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Adventurers and Agents Provocateurs

A German Woman Traveling through French West Africa in the Shadow of War

Jennifer Anne Boittin

When Dr. Rosie Gräfenberg traveled to French West Africa in 1929, she set the French security and intelligence service on high alert. Rumors preceding her arrival suggested she might be a Russian agent, a communist agitator, and a German spy, among other things. She, however, presented herself as a German journalist. This article contrasts Gräfenberg's autobiography and newspaper articles with French police archives to consider why the stories surrounding her life diverged so greatly and what variations in detail, fact, and tone reveal about how Franco-German relations influenced considerations of race, nation, gender, and sexuality in the French Empire. In part because her trajectory was so outlandish, Gräfenberg's writings help us to consider the influence of World War I upon interwar colonial politics, procedures, and presumptions.

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Objects of Dispute

Planning, Discourse, and State Power in Post-War France

Edward Welch

During the presidency of Charles de Gaulle (1958–1969), state-led spatial planning transformed the Paris region. The aim of the Schéma directeur d’aménagement et d’urbanisme de la région de Paris (1965) was to improve urban life through modernization; but its scale and ambition meant that it came to represent the hubris of state power. This article examines the role of discourse and narrative in state planning. It explores the role of planning discourses in the production of space, as well as stories told about planning by the planners and those who live with their actions. It investigates perceptions of power in post-war France, placing the Gaullist view of the state as a force for good in the context of contemporary critiques of state power. Addressing the relationship between power, resistance, and critique, it sees the environments produced by spatial planning as complex objects of dispute, enmeshed in conflicting hopes and visions of the future.

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“It Is Better to Die”

Abbé Rousseau and the Meanings of Suicide

Jeffrey Merrick

As he explained in his suicide note, abbé Jean-Baptiste Rousseau could not marry and would not seduce the young woman he loved, so he shot himself on 18 May 1784. Witnesses deposed by the police claimed that he was not in his right mind and therefore not legally responsible for his actions, but the authors of contemporary reports about the case accepted his lucid account of his dilemma. Nouvellistes and journalists provided multiple versions of his note and multiple judgments of his motives, options, and actions. This analysis of the sources from 1784 and the following years shows how they reworked the story of Rousseau’s life and death against the background of larger issues. Changes in jurisprudence during the last decades of the ancien régime culminated in the decriminalization of suicide and other religious, moral, and sexual crimes in 1791. Debates about the causes and meanings of self-destruction continued, but in the press rather than the courts.

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Beyond the Myth of Lesbian Montmartre

The Case of Chez Palmyre

Leslie Choquette

This article focuses on one emblematic figure of lesbian Montmartre during the belle époque, the notorious restaurateur Palmyre. After managing the lesbian brasserie La Souris in the 1890s, Palmyre opened her own establishment, Palmyr’s Bar, opposite the Moulin Rouge in the early twentieth century. Palmyre’s restaurants, the second of which catered to gays as well as lesbians, feature in police, judicial, and fiscal archives as well as the visual arts, journalism, fiction, and memoir. Palmyre’s story, besides conveying a slice of lesbian life in Montmartre during the belle époque, illustrates the importance of lesbian and gay entrepreneurs and entertainers to the making of “Gay Paree.” Establishments like Palmyre’s, no less than the bohemian cabarets and giant music halls, contributed to the development of commercialized mass culture in the city, while also providing community space and artistic outlets for Paris’s gays and lesbians.

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Theophilus Kwek

In February 2017, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a damning report of human rights abuses perpetrated against the Rohingya. The report was based on interviews with Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar since 9 October 2016, with research continuing up to January 2017. Many recounted personal experiences of violence and physical, life-threatening harm. The report received some attention among humanitarian agencies (many of which have been banned from accessing Rakhine state) but was largely ignored by the international press. Headlines that week focused on the Trump administration’s attempts to defend its travel ban. This poem contains fragments and modifications of the report. It is not an attempt to supplant the voices of those at the heart of the report, but—by stripping down its language—an attempt to make (and mend) our ways of reading (and hearing) their stories.

