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Black and White on the Silver Screen

Views of Interracial Romance in French Films and Reviews since the 1980s

Jon Cowans

This article explores French attitudes about race during and after the years of the National Front's breakthrough by looking at French films and film reviews on the topic of interracial couples. In a country in which antiracists have been reluctant to legitimize the concept of race by talking about it, but in which the far Right has made gains by proclaiming its own views on race, French film-makers in the 1980s and after broached the topic in numerous films, but they often did so in ways that avoided controversy or serious reflection on current French racism. French critics of both French and American films featuring interracial couples also sidestepped the most explosive issues, revealing a disinclination to discuss a troubling and divisive concept, but also a persistent belief that racism remained an American problem and obsession.

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Regulating Multiplexes

The French State between Corporatism and Globalization

Graeme Hayes

Since the mid-1980s, the growth of multiplex cinemas has transformed the social, industrial, and spatial logics of film exhibition across western Europe. Pioneered in the United States, where they were developed in the mid-1970s as “destination anchors” in suburban retail centers, multiplexes first appeared in Europe in Belgium (as early as 1975), Sweden (1980), and the United Kingdom (1985). In France, multiplex development started comparatively late; a first wave of comprehensive theater modernization and rationalization, launched in the 1960s, had already created a distinctive national model of multiscreen complexes (such that one observer was moved to argue that, by the late 1980s, “without false modesty, France’s film theaters are the most attractive in Europe and among the best in the world”).

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Between Europe and a Hard Place

French Financial Diplomacy from 1995 to 2002

Daphne Josselin

In the mid-1990s, a series of financial crises placed international financial stability and North-South dialogue once again very firmly on the agenda of economic diplomacy. These had long been pet topics for the French: back in the 1960s, President Charles de Gaulle had famously clamoured for the establishment of a new monetary order; the summitry set up, on French initiative, in 1975, had been largely focused on exchange rate stability and North-South relations; in the 1980s, President Mitterrand had made repeated appeals for a “new Bretton Woods.” One could therefore expect the French to contribute actively to debates on how best to reform the international financial architecture.

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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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Decolonizing Situations

The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Colonial Studies, 1951-2001

Frederick Cooper

When Georges Balandier published “The Colonial Situation” in 1951, colonial empires were at the heart of profound debates and struggles. By the 1970s, colonialism had been banished from the realm of legitimate forms of political organization. What remained “colonial” in world politics passed itself off as something else. The burst of scholarship on colonial societies in the 1980s and 1990s thus appears paradoxical, and so too does the lack of response and follow-up to Balandier’s brilliantly incisive article in the two decades after its appearance.

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La course au centre

Policy Convergence and Partisanship in France, 1981-2002

Sally Marthaler

Policy convergence between the political parties and the perception among voters that there is little to choose between left and right may be factors in the declining levels of partisanship observed in many advanced industrial democracies, including France, where these conditions emerged in the 1980s. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data, this article analyzes changes in the actual and perceived level of convergence between the mainstream parties in France from 1981 to 2002. It finds evidence of increasing policy convergence over the period as a result of a combination of endogenous and exogenous factors. It concludes that left-right ideological labels are still important to voters, even though they too have moved to the center, and that many of them want to see a clear dividing-line between the parties. The blurring of the boundaries between left and right and the “reversibility” of the mainstream parties has also enhanced the appeal of alternative and extremist parties.

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Jonathan Laurence

Politicians and civil servants charged with the task of helping a “French Islam” emerge in late twentieth-century France faced a vast, transnational network of more than 1600 Muslim associations and mosques in dozens of French towns and cities. During the colonial era, Islam in French Algeria was exempted from the 1905 separation of church and state, and no one at the time imagined that one century later, 5 million Muslims would inhabit metropolitan France. The legacy of French and later, Algerian, state oversight of the Muslim religion is still felt within Islam in France today. In the post-colonial period up until the 1980s, French authorities relied on immigrants’ home governments for the accommodation of religious requirements, from the salaries of imams to the creation of prayer spaces.

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Comparing Risk Regulation in the United States and France

Asbestos, Aids and Genetically Modified Agriculture

David Vogel and Jabril Bensedrine

This article compares three health, safety and environmental policies in France and the United States: the regulation of asbestos, the regulatory impact of the health crisis associated with AIDS, and the regulation of genetically modified foods and seeds. These cases illustrate the evolution of regulatory policies and politics in France and the United States over the last three decades. In brief, risk management policies have become less politicized and risk averse in the United States, while they have become more politicized and risk averse in France. In many respects, regulatory politics and policies in France during the 1990s resemble those of the United States from the 1960s and through the late 1980s.

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Herrick Chapman

With FPCS embarking on its fourth decade of publishing work on the study of France and the francophone world, the journal invited scholars in several disciplines to write short essays on where they thought the field of French Studies should head in the future. This essay introduces the resulting dossier on “French Studies and Its Futures.” It situates the project in the current context in which the field is thriving intellectually but struggling with menacing institutional pressures. It goes on to describe the particular formulation of French Studies that the journal came to represent in its early years in the 1980s, how it evolved since, and what that experience suggests about how scholars can respond creatively to the challenges and opportunities the future may hold for the field.

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Soixante ans après

pour un état des lieux de mémoire

Nathan Bracher

In reviewing various commemorations that highlighted the year 2005 in France, this article points out the major evolutions of memory visible primarily in the press and media coverage of these events. If public memory remains as highly charged and polemical as it was in the 1980s and 1990s, attention is clearly turning away from the Occupation and Vichy to focus more on Europe and on France's colonial past, as we see not only in the ceremonies celebrating the "liberation" of Auschwitz, the Allied victory over Nazi Germany, and the dedication of the Mémorial de la Shoah, but also in the many articles devoted to Russian and Eastern European experiences of the war, as well as to the bloody postwar repressions of colonial uprisings in Algeria and Madagascar. Now that racial and ethnic tensions are exacerbating an increasingly fragmented public memory, the work of history is more urgent than ever.