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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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Nicole Hudgins

The avalanche of ruin photography in the archives, albums, publications, and propaganda of World War I France challenges us to understand what functions such images fulfilled beyond their use as visual documentation. Did wartime images of ruin continue the European tradition of ruiniste art that went back hundreds of years? Or did their violence represent a break from the past? This article explores how ruin photography of the period fits into a larger aesthetic heritage in France, and how the depiction of ruins (religious, industrial, residential, etc.) on the French side of the Western Front provided means of expressing the shock and grief resulting from the unprecedented human losses of the war. Using official and commercial photographs of the period, the article resituates ruin photography as an aesthetic response to war, a symbol of human suffering, and a repository of rage.

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Elizabeth C. Macknight

In France the Falloux Law of 1850 set out the distinction between state-run public schools and écoles libres maintained by individuals or associations. This article argues that Catholic nobles’ historic property-based and charitable ties with rural communities underpinned their foundation of écoles libres. Drawing upon the private archives of noble families, the article shows how networking between aristocratic laity and religious orders facilitated the running of these schools. Nobles’ determination to guard a reputation for charitable patronage, especially in the locality of their landed estate, meant they were impelled to invest financially in écoles libres when doing so made no practical sense. From 1879 successive governments of the Third Republic introduced secularizing legislation that clashed with the aims of Catholic school founders. Even when taken to court for breaking republican laws, nobles, nuns, and monks remained passionately committed to upholding the culture of Christian faith within education.

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Valentina Mitkova

This article focuses on Bulgarian women writers’ activities, their reception, and their problematic existence in the context of the modernizing and emancipatory trends in Bulgarian society after the Liberation (1878–1944). The analysis is based on the concept of the (intellectual) hierarchy of genders and mechanisms of gender tutelage, traced in the specifics of women’s literary texts, their critical and public resonance, and the authors’ complicated relation with the Bulgarian literary canon. The question is topical, given the noticeable absence of women writers in the corpus of Bulgarian authors/ literary texts, thought and among those considered representative in terms of national identity and culture. The study is based on primary source materials such as works by Bulgarian women writers, the periodical press from the period, various archival materials, and scholarly publications relevant to the topic.

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Occupation, Race, and Empire

Maxence Van der Meersch's Invasion 14

W. Brian Newsome

In his 1935 novel Invasion 14, Maxence Van der Meersch painted a nuanced picture of the German invasion and occupation of northern France during World War I. Despite local controversy, Invasion 14 won national and international praise, losing the Prix Goncourt by a single vote. Though neglected in the wake of World War II, when the author's treatment of Franco-German relations between 1914 and 1918 ran headlong into evolving myths of widespread resistance between 1940 and 1944, Invasion 14 has garnered renewed attention as a window onto the occupation of World War I. Heretofore unappreciated, however, is Van der Meersch's use of colonial themes of race and empire. Based on research in the Archives Maxence Van der Meersch, this study explores the author's treatment of colonial motifs, demonstrating their centrality to the novel and the debate it generated.

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Yves Pourcher

Cet article revient sur le parcours d'un personnage politique important de l'entre-deux-guerres en France qui oscilla entre la gauche et la droite et finit serviteur du régime de Vichy. Après avoir recensé les principaux travaux portant sur Gaston Bergery, ce texte insiste sur son ambiguïté et sa complexité. Bourgeois, élu de gauche, directeur d'un journal, avocat d'un courant politique opposant le communisme et le fascisme tout en aimant la vie mondaine, Bergery perturbe les cadres classiques du politique. Pour tenter de le saisir, plusieurs archives sont revisitées: ses dossiers d'officier et d'ambassadeur, les documents de son procès. Les différents portraits qu'ont tracés de lui des contemporains sont aussi rappelés. Une enquête pour retrouver des témoins est menée. Toutes les informations recueillies soulignent les paradoxes et les contradictions d'un individu. Le cas Gaston Bergery s'avère être une entrée passionnante qui permet de relire une époque et un milieu.

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Yves Pourcher

This article retraces the career of an important political figure from the interwar period in France who oscillated between Left and Right and ended up as a lackey to the Vichy regime. After reviewing the principal work pertaining to Bergery, this article emphasizes his ambiguity and complexity. A bourgeois, a left-wing elected official, the director of a newspaper, advocating a political current opposing communism and fascism even as he pursued an active life as a social butterfly, Bergery disrupts classical political categories. To try to get a grip on him, several archives are revisited: his officer's and ambassador's dossiers, the documents of his trial. A search for eyewitnesses is conducted. All the information gathered underlines the paradoxes and contradictions of an individual. Gaston Bergery's case proves to be a fascinating entry point by which to re-read an era and a milieu.

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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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African Dawn

Keïta Fodéba and the Imagining of National Culture in Guinea

Andrew W. M. Smith

This article addresses the cultural activity of Keïta Fodéba, a popular musician, poet, dramatist, and ultimately prominent member of the independent Guinean government. His experiences during the 1950s refl ect emergent trends during this period of profound negotiation, in which the terms of the “postcolonial” world were established. Fodéba was a formative figure in the emergence of Guinean national culture but also played an important role in providing Guinea’s independence movement with a renewed impetus beyond Marxist ideology and demands for political equality. Using archival material that reveals French metropolitan fears about his activities, one gains insight into the networks of anticolonial activism with which he engaged. Following Fodéba, from his triumph on Broadway to his death at Camp Boiro, gives new perspectives on his challenging work and off ers greater insight into the transfers and negotiations between metropole, colony, and beyond that characterized the decolonization process.

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Jonathan Caouette and Laurence Hegarty

Jonathan Caouette suggested that we meet at a coffee shop opposite the American Museum of the Moving Image in New York. For someone who is said to have invented a genre of cinema by trawling through his own twenty-year archive of home-movies, sound-tapes, and sundry snippets of memorabilia, it seemed like a good choice. From watching Tarnation one senses Caouette is as much a curator of collections as he is a film director. Tarnation tracks the developmental struggle of the young Caouette, especially as he tries to understand and orient himself to his mentally disturbed mother. Although the final cut does not necessarily represent the final word (there is a great deal more footage than was used in the release print) or a single voice, it does stand as an adult attempt to collate, and edit, the whole chaotic mess of his childhood experience.