This interdisciplinary special issue of French Politics, Culture & Society presents five articles by historians and literary critics with a common interest in one particular aspect of what scholars across a range of fields have identified
Historicizing the Gallic Singularity
Jean Elisabeth Pedersen
Assessing France as a Model of Societal Success
Éloi Laurent and Michèle Lamont
In this article, we propose a definition of the elusive "French model" of societal success and explore its usefulness for understanding the forces shaping France's future. This model, we suggest, remains "statist-republicanist": its democracy revolves around the idea of republicanism, while its economy continues to rely heavily on market regulation and public intervention. We assess France's model of societal success, which requires exploring the country's long-term assets and liabilities for human development. We argue, first of all, that France relies on a combination of a high fertility rate, an excellent health care system, a low level of income inequalities, and "de-carbonized growth"; second, that it continues to have a major liability, namely, a shadow French model of cultural membership that sustains segregation and discrimination; and third, that it experiences an important decoupling between its profound socio-economic transformations, on the one hand, and its political discourse and representations of the polity, on the other.
Naomi J. Andrews and Jennifer E. Sessions
Scholarly attention to the history and legacies of France's overseas empire is a welcome development of the last two decades, but the field of modern French colonial history has become overly focused on the “tensions” and “contradictions” of universalist republican imperialism. This introduction argues that we must recognize the ideological diversity of the French state and the complexity of the relationships between colonial and metropolitan histories in the modern period. The articles in this special issue show the critical role of the non-republican regimes of the nineteenth century in the construction of the modern French empire, and the ways that colonial entanglements shaped processes of post-Revolutionary reconstruction in France under the Restoration (1815–1830), July Monarchy (1830–1848), Second Republic (1848–1851), and Second Empire (1852–1870).
Perspectives on a Protean Concept
This introductory article reflects on the new momentum that political radicalism has taken on in France. The ebb and flow of radical aspiration featured regularly in French politics under the Fourth and early Fifth Republics, before the failure of the "Socialist experiment" in the early 1980s brought about a paradigm shift. In the wake of this failure and with the "end of ideology" supposedly in sight, political leaders and parties tempered their appeals to radical solutions and conspired, not least through recurrent power-sharing, to vacate mainstream political discourse of much of its former radicalism. Since the presidential election of 2007, however, there has been a marked return to promises of radical change as the common currency of political discourse across the full left-right spectrum in France. This article introduces a special issue of French Politics, Culture & Society that brings together scholars from France, Britain, and Canada to discuss some of the meanings, expressions, and prospects of political radicalism in France today.
Globalizing the History of French Decolonization
Jessica Lynne Pearson
In the winter 2014 issue of French Historical Studies , David A. Bell evocatively wrote that over the course of the last three decades historians have “taken so many different historiographical turns as to leave us all staggering about dizzily
With FPCS embarking on its fourth decade of publishing work on the study of France and the francophone world, the journal invited scholars in several disciplines to write short essays on where they thought the field of French Studies should head in the future. This essay introduces the resulting dossier on “French Studies and Its Futures.” It situates the project in the current context in which the field is thriving intellectually but struggling with menacing institutional pressures. It goes on to describe the particular formulation of French Studies that the journal came to represent in its early years in the 1980s, how it evolved since, and what that experience suggests about how scholars can respond creatively to the challenges and opportunities the future may hold for the field.
Owen White and Elizabeth Heath
If the past twenty years or so of heightened interest in the history of the French Empire has delivered a satisfactory return on scholarly investment, it seems fair to say that the theme of economic life within that empire has received something of
A Family Story
parent for not gathering the story from ancestors when it was possible. 1 As a historian of contemporary France with expertise in oral history and an innate sensibility to elderly folk, the opportunity to record and historicize the Libraty and Cohen life
An American scholar is often struck by the absence of race in France as a category of analysis or the absence of discussions of race in its historical or sociological dimensions. After all, “race” on this side of the Atlantic, for reasons having to do with the peculiar history of the United States, has long been a focus of discussion. The notion of race has shaped scholarly analysis for decades, in history, sociology, and political science. Race also constitutes a category regularly employed by the state, in the census, in electoral districting, and in affirmative action. In France, on the contrary, race hardly seems acknowledged, in spite of both scholarly and governmental preoccupation with racism and immigration.
Arguing that the resistance in France during the Second World War was always transnational in important ways, this piece identifies some of the recent scholarship that has expanded both the temporal and geographic parameters of the French Resistance. It introduces some of the key themes of this collection of articles and underscores the important contributions made by the participating authors. As these articles reveal, we can find sites of transnational resistance by looking at the relationship between the Allies and the resistance, the role that non-French denizens played in the resistance, the politics of cultural resistance, and the circulation of downed Anglo-American aircrews in Europe.