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Etty Terem

Over the past two decades, historical studies of France's colonies in the Maghrib have deepened our knowledge of the meaning of colonialism and its myriad legacies in the colonies and metropole. By employing new methodologies, adopting new

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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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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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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.

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Alice L. Conklin

Post-Colonial Cultures in France, Alec G. Hargreaves and Mark McKinney, eds. (London: Routledge, 1997)

Jean-Loup Amselle, Vers un multiculturalisme français, l’empire de la coutume (Paris: Aubier, 1996)

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The Iraq Crisis and France

Heaven-Sent Opportunity or Problem from Hell?

Charles Cogan

In early 2003, in the midst of the debates in the United Nations over what to do about Iraq, but before the French definitively threatened to use their veto, Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a clear though implied reference to France, remarked that, “with some of our friends, we have been in marriage counseling for 225 years.” The secretary did not say which partner was which in the marriage.

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Saving France's "lost Boys "

Vichy and the Reform of Juvenile Justice in France

Laura Lee Downs

In 1944, Léo Joannon's now-forgotten film Le Carrefour des enfants perdus opened in cinemas across France. The film (which starts in August 1940) recounts the struggle of impassioned journalist Jean Victor and a small group of friends to found a new kind of reform school without locks on the doors or bars on the windows, a vocational school for the professional training of delinquent youth whose methods were to be based on forging bonds of trust with the young offenders, rather than on their simple repression. Victor and his friends had all experienced firsthand the terrible bagnes d'enfants (children's penal colonies) of the Third Republic's pitiless juvenile justice system in their youth, and the story of the Carrefour (as their school was named) turns on the dedicated faith of these men in the abilities of children, even those deemed "guilty" in juvenile courts, to remake their own lives along healthier lines. Over the course of the film, the adventures of the Carrefour's 400 "enfants perdus" unfold inside an unexpected blend of progressive pedagogy (confidence in the children) and Vichy's fascistic elevation of the chef (organization of the school in hierarchically-ordered teams, run by older street toughs who are converted from caïdisme to the purer, if no less masculinist, ideology of the chef).

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The Moral Rearmament of France

Pierre Nora, Memory, and the Crises of Republicanism

Ben Mercer

The article traces the transformation of the idea of memory in the writings of Pierre Nora. His multi-volume Les Lieux de mémoire is read as a response to historiographical and historical crises of the 1970s, an attempt to write the history of France in which memory served as the new basis of national unity. However, the new national synthesis of memory that emerged merely resembled a liberal republicanism, whose enemies were variously immigrants, multiculturalists, neo-nationalists, dissenters from the anti-totalitarian consensus, or anyone who emphasized Vichy or France's colonial past. Ultimately, memory proved no more capable of dealing with the troublesome aspects of historical narrative or memory than traditional history.