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Racial or Spatial Categorisations?

A Focus on the French Setting

Magali Bessone

The hypothesis developed in the paper is that the relation between race and space, under-explored in philosophy, is a powerful theoretical instrument for understanding racial injustices and can be used to renew racial categorisation in a more critical, transformative manner. It argues that only constructivism, in its 'interactive constructionism' version (Hacking 1999), can make sense of both concepts in a relevant way for political theory, and provide a general critical frame to study the relation between both concepts, thereby replying to the powerful arguments of racial scepticism. After specifying what such a position entails for the 'race' concept, the paper argues that 'space', itself conceived in a constructionist perspective, is a core element of current referents of 'race' in our folk conceptions. It shows that France, despite its pretence of racial blindness, is not a counter-example, but rather reinforces the hypothesis. Hence, space should be more thoroughly reinvestigated at an epistemological and theoretical level in exploring our racial thinking.

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Elite de Façade et Mirages de l’Independance

Les Petits Entrepreneurs Etrangers en France dans l’Entre-Deux-Guerres

Claire Zalc

In the literature, immigrant entrepreneurs are described as the élite of the best “integrated” immigrants. Histories of migrant communities all insist on the role of the entrepreneurs as the center of the community and the symbol of social success. In this paper, I will discuss the diverse social meaning attached to being an entrepreneur for an immigrant in Paris during the interwar period. In order to describe the social position of immigrant entrepreneurs, I worked on professional careers, based on the study of more than two hundred applications for French nationality from foreign entrepreneurs during the first half of the twentieth century. It's hard to conclude that there is a one-way social mobility of entrepreneurs, either ascendant or descendent. While some went from the working class to owning a shop, eventually able to spend and save money, others became entrepreneurs as a necessity rather than choice.

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Parasites from all Civilizations

The Croix de Feu/Parti Social Français Confronts French Jewry, 1931-1939

Samuel Kalman

Refuting claims made by several historians that the Croix de Feu/Parti social français were non-exclusionary, this article demonstrates the prevalence of anti-Semitism and xenophobia throughout the league's metropolitan and Algerian sections. CDF/PSF leadership and rank-and-file alike prioritized the notion of the enemy, and their plans for les exclus augured similar developments under the Vichy regime. Although less rabidly xenophobic than his colleagues, whose opinions variously promoted denaturalization and outright elimination, group leader Colonel Françaois de la Rocque was nonetheless prone to racist and exclusionary doctrine, arguing that foreign Jews and immigrants were the enemies of la patrie, and should necessarily be expunged from the new nation. The article describes the wide range of xenophobia present in group actions and discourse, while positioning the CDF/PSF within the broader context of French and Algerian society.

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Arthur Goldhammer

The evolution of French culture from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century is described as a succession of three "cultural configurations": humanist (or literary/philosophical), scientific/organic, and industrial. The transformation of the culture is linked to changes in the educational system in response to France's altered place in the global order after 1945. French attitudes toward, and internal critiques of, the shifting cultural hegemony are examined as both causes and consequences of these evolving configurations.

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Jewish Heritage in France

Evaluation of Twenty Years Work and Protection

Dominique Jarrassé

France awoke fairly late to the realisation that specific protection was required for its Jewish heritage. For many years, the only thought was to safeguard a few eighteenth-century buildings of exceptional quality without considering their value as representatives of the Jewish inheritance. Thus, in 1924, the synagogues under threat at Carpentras and Cavaillon were saved by being classified as historic monuments. It was not until the 1980s that a campaign to research and protect this heritage got under way. The regional Departments for the Preservation of Historic Monuments were given the idea of ‘recent heritage’ by their supervising ministerial department.

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Of Pirates, Postcards, and Public Beheadings

The Pedagogic Execution in French Colonial Indochina

Michael G. Vann

While there is a large body of literature on violence in colonial history, most studies have looked at either the bloodshed of conquest, major revolts, or decolonization. Despite the undeniable importance of such moments in the history of empire, an over-emphasis on these events creates a punctuated narrative where violence enters the story line, rears its ugly head, and then retreats. This paper argues that a complete understanding of the colonial encounter requires us to look at the violence in the many days between the arrival of the colonizers' expeditionary forces and the final achievement of national liberation. By examining the intersection between a rebellious band of pirates, a colonial state bent on revenge, and an opportunistic postcard maker, the portrait that emerges is one of a colonial society where violence was not just commonplace but an essential technique in maintaining the colonial order. Be it in the form of criminal violence that challenged French rule, the institutionalized violence of the state execution, or the symbolic reminders of such violence in the form of cheap postcards for sale in the city streets, acts, images, and memories of colonial violence were omnipresent. Importantly, the colonial state publicized its violence, making its ability to punish known to all. This violence terrorized the conquered native population and reassured the vulnerable white community. It is only in this context that other topics in colonial history such as educational reforms, city planning, and economic development can be understood.

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The Mendès France Milk Regime

Alcoholism as a Problem of Agricultural Subsidies, 1954–1955

Joseph Bohling

In 1954, Pierre Mendès France committed the state to curbing alcoholism as part of an effort to reorient important agricultural sectors and improve French economic performance, using milk as a symbol of his government's new direction. While Mendès France's milk drinking was often portrayed as the whim of a maverick politician, this article shows instead that it was the expression of a broadly based movement to modernize the economy. Challenging the view of an insular state that exclusively served the powerful alcohol lobbies, this article contends that the success of alcohol reform hinged on Mendès France's ability to overcome parliament and pit other economic sectors and a public health movement against those lobbies. Although it would require the more centralized authority of the Fifth Republic to implement lasting reforms to the alcohol sector, the Mendès France government helped raise public awareness about the purported link between alcoholism and agricultural subsidies that kept uncompetitive producers on the land at the taxpayer's expense.

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Menachem Begin’s World Travels in the 1950s

A Road to Political Legitimacy

Ofira Gruweis-Kovalsky

, founder and leader of the newly formed Herut party, left Israel for a tour of Jewish communities in the United States and France with an entourage of senior party members. Begin’s decision to prioritize overseas travel at such a time marked the onset of

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Tyler Stovall

Tzvetan Todorov, On Human Diversity: Nationalism, Racism, and Exoticism in French Thought (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993)

Sue Peabody, “There Are No Slaves in France”: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

Patricia M. E. Lorcin, Imperial Identities: Stereotyping, Prejudice and Race in Colonial Algeria (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1995)

Maxim Silverman, Deconstructing the Nation: Immigration, Racism and Citizenship in Modern France (London and New York: Routledge, 1992)

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Philip H. Gordon and Sophie Meunier

The nature of the French economy has changed radically in recent years. Breaking with its mercantilist and dirigiste past, France has since the early 1980s converted to market liberalization, both as the necessary by-product of European integration and globalization and as a deliberate effort by policymakers. Whereas the French state used to own large sectors of the economy, partly to keep them from foreign control, now even a Socialist-led government proceeds with privatization, with scant regard for the nationality of the buyer.