidence on how women and children experienced the war, as well as showing how humanitarian efforts connected French and American civilians during the war period.
The Visual Culture of the Congo Free State and Fin de Siècle Europe
Matthew G. Stanard
Studies of the visual culture of the Congo Free State (CFS) have focused overwhelmingly yet narrowly on the “atrocity” photograph used to criticize Leopold II’s colonial misrule. This article presents a new picture of the visual culture of Leopold II’s Congo Free State by examining a broader, more heterogeneous range of fin de siècle images of varied provenance that comprised the visual culture of the CFS. These include architecture, paintings, African artwork, and public monuments, many of which were positive, pro-Leopoldian images emphasizing a favorable view of colonialism. The visual culture of the CFS was imbued with recurring themes of violence, European heroism, and anti-Arab sentiment, and emerged from a unique, transnational, back-and-forth process whereby Leopold and his critics instrumentalized images to counter each other and achieve their goals.
War, Colonialism, and Zionism at a Mediterranean Crossroads, 1914–1920
In Tunisia, the end of World War I and the return of Muslims and European settlers from the front brought attacks against local Jews who had been exempt from conscription under French colonial rule. French commentators spoke of a “Jewish question” fueled by Muslim fanaticism and Jewish profiteering, obscuring their own divisive attitudes and policies. Colonial archives and the popular press, however, reveal that this was far from a monolithic sectarian concern. Jews responded to violence with a variety of transnational political visions. I explore how some Jews reaffirmed their loyalty to France, while others highlighted colonial hypocrisies. Others turned to solutions such as US protection or the Zionist movement. This Tunisian story, with its unique colonial arrangement and legal ambiguities, foregrounds an oft-overlooked North African perspective on the global questions of identity, nationalisms, and minority politics at the end of World War I.
France’s Great War from the Edge
Susan B. Whitney
World War I has been studied extensively by historians of France and for good reason. Waging the first industrial war required mobilizing all of France’s resources, whether military, political, economic, cultural, or imperial. Politicians from the left and the right joined forces to govern the country, priests and seminarians were drafted into the army, factories were retooled to produce armaments and other war material, and women and children were enlisted to do their part. So too were colonial subjects. More than 500,000 men from France’s empire fought in Europe for the French Army, while another 200,000 colonial subjects labored in France’s wartime workplaces. The human losses were staggering and the political, economic, and cultural reverberations long-lasting, both in the metropole and in the colonies. More than 1.3 million French soldiers and an estimated 71,000 colonial soldiers lost their lives, leaving behind approximately 1.1 million war orphans and 600,000 war widows.
The popularity of Ultramontanism and the political energy provided by Sacred Heart piety gave French Catholicism of the post-Commune era a militant posture, one that republican socialists saw as antagonistic to their political objectives. This article shows that socialists responded by emasculating their Catholic opponents. Drawing on the materialist tradition that emerged from the Enlightenment and Revolution, and highlighting the resignation and emotive nature of radical Catholic piety, republican socialists maintained that religious belief was evidence of inadequate virility. Speaking to the anxieties of the period, which included concerns about racial degeneration and the adequacy of France on the world stage, this gendering of epistemological convictions allowed socialists to argue for the exclusion of religion and the religious male from French politics.
Federica Stagni and Daryl Glaser
Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine, by Noura Erakat. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019. 331 pp.
Race, Class and the Post-Apartheid Democratic State, edited by John Reynolds, Ben Fine. and Robert van Niekerk. Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2019. 396 pp.
A Critique of Political Decolonisation in Ghana
While colonialism, in general, is a contested concept, as are the conditions that constitute its negation, political decolonisation seems to be a relatively settled argument. Where such decolonisation occurred, political independence, and its attendant democratic system and the undergirding of the rule of law, signify the self-evidentiality of such political decolonisation. This article rethinks this self-evidentiality of political independence as necessarily a decolonial political accomplishment in Ghana. This critical enterprise opens the documents that founded the newly independent state to alternative reading to demonstrate how the colonial folded itself into the dictate of freedom.
Updated for Big Data and Predictive Analytics
In 1990, Gilles Deleuze published Postscript on the Societies of Control, an introduction to the potentially suffocating reality of the nascent control society. This thirty-year update details how Deleuze's conception has developed from a broad speculative vision into specific economic mechanisms clustering around personal information, big data, predictive analytics, and marketing. The central claim is that today's advancing control society coerces without prohibitions, and through incentives that are not grim but enjoyable, even euphoric because they compel individuals to obey their own personal information. The article concludes by delineating two strategies for living that are as unexplored as control society itself because they are revealed and then enabled by the particular method of oppression that is control.
Gustavo H. Dalaqua
This article seeks to contribute to the debate on how political representation can promote democracy by analysing the Chamber in the Square, which is a component of legislative theatre. A set of techniques devised to democratise representative governments, legislative theatre was created by Augusto Boal when he was elected a political representative in 1993. After briefly reviewing Nadia Urbinati's understanding of democratic representation as a diarchy of will and judgement, I partially endorse Hélène Landemore's criticism and contend that if representation is to be democratic, citizens’ exchange of opinions in the public sphere should be invested with the power not only to judge but also to decide political affairs. By opening up a space where the represented can judge, decide, and contest the general terms of the bills representatives present in the assembly, the Chamber in the Square harnesses political representation to democracy.