This article explores the ways in which French intellectuals understood the changing and intersecting relationships between France and Germany, France and Alsace-Lorraine, and France and Africa during the early twentieth-century expansion of the French empire. The body of the text analyzes the interdisciplinary discussions of Paul Desjardins, Charles Gide, and their academic and activist colleagues at the Union pour la vérité (Union for Truth) and its Libres entretiens (Open Conversations) in the immediate aftermath of the First and Second Moroccan Crises. Focusing on the Union's 1905–1906 and 1912–1913 debates over the issues of nationalism, internationalism, imperialism, and colonization provides a new understanding of the relationship between French national identity and French imperial identity. The conclusion explains how and why this group of largely progressive French political analysts simultaneously rejected German expansion into France and justified French expansion across the African continent.
French Discussions of French and German Politics, Culture, and Colonialism in the Deliberations of the Union for Truth, 1905–1913
Jean Elisabeth Pedersen
Potel et Chabot and the Franco-Russian Alliance
Willa Z. Silverman
Between 1893 and 1901, the Parisian traiteur Potel et Chabot catered a series of gala meals celebrating the recent Franco-Russian alliance, which was heralded in France as ending its diplomatic isolation following the Franco-Prussian War. The firm was well adapted to the particularities of the unlikely alliance between Tsarist Russia and republican France. On the one hand, it represented a tradition of French luxury production, including haute cuisine, that the Third Republic was eager to promote. On the other, echoing the Republic’s championing of scientific and technological progress, it relied on innovative transportation and food conservation technologies, which it deployed spectacularly during a 1900 banquet for over twenty-two thousand French mayors, a modern “mega-event.” Culinary discourse therefore signaled, and palliated concerns about, the improbable nature of the alliance at the same time as it revealed important changes taking place in the catering profession.
The Dreyfus Affair in the Notebooks of Henri Vever
Willa Z. Silverman
This article analyzes representations of the Dreyfus Affair in the private diaries written between 1898 and 1901 by Henri Vever, a prominent Art Nouveau jeweler, art collector, and small-town mayor. The important place accorded the Affair in these “ordinary writings“ by an individual with no direct engagement in it offers an opportunity to assess how historical events become enmeshed with private life, mentalités, and sociability. Further, Vever's notebooks reveal position taking during the Affair as a complex phenomenon, in Vever's case influenced by circumstances encompassing his identity as both a native of Lorraine, marked by France's defeat in 1870, and a Republican notable and Parisian businessman. While Vever's notebooks corroborate some standard themes of Dreyfus Affair historiography, including the importance of the press and the eclipsing of the Affair by the 1900 World's Fair, they also nuance the idea of a rigid ideological division between Dreyfusards and anti-Dreyfusards.
Jean Elisabeth Pedersen
“What is a nation?” Ernest Renan’s famous rhetorical question to an audience at the Sorbonne on 11 March 1882 has remained vital for a wide variety of scholars in fields as diverse as history, literary criticism, sociology, philosophy, and political science. Renan initially posed the question barely ten years after the close of the Franco-Prussian War, which had sparked the establishment of the French Third Republic, the unification of Germany under the leadership of Wilhelm I, and the transfer of the disputed territory of Alsace-Lorraine from French to German control in the months between July 1870 and May 1871. Renan made no overt mention of these events while he was speaking, but he rejected any possible answer to his question that might attempt to base the creation of nations and national identities on shared “race, language, [economic] interests, religious affinity, geography, [or] military necessities.” This explicit refusal constituted an implicit rejection of the entire range of German justifications for the acquisition of the two recently French border provinces.
, that ‘a large proportion of the wounded … perished in the woods because they were not evacuated and treated.’” 21 During the Franco-Prussian War, “the French amputated some 13,200 limbs, with 10,000 gangrene and fever deaths—a mortality rate of 76
of horror and fascination when touring the destruction of Paris following the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. 17 After the Bloody Week of May 1871, Théophile Gautier and Edmond de Goncourt admitted to having “the yearning to see the grotesque
Exile and Injustice in the French Empire, 1866–1876
Binh and his family as the Franco-Prussian War intervened and all attempts to find him stalled as a consequence (although Guadeloupe did write, unhelpfully, in June saying that N'Guyen Van Vi had been returned to France in 1869). 29 As a result, no