In the spring of 2000, the Financial Times eagerly predicted that the world would be piloted by a new global generation of managers who, having been educated at business schools, share similar ideas and values.1 To this generation belong managers in start-up companies that provide goods and services online. These e-managers work with and on the Internet, which reaches worldwide instantly and redefines our concepts of time and place. Since emanagers have the whole world as their “playground,” they are likely to replace traditional nation-based feelings of belonging with new values and identities. French magazines went even further than the Financial Times, stating that since e-managers speak English and have adopted the American way of doing business, they would eventually Americanize French society.2 Or, rather, e-managers would turn France into a society that mirrored the stereotypes of American society that have been prevalent in France.
A Generation in the Making
Frédéric Martel, The Pink and the Black: Homosexuals in France since 1968, trans. Jane Marie Todd (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999); Le Rose et le noir: les homosexuels en France depuis 1968, 2nd edition, revised and enlarged (Paris: Seuil, 2000).
Florence Tamagne, Histoire de l’homosexualité en Europe: Berlin, Londres, Paris 1919-1939 (Paris: Seuil, 2000).
Carolyn J. Dean, The Frail Social Body: Pornography, Homosexuality, and Other Fantasies in Interwar France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).
Daniel Borrillo, Eric Fassin, and Marcela Iacub, eds., Au-delà du PaCS: l’expertise familiale à l’épreuve de l’homosexualité, (Paris: Presses Universitaire de France, 1999).
Louis-Georges Tin and Geneviève Pastre, eds., Homosexualités: expression/répression, (Paris: Stock, 2000).
What is anthropology in France about, what is its image, its impact? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Finding answers to these questions would require a whole book. However, in a more modest way, I would like to make a number of observations related to the recent history of the discipline – history that, as we shall see, is inseparable from the general socio-political context and the place that the discipline occupies today in the French intellectual landscape.
Perspectives on a Protean Concept
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.
Why do the French appear as incorrigible anti-Americans? Why is France singled out as a bastion of systematic opposition to US policies? Anti-Americanism can be defined as an unfavorable predisposition towards the United States, which leads individuals to interpret American actions through pre-existing views and negative stereotypes, irrespectively of the facts. It is based on a belief that there is something fundamentally wrong at the essence of what is America. This unfavorable predisposition manifests itself in beliefs, attitudes and rhetoric, which may or may not affect political behavior. Is France, according to this definition, anti-American? It is difficult in practice to distinguish between genuine anti-Americanism (disposition) and genuine criticism of the United States (opinion). It is partly because of this definitional ambiguity that France appears more anti-American than its European partners. While it is not clear that the French have a stronger negative predisposition against the US, they do have stronger opinions about America for at least three main reasons: the deep reservoir of anti-American arguments accumulated over the centuries; the simultaneous coexistence of a variety of types of anti-Americanism; and the costless ways in which anti-Americanism has been used for political benefit. This article explores each of these three features in turn, before discussing briefly the consequences of French anti-Americanism on world politics.
The Queer Cartography of French Gay Men's Geo-social Media Use
Dominique Pierre Batiste
Why do gay men utilise geo-social media applications such as Grindr and Scruff? Social media scholarship describes technological mediations and changes to social space and communities; however, there are theoretical gaps concerning what geo-social technology means for gay men. I suggest that gay men's ability to see other gay men, via geo-social media, reveals the queer cartography of any geographical location. This re-mapping of social space proves the public sphere less heteronormative than purported, cultivates community between gay men who may initiate face-to-face contact utilising geo-locative technology, and allows gay men to interact with one another outside of specifically gay spaces. This research is based in Toulouse, France, and adds to scholarship concerning French gay men's resistance to heteronormativity. This research also holds global significance concerning subjugated communities' uses of geo-social technology in their resistance against dominant cultures.
Questions of Agency and Self-deception as Refracted through the Art of Living with Spirits
The story of a young man from the Western Indian Ocean island of Mayotte who was prevented from a career in the French army by an illness sent by a spirit who possesses his mother inspires reﬂection on the nature of agency. I suggest that spirit possession and the ill- nesses it produces are intrinsically ironic. The prevalence of irony implies not that we should disregard agency but that perhaps we should not take it too literally.
Toward an Explanation of Inconsistencies between Framing and Policies
Henri Bergeron, Patrick Castel, and Abigail C. Saguy
The French news media has framed “obesity” largely as a product of corporate greed and social inequality. Yet, France has—like other nations including the United States—adopted policies that focus on changing individual-level behavior. This article identifies several factors—including food industry lobbying, the Ministry of Agriculture’s rivalry with the Ministry of Health and alliance with the food industry, and competition with other policy goals—that favored the development of individual-level policy approaches to obesity in France at the expense of social-structural ones. This case points to the need to more systematically document inconsistencies and consistencies between social problem framing and policies. It also shows that national culture is multivalent and internally contradictory, fueling political and social struggles over which version of national culture will prevail at any given moment.
Catholics and republican socialists were already on opposing sides of the culture war that divided France at the end of the nineteenth century. A second and deeper conflict, however, complicated their relationship. The once uneasy rapport between
“French studies” were much easier to do thirty years ago when French Politics, Culture & Society was founded. France then seemed, and largely was, synonymous with Paris, which appeared knowable. It also seemed possible to scan French intellectual and cultural life across disciplines, in part because the Parisian French media loudly announced where the action was. French politics also looked distinctive internationally and French leaders projected themselves around the planet. It was understandable that FPCS would have holistic goals and attempt to cover as much of what was happening as possible while eagerly embracing inter-disciplinarity. Since then there have been massive changes, however. France's intellectual, cultural, social, and political biographies have been decentralized, Europeanized, globalized, and internationalized. French academic disciplines, like those in other countries, have been subdivided, often in difficult-to-follow ways. France itself, in the 1980s a formerly colonial great power that still spoke stridently in world affairs, is now a medium-sized member of the EU under very great economic and social strains. It is vastly harder to do holistic “French studies” now. All the more reason to try!