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Parallel Lives

Remembering the PCF and CGT

George Ross

Philippe Herzog and Jean-Louis Moynot were members of the top leaderships of the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) and the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), respectively. Each participated in and lived through the dramatic years from the 1960s through the 1980s when both organizations first supported Union de la Gauche and then turned away from it, eventually precipitating both into decline in ways that would transform eventually the French political and trade union left. The strategic shifts underlying these deep and significant changes were traumatic for those who lived through them. Herzog and Moynot have recently published memoirs detailing their experiences of this period and their political lives thereafter. Both books, in different ways, give us new and important understandings of what happened during a critical moment of change in French politics.

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Sophie Meunier

The most common perception of France found these days in the American media is that of an arrogant country, whose international gesticulations are the last hurrah masking its inevitable decline into oblivion. The French have not yet come to terms with their lengthy collapse, which started with the devastation of World War I, continued with the humiliation of their defeat in 1940 and was furthered by the loss of their colonial empire. This would explain their support, still to this day, for a Gaullist policy made up of power incantations, in contrast to real power—or lack thereof. Of course, this characterization is meant as much as an insult as an objective statement of fact. What few of these American commentators comprehend, however, is how much this image of a nation blinded by self-confidence is erroneous. On the contrary, the French have excelled at self-flagellation for a long time, rightly or wrongly. Whether one calls it “malaise” or decline, French commentators are the first to confess that France is free-falling—whether vis-à-vis the US, its European partners, or its own aspirations.

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In Search of Lost Radicalism

The Hot Autumn of 2010 and the Transformation of Labor Contention in France

Marcos Ancelovici

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.

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Worker Reactions to Crisis

Explaining 'Bossnappings'

Nick Parsons

In France in 2009-10, several managers announcing redundancies were held hostage by workers. Although the global economic crisis and an attendant rise in unemployment may provide a catalyst for "bossnappings," the real explanations for the phenomenon have to be found partly in the institutional make up of French industrial relations that have resulted in weak, divided unions and weak and conflictual collective bargaining mechanisms. However, such institutional factors cannot provide the whole explanation. Ideas also matter, and these underlying structural weaknesses have been unable to contain radical outbursts of anger when allied to pre-existing concerns over globalization—which appeared to be vindicated by the current economic crisis—, the reactions of the government to crisis, and the incapacity of unions or the state to respond to it.

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Jeffrey Jackson The Place de la Bastille: The Story of a Quartier by Keith Reader

Carol E. Harrison Heroes and Legends of Fin-de-siècle France: Gender, Politics, and National Identity by Venita Datta

Marie-Emmanuelle Chessel Women and Mass Consumer Society in Postwar France by Rebecca Pulju

Mark Ingram Trade of the Tricks: Inside the Magician's Craft by Graham Jones

Pepper D. Culpepper Contingent Capital: Short-Term Investors and the Evolution of Corporate Governance in France and Germany by Michel Goyer

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France-Allemagne

Noces de diamant ou chronique d'un divorce annoncé?

Robert Toulemon

The proposal of 9 May 1950 by Robert Schuman to put coal and steel industries under a common High Authority was a signal of reconciliation with the new Germany. General de Gaulle, in spite of his opposition to the federal perspective, decided to implement the Treaty of Rome (1957) establishing a common market between France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The French presidents and the German chancellors maintained a strong relationship despite differences of views about British application, NATO, trade and monetary policies, institutional development and, more recently, the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet empire.

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L'Express et l'espace après Apollo 11

La dramaturgie du récit journalistique à l'épreuve du spatial

Jérôme Lamy

This article examines the treatment of outer space in the French weekly magazine L'Express from 1969 to 2009. After the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, space was essentially analyzed from the perspective of geopolitics: International tensions, the Cold War, and the emergence of an integrated Europe served as prisms through which the subject of outer space was explored. After the Challenger crash in 1986, thinking about space took on a more commercial orientation; business, trade, and competition became a powerful frame of reference. At the same time, ecological concerns emerged to reinforce a negative view of space exploration. Space debris and the decline of utopian expectations became recurring themes. This cultural history of disenchantment over space reflected both a scaling back of Promethean ambitions and the assimilation of space into everyday life.

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Is Integration a Zero-Sum Game?

Negotiating Space for Ethnic Minorities in Europe

Amanda Garrett

Jennifer Fredette, Constructing Muslims in France: Discourse, Public Identity, and the Politics of Citizenship (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2014).

Maxwell Rahsaan, Ethnic Minority Migrants in Britain and France: Integration Trade-Offs (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

This article reviews two books that address the inherently complicated puzzle of ethnic minority accommodation in Europe. These works recognize the pressing need to understand the parameters within which minority populations and states build relationships and delineate identities, and thus the process of minority inclusion. In doing so they contribute to interdisciplinary scholarship devoted to examining how host societies manage the real and perceived threats to social, economic, and political cohesion. But questions remain. How should we define the concept of successful integration and how must we measure it? What are the factors driving successful versus failed integration? How do these factors change over time and across national contexts?

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Slave Flight, Slave Torture, and the State

Nineteenth-Century French Guiana

Miranda Spieler

This article explores the relationship between law and violence against slaves in nineteenth-century French Guiana. Drawing on unpublished sources from the colonial archives, Spieler examines the linked problems of slave abuse and slave flight to understand the evolving character of the French imperial state in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. In the early nineteenth century, after the abolition of the slave trade, imperial administrators in Guiana contested the proprietary privileges of masters and lay claim to the right to punish slaves. During the 1820s and 1830s, slave testimony—especially the testimony of abused slaves (inside and outside the courtroom)—became unexpectedly central to this dispute between masters and administrators about the source of legitimate violence and the meaning of imperial sovereignty.

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Teresa Hoefert de Turégano

French efforts in lobbying for a “cultural exception” in world trade agreements have attracted much attention. Less noticed have been the long-standing French attempts to support the film production of individuals from around the world, for whom making films in their countries of origin is difficult for economic, political, and social reasons. One of France’s areas of predilection for such cinematographic support has been francophone sub-Saharan Africa, specifically countries that were once former colonies. Shortly after most African countries in the region became independent, France created the Ministry of Cooperation and Development to administer relations with the African states; an important part of French support consisted of helping develop cinematographic production.