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Women “Making History” in Museums

The Case of Female Curators in Postwar New Zealand

Bronwyn Labrum

This article examines three remarkable New Zealand women, Nancy Adams, Rose Reynolds, and Edna Stephenson, who, as honorary or part-time staff, each began the systematic collecting and display of colonial history at museums in Wellington, Christchurch, and Auckland in the 1950s. Noting how little research has been published on women workers in museums, let alone women history curators, it offers an important correction to the usual story of the heroic, scientific endeavors of male museum directors and managers. Focusing largely on female interests in everyday domestic life, textiles, and clothing, their activities conformed to contemporary gendered norms and mirrored women’s contemporary household role with its emphasis on housekeeping, domestic interiors, and shopping and clothing. This article lays bare the often ad hoc process of “making history” in these museums, and adds complexity and a greater fluidity to the interpretations we have to date of women workers in postwar museums.

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Putting the Grail Back into Girl Power

How a Girl Saved Camelot, and why it Matters

Katherine Allocco

The Warner Brothers animated film Quest for Camelot (1998), which is set in the age of King Arthur, tells the story of Kayley, a brave, resolute, intelligent and peaceful teenage girl who rescues Camelot and is rewarded for her heroism by being made a Knight of the Round Table. The film presents viewers with a feminist hero, but does so without apology or self-congratulation. Kayley carves out a new space for girl heroes in mainstream film production in which a girl can become a hero without being weighed down by expectations of stereotyped gendered behavior and without virilizing herself by narrowly defining a hero as an aggressive warrior. She escapes the sexual pressures that complicate Buffy the Vampire Slayer's life and the submissive acceptance of the violent warrior ethic that defines Mulan. Kayley is an unusual girl hero who celebrates Girl Power as an uncommonly innocent and positive character.

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Made in Nigeria

Duress and Upwardly Mobile Youth in the Biography of a Young Entrepreneur in Enugu

Inge Ligtvoet

What does duress mean in the lives of those who are not by definition understood to be living in duress—namely, upwardly mobile young people in a relatively peaceful city in southeast Nigeria? In this article, I try to answer that question by presenting the life story of Azu, a young designer in Enugu who has made his way out of a poverty-stricken background through a relatively successful entrepreneurship. His biography, based on interviews and observations, and partially through a shared experience of constraint in Nigeria, serves as an example of duress in the lives of those who—by family, educational background, or career success—are considered “well-off” compared with most youths in the country. I argue that duress for these youths is informed by social expectations due to their acquired status as much as by the sociopolitical uncertainties that they have been confronted with throughout their lives.

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Pollyanna Ruiz

In The Practice of Everyday Life, de Certeau likens himself to a Solar Eye reading the city spread out like a text below. He compares this all-seeing position to the enmeshed position of those whose intermingled footsteps pass through the city streets, writing stories that deliberately elude legibility. These two ways of experiencing the city offer a theoretical frame through which I will explore both the administration of protest spaces, and protesters’ ongoing attempts to subvert and evade those controls. In doing so, this contribution will examine the way in which the police practice of kettling depends upon the police’s ability to draw a series of distinctions between ‘good’ protesters who comply with state demands, and ‘bad’ protesters who err from official routes. It will go onto to explore the way in which the practice of maptivism impacts upon protesters’ ability to occupy city spaces and resist the totalizing administrations of the state.

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Women and Gender in Short Stories by Rabindranath Tagore

An Anthropological Introspection on Kinship and Family

Nandini Sen

This article examines female protagonists in Rabindranath Tagore’s stories and novellas – specifically Charu (A Broken Nest, 1901), Mrinal (The Wife’s Letter, 1914), Kamala (Musalmani, 1941), Anila (House Number 1, 1917), Chandara (Punishment, 1893) and Boshtomi (Devotee, 1916) – from a social anthropological viewpoint, focusing on gender and time-based kinship relations. Here, kinship is defined as an extension of familial relationships to the community (common ethnic-social life, locality and religion) in such a way as to achieve progressively higher levels of social integration and extensive social networks through marriage alliances and lines of descent. Studying how the characters placed the universality of family and kinship structures into question, I argue that parameters of kinship organisation need to be redefined, with plurality and difference as the basis of inquiry rather than universality.