This interdisciplinary special issue of French Politics, Culture & Society presents five articles by historians and literary critics with a common interest in one particular aspect of what scholars across a range of fields have identified
Historicizing the Gallic Singularity
Jean Elisabeth Pedersen
The Government of Kafala by the Institutions of Adoption
Research on adoptive parenthood in Europe pays little attention to the circulation of children between France and the Maghreb via the kafala, a fosterage system in Muslim law. However, the practices of the kafala system are constantly evolving
During my ethnographic research in Morocco in the spring of 2018, when I explained that I was researching the role of French and French degrees in present-day Morocco, my Moroccan interlocutors would occasionally answer that I was working on an
The Hot Autumn of 2010 and the Transformation of Labor Contention in France
This article asks whether the wave of protest in the fall of 2010 in France can be interpreted as evidence of persisting radicalism. It argues that, in spite of appearances, the French labor movement is no longer radical. This claim does not imply that industrial conflict is disappearing. Strong legacies and institutional processes still feed conflict in the workplace and often push workers to use contentious, extra-institutional means; but industrial conflict is not what it used to be, with the total number of working days lost to strikes decreasing steadily over the past forty years, and with conflict itself being reconfigured and transformed. Labor contention is no longer driven by an offensive agenda and has become essentially defensive. If there is radicalism left in France, it might be best described as a "radicalism of tradition." The article concludes by discussing the relevance of "radicalism" as an analytical category to make sense of labor contention in contemporary France.
World War II, the Cold War, and Science in the United States and France
Before addressing its central concern—the convergence of science, war, institutions, and politics in the postwar period in France and the United States—, this essay evokes how scientific knowledge had been of importance to warfare and economic elites in the preceding centuries. In the 1940s and 1950s, scientific activities were profoundly redefined. A culture of laboratory solutions, of calculus, and management won the day. For the scientists, that meant versatility and a willingness to work between disciplines and métiers and to confront the nation's main concerns. It also led to increasingly technocratic versions of politics. Due to science, the state became a managerial apparatus, a "modernizer" arbitrating among different scenarios. Contrary to what happened in the United States, science was not center stage in France in the 1940s and early 1950s. The habitus of scientists was that of the prewar period, and they were still not technique-oriented. They had a more cultural definition of their trade and were not opportunists whose aim was to become pragmatically efficient in the world of business and military action. From the mid-1950s, things started to evolve due to a strong economic recovery and because French scientists had now caught up with the latest developments. The final break, however, occurred in France only when de Gaulle abandoned the Algerian war and elected for an autonomous nuclear deterrence system. By putting la stratégie de l'arsenal at the core of national development, de Gaulle significantly transformed French science, society, industry, and the military.
Un exemple d’apolitisme militant ?
le chemin de la « Vérité », et la contrainte dogmatique de ne contester ni récuser le système en place par un investissement « traditionnel » dans le champ politique. En d’autres termes, comment représenter une force de changement social en France
Blurring Marseille and Brightening Paris in Contested Processes of Boundary Making
depictions of urban boundaries. Nor has the sociological literature done much to illuminate the subtleties of how French rappers create boundaries in their music. This article aims to do just that by comparing how rap artists depict territory in Paris and
Catholicism, Social Science, and Democratic Planning
W. Brian Newsome
Over the course of his career, urban sociologist Paul-Henry Chombart de Lauwe evolved from a sociological interpreter of human needs into an advocate of the democratization of city planning. The major factors shaping this trajectory were his contacts with liberal Catholic associations, his education under ethnologist Marcel Mauss, his teaching experience at the École des cadres d'Uriage, and his own studies of working-class communities. Chombart de Lauwe took French urban sociology in novel directions and effected an important and underappreciated liberalization of city planning. Analysis of Chombart de Lauwe also challenges recent trends in the historiography of the Catholic Left.
“Screening France” in America takes several forms: American films that take place in France or use French people as their central characters, French films released in the US, and American remakes of French films. Since American remakes of French films usually become full-fledged American movies, and French films are often re-edited before being shown on American screens, all forms tend to display the same characteristics, often determined by the American cinematic taste for romance, a clear separation between good and evil, and a preferably happy ending that will gather all the loose ends. Though such characteristics may satisfy moviegoers’ instinctive longings for romance, happiness and clear-cut morals, this taste was reinforced and legitimized during the Production Code and studio system era (from the 1930s through the 1950s).
Old Paradigms, Current Tendencies, New Directions
Over the past three decades modern French history has undergone important changes, introducing new methodologies and taking up new questions. Two directions are especially promising. Since the “global turn” of the 1990s, many French historians have shifted their focus outside of the hexagon to examine France in a global and transnational context. Their work has explored the contradictions of France's democratic heritage and exclusionary practices evident in the history of colonialism, immigration, and ethno-racial exclusion. A second body of research has addressed the gender dimensions of French colonialism and has examined how colonialism deployed sexuality and sexual difference in maintaining colonial rule. Both strands of research have demonstrated how France's engagement beyond the hexagon has shaped French institutions and social life.