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Errata

In Charles Cogan’s article, “The Iraq Crisis and France: Heaven-Sent Opportunity or Problem from Hell?”, French Politics, Culture & Society 22, 3 (Fall 2004), it was stated on page 126 that on 21 December 2002 the French Chief of Staff visited the Pentagon.

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Déjà Views

How Americans Look at France

Edward C. Knox

As the (un)diplomatic debates over Iraq in the first months of this year and the attendant media coverage amply attested, the well-known lovers’ quarrel between America and France, an “I Love You, Moi Non Plus”2 mixture of frustration and admiration, gratitude and annoyance, is now into its third century and still going strong, as France and the French clearly continue to inspire strong feelings in Americans.

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Introduction

Farmers still count for a lot in France, despite their shrinking numbers. Scarcely four per cent of the workforce now earns a living in agriculture. Yet, every politician knows that the country has a huge stake in farming— France is second only to the United States as an agricultural exporter—and that farmer unions wield clout. Farmers have cultural leverage as well. Rolling fields and rural hamlets still figure prominently in most people’s mental image of what makes France French and its social fabric whole.

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Introduction

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.

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European Union

Are the Founding Ideas Obsolete?

Isabelle Petit and George Ross

On 9 May 1950, in an elegant salon of the Quai d’Orsay in Paris, France’s Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed that France and Germany, plus any other democratic nation in Western Europe that wanted to join, establish a “community” to regulate and govern the coal and steel industries across national borders. France and Germany had been at, or preparing for, war for most of the nineteenth and twentieth century, at huge costs to millions of citizens. Moreover, in 1950 iron and steel remained central to national economic success and war-making power. The Schuman Plan therefore clearly spoke to deeper issues.

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In Memoriam

Gordon Wright (1912-2000)

Richard Kuisel

The new millennium brought the loss of the most eminent American historian of modern France. Gordon Wright, emeritus professor of history at Stanford University, died on the 11th of January in his California home.

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Aimé Césaire as Poet, Rebel, Statesman

William F.S. Miles

On 17 April 2008, at the age of ninety-four, the foremost Black French intellectual-cum-politician of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries passed away. Born in the northwestern fishing village of Basse Pointe on the southeastern Caribbean island of Martinique on 26 June 1913, Aimé Césaire rose from humble beginnings to become a giant in the annals of colonial and postcolonial francophone literature. As the holder of several elected offices, from city mayor of the capital of Martinique to representative in the National Assembly of France, he was also a significant political actor. He was largely responsible for the legislation that, following World War II, elevated four of France’s “Old Colonies” in the West Indies and Indian Ocean into full French states (départements). A dozen years later he founded a political party that would struggle to roll back the very assimilating, deculturalizing processes that statehood (départementalisation) unleashed.

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Introduction

Herrick Chapman

The hundredth anniversary of the 1905 law in France on the separation of church and state has led to a rich harvest of new scholarly work on laïcité and religion in public life. Centenaries often inspire conferences and publishing projects, especially in France. In the case of the 1905 law the temptation became irresistible in the wake of the creation of the Conseil français du culte musulman in 2002 (see the special spring 2005 issue of FPCS on the CFCM) and years of controversy over the wearing of Muslim headscarves in public schools. The Stasi Commission’s 2004 recommendation to ban the wearing of ostentatious religious signs in public schools, and a 2005 act of Parliament that made that view law, inspired sharp debate in France and beyond, adding further impetus to scholarly discussion of religion, politics, and the government’s regulation of matters religious.

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Regards croisés

Transatlantic Perspectives on the Colonial Situation

Emmanuelle Saada

In the past several years, colonial studies have reemerged as an important focus for the social sciences on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet there has been little exchange or communication between scholars in France and the United States. Moreover, the apparent commonality of the subject matter often masks important differences in approach, as well as differences in the political and scholarly agendas that support such research. The editors of this special issue of French Politics, Culture and Society believe that the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Georges Balandier’s classic article, “La situation coloniale, approche théorique” (Cahiers Internationaux de Sociologie 11 [1951]: 44-79), presents a valuable opportunity to promote Franco-American dialogue on the colonial question. This special issue publishes some of the works presented at a conference organized in April 2001 by the Institute of French Studies of New York University and entitled “1951-2001: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Colonial Situation.”

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Editorial

Herrick Chapman

With this issue the journal enters exciting new territory. As we announced to readers earlier this year, French Politics and Society now adds Culture to its name to signal our ambition to broaden the multidisciplinary reach of the journal. We encourage anthropologists, sociologists, and historians to see FPCS as a place to present their work to a remarkably diverse readership that spans the globe. We also welcome contributions from specialists exploring connections between French society and cultural expression of all sorts, including film, the visual arts, literature, and popular culture.