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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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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).

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Political Radicalism in France

Perspectives on a Protean Concept

James Shields

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.

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Herrick Chapman

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.

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Laura Frader

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.

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Valerie Deacon

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.

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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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Giuliana Chamedes and Elizabeth A. Foster

Scholarly attention to decolonization in the French Empire and beyond has largely focused on the political transitions from colonies to nation-states. This introduction, and the essays in this special issue, present new ways of looking at decolonization by examining how religious communities and institutions imagined and experienced the end of French Empire. This approach adds valuable perspectives obscured by historiographical emphasis on French republican secularism and on the workings of the colonial state. Bringing together histories of religion and decolonization sheds new light on the late colonial period and the early successor states of the French empire. It also points to the importance of international institutions and transnational religious communities in the transitions at the end of empire.

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French Cinema

Globalization, Representation, and Resistance

Graeme Hayes and Martin O'Shaughnessy

It is now twelve years since French brinkmanship pushed American negotiators and the prospects of a world trade deal to the wire, securing the exclusion of cultural products and services from the 1993 GATT agreement and the maintenance of European systems of national quotas, public subsidies, and intellectual property rights in the audiovisual sector. The intervening period has not been quiet. Although the Multilateral Agreement on Investment was sunk when Lionel Jospin pulled the plug on negotiations in October 1998, the applications of new central European entrants to join the European Union and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have been accompanied by a continuing guerrilla battle fought by successive American administrations against the terms and scope of the exclusion.

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Owen White and Elizabeth Heath

This introduction to the dossier “Wine, Economy, and Empire” surveys the place of economic history in the field of French Empire studies over the last twenty years. Drawing upon the concept of “economic life” as defined by William Sewell, the authors argue that a renewed focus on economic activity within the French Empire offers new opportunities to interrogate commonplace ideas about chronology, imperial forms, and structures of power. The article briefly examines some of the specific avenues of inquiry opened by a conception of economic life as socially “embedded,” while highlighting recent works that exemplify the possibilities of this approach for scholars of empire.