Unanimously celebrated as an authentic representation of French railroad workers' resistance against the Germans during the Occupation, René Clément's La Bataille du rail (The Battle of the Rails, 1945) was a valuable piece of ideological capital in the wake of France's liberation. Through a close reading of the film's production and reception, this article shows that the film's heroic blueprinting of the Resistance was the result of mediation between two opposing points of view: that of the Marxist Left, which sought to portray the Resistance as belonging to the working class, and that of the Gaullists, who were intent on promoting the myth of an idealized "True France" without class or ideological divisions and united in its opposition to the Germans.
Jennifer Anne Boittin, Christina Firpo, and Emily Musil Church
This article looks at French Indochina, metropolitan France, and French West Africa from 1914 through 1946 to illustrate specific ways in which French colonial authority operated across the French empire. We look at how colonized people challenged the complex formal and informal hierarchies of race, class, and gender that French administrators and colonizers sought to impose upon them. We argue that both the French imperial prerogatives and colonized peoples' responses to them are revealed through directly comparing and contrasting various locales across the empire. Our case studies explore interracial families and single white women seeking compensation from the French in Indochina, black men de ning their masculinity, and Africans debating women's suffrage rights.
Paternalism and Masculinity on the Republican Right in Interwar France, 1919-1939
"Des Hommes et des citoyens: Paternalism and Masculinity on the Republican Right in Interwar France, 1919-1939," explores the masculine ideals of France's three main right-of-centre republican parties during the interwar period: the Fédération républicaine, the Parti démocrate populaire, and the Alliance démocratique. These parties desired men to be determined, principled, inflexible, respectable, hard-working, selfless, paternalist, republican and nationalist, and to father as many legitimate children as possible. Moreover, a discourse of paternalism pervaded the republican right's rhetoric and ideology, thereby providing the basis for many of its policies, as well as an obstacle to those, including feminists, who wished to challenge the status quo. This paternalism was consonant with the parties' class position and commingled with a masculine conception of citizenship that underlay the parties' principles and obstructed proponents of women's suffrage.
Les Petits Entrepreneurs Etrangers en France dans l’Entre-Deux-Guerres
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.
Military Justice on Trial in Belle Époque France
French military justice constituted an "exceptional jurisdiction": a legal subsystem designed to serve not justice but discipline, and carefully insulated from external political intervention. Reformers had attempted to ameliorate its harshness. But when the Clemenceau government elected to abort further reforms in 1907-09, it strengthened the case of radicals who insisted that military justice was unreformable by the bourgeois state. Radicals sought not to improve the quality of military justice, but to expose its linkage to the class struggle (i.e., to portray the Army and its courts as devourers of proletarian youth). When Émile Rousset alleged that Albert Aernoult, his fellow prisoner in an Algerian compagnie de discipline, had been beaten to death by guards, he created an opportunity for radicals to advance that agenda. The Aernoult-Rousset Affair (1909-12) did breach the political insularity of French military justice. Yet the Affair's political and juridical outcomes were ambiguous.
Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) is commonly remembered as the archnemesis of economics, which he notoriously dubbed “the dismal science.” This article, however, suggests that Carlyle’s ideas in fact had a considerable influence among economists during the decades following his death. Indeed, an array of economists cited Carlyle in criticizing self-interest, laissez-faire, and materialism, in suggesting that economic science ought to accord greater importance to moral and ethical factors, and in urging the “Captains of Industry” and the state to exercise paternal guidance over the working classes. In short, Carlyle’s writings shaped these economists’ understanding, portrayal, and critique of the previous generation of so-called “old” economists, as well as their self-understanding as self-professed “new” economists.
Today there is a fascination with a new category of elites: the globalized management businessman. The notion of “elite” refers here to a group of people believed to be more competent in a particular field than others; Jack Welsh (GEC), Bill Gates (Microsoft) are among the best-known examples. The members of this social group have their own perception of reality and they also have a distinct class identity, recognizing themselves as separate and superior to the rest of society. Newcomers are socialized and co-opted by the group on the basis of internal criteria established by the existing group members. Therefore group members are more or less interchangeable and may move from one institution—in this case a corporation—to another within the group. Whether defined as heterogeneous or homogeneous, this group utilizes cultural mythologies that serve to legitimize their status and power: these are the focus of this article.
Elizabeth C. Macknight
Gender and class informed the attitudes of French noblemen toward military training and an army career in the France of the early Third Republic. Honor for the male aristocracy was considered to be “in the blood” and still very closely bound to ancient military virtues of duty, bravery, and sacrifice. Boys raised in noble families were conditioned to value martial honor—and to seek to embody it—well before entering prestigious military academies in adolescence. Ancestral tradition created pressure on noblemen to serve with distinction in the army and, by doing so, to conform to an ideal of military manhood. This strained some noblemen's relationships with male relatives and the cross-generational imperative to uphold the warrior ethos led many to their death on the battlefield.
Robert L. Paquette
Most historians, even specialists in the field of slavery, know little about the largest and bloodiest slave insurrection in United States history. The revolt broke out in a sugar-producing region in the Territory of Orleans in 1811, one year before Louisiana's statehood. A disciplined army of rebels composed of men and women, African-born slaves and creole slaves, mulattoes and blacks, skilled slaves and field hands, marched down the east bank of the Mississippi River in quickstep toward New Orleans. Stunned eyewitnesses observe slaves in military formation with drums beating and flags waving. At least some of the leaders of the revolt were uniformed, mounted on horseback, and wielded rearms. Charles, a mulatto slave driver allegedly from Saint-Domingue (Haiti), led the uprising. The 1811 insurrection raises big questions about the causes and content of slave rebellion. Why did the insurrection break out when and where it did? How were slaves of different types from different plantations mobilized to revolt? Was the Louisiana insurrection influenced by the slave revolution in Saint-Domingue? Or were the causes of the revolt local? Why did free-people of color assist whites in suppressing the movement? What were the goals of the rebels? Summary justice led to the grisly executions and mutilations of scores of slaves. Did torture and terror have the desired results for the master class?
E. P. Thompson, C. L. R. James, and the Afterlives of Internationalism
In 1983, H. O. Nazareth directed a film called Talking History, which brought together E. P. Thompson and C. L. R. James in conversation. The soundtrack was composed by Spartacus R, former bassist for the Black Rock band, Osibisa. Over the twenty years since the publication of The Making of the English Working Class in 1963, Thompson had confronted several questions around colonialism, law, and constitutionalism that had not found emphasis in The Making. Talking History marks a unique point in the trajectory of Thompson's engagement with some of those questions, while simultaneously revealing the limits of that engagement. In addition to being a useful window into the political worldview of James and Thompson in the early 1980s, the film is also demonstrative of the afterlives of internationalism in the twentieth century. This article argues that revisiting internationalism, as a practice of political activism and critical dialogue, with its possibilities and limits, allows us to carefully rethink some of our contemporary political and intellectual practices.