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Pierre Goldman

From Souvenirs obscurs to Lieu de mémoire

Donald Reid

Pierre Goldman was born to Jewish resisters in France in June 1944 and lived with the inability to match his parents' achievements during the war. Although a secondary figure in soixante-huitard movements, his trials for murder in the early 1970s made him a central figure in post-soixante-huitard activists' reflections on their situation. This essay examines Goldman's sui generis efforts to establish his identity as a resister and a Jew, his central role in his generation's attempts to define their relationship to the society they wished to change, and his place in the succeeding generation's efforts to differentiate themselves from the generation of their parents, Goldman's generation.

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Donald Reid

Le Nouvel Esprit du capitalisme is a socio-cultural response to the neoliberal explanation of the successes and failures of capitalism in France during the last three decades in terms of individual rational actors and markets. Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello draw their inspiration from critical readings of sociologists who interpreted earlier incarnations of capitalism, including Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim.

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To Bear Witness After the Era of the Witness

The Projects of Christophe Boltanski and Ivan Jablonka

Donald Reid

Abstract

This essay examines how two French individuals in the third generation of Holocaust victims/survivors, Christophe Boltanski and Ivan Jablonka, research and present their grandparents and how they challenge contemporary memory culture. Their works differ in their ambitions and the strategies used to achieve them, but both Boltanski and Jablonka take the most disrespected of historical genres, the history of the author’s family, and reveal its potential in an arena where the duty to remember what was done to Jews as a group can obscure the complex individuals who were victims. These forgotten selves and what they reveal about the societies in which they lived are the subject of Boltanski’s and Jablonka’s work. Particular attention is devoted to the Communist parties in Poland and France and the relations of their grandparents to them.

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Donald Reid

With roots in the transformation of France during and after the Algerian War, the opposition by the farmers of Larzac and their largely urban allies throughout France to the expansion of a military camp into their lands is an emblematic event in the broad 1968 stretching a decade on either side of that year. It was particularly significant at Larzac, where a community of resistance remains today. Drawing on progressive Catholic thought and a new representation of the paysan, the conflict resonated in a France negotiating the terrain of a post-colonial era, a new relationship between the rural and the urban, and the feminist expectations of many supporters.

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Donald Reid

Faced with a troubled past, national collectivities can negotiate identities through iconic figures. Prescient hero Charles de Gaulle and later Resistance martyr Jean Moulin played this role in France in the decades after World War II. More recently, other individuals from the same generation have come to the fore as exemplary actors through whom the French enact reconciliation with their nation’s wartime history. Marc Bloch, a Jew executed for his Resistance activity, has become a figure who allows French republicans to work their way out of what Henry Rousso terms the obsessive phase of the Vichy Syndrome.

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Available in Hell

Germaine Tillion's Operetta of Resistance at Ravensbrück

Donald Reid

Pierre Vidal-Naquet called the three studies resister Germaine Tillion had published in 1946, 1973, and 1988, on the concentration camp to which she had been sent, her “three Ravensbrücks.”4 Although resistance is important in each, these works focus primarily on the relation of exploitation to extermination in the camps. There is, however, a first, or perhaps a fourth, “Ravensbrück,” which is neither a memoir nor a history like the other three. In it, the state of resistance in which Tillion lived her deportation comes to the fore. Inspired by Jacques Offenbach’s L’Orphée aux Enfers, Tillion wrote Le Verfügbar aux Enfers in late 1944 at Ravenbrück, after having spent a year incarcerated there. Like David Rousset’s frequent reference to Père Ubu in L’Univers concentrationnaire (1946), his essay on Buchenwald, Tillion’s operetta reminds us that the genres we usually call on to present the horrific in the normal world may be lacking when the horrific is the norm.