Arguing that the resistance in France during the Second World War was always transnational in important ways, this piece identifies some of the recent scholarship that has expanded both the temporal and geographic parameters of the French Resistance. It introduces some of the key themes of this collection of articles and underscores the important contributions made by the participating authors. As these articles reveal, we can find sites of transnational resistance by looking at the relationship between the Allies and the resistance, the role that non-French denizens played in the resistance, the politics of cultural resistance, and the circulation of downed Anglo-American aircrews in Europe.
If the Resistance as a whole is part of French identity, the different types of resistance, among them that of women, do not benefit from the same status. On the contrary, official commemorations of the Resistance are based upon two implicit statements: that the Resistance and the nation are somewhat equivalent— the Resistance being viewed as the uprising of the whole nation—and that to differentiate among the resisters would go against the very principles of the Resistance, its universalism, its refusal to make any distinction in race or origin. The assimilationism that is part of the ideology of the French Republic hinders the recognition of particularisms, whether regional, cultural or gendered.
Remembering the Occupation in Simone de Beauvoir's Les Mandarins
Susan Rubin Suleiman
Critics generally agree that Beauvoir's novel Les Mandarins, which won the Prix Goncourt in 1954, is an important work of historical fiction, chronicling the lives and loves of left-wing intellectuals in Paris during the years following World War II. In this essay I argue that Les Mandarins is as much about the war as about the postwar, and that its meaning for contemporary readers was deeply linked (even if not in a fully recognized way) to memories of the troubled period of the Occupation. I develop the concept of “ambivalent memory,” as it refers in particular to two of the most problematic aspects of that period: the role of the Vichy government in the persecution of Jews, and the ambiguities and disagreements concerning the Resistance. More generally, the novel raises questions about memory and its inevitable obverse, forgetting. It is from our own contemporary perspective, heavily informed by concerns over memory and World War II, that this aspect of Les Mandarins comes to the fore.
Does it Count as a Rescue When a Jew Saves a Fellow Jew?
This article explores the relief, rescue, and resistance activities of Rabbi Zalman Schneerson and the Association des Israélites pratiquants (AIP) in Vichy France. The rabbi's prior experience in clandestine activities and spiritual resistance in the Soviet Union served as a training ground for the resistance work he eventually undertook in Vichy. Schneerson and his family were able to shelter, feed, and educate more than eighty children during the war, save at least fifty-three children from deportation, and help smuggle at least thirty-five children to Switzerland. That Schneerson and his family survived and rescued Jewish refugees in Vichy France, a regime that willingly deported nearly half of its foreign Jewish population to death camps, demonstrates that he and his wife Sara were not novices in clandestine work. Indeed, their staunch resistance to Vichy antisemitism was largely a legacy of Hasidic resistance to antisemitism under Soviet rule.
Unanimously celebrated as an authentic representation of French railroad workers' resistance against the Germans during the Occupation, René Clément's La Bataille du rail (The Battle of the Rails, 1945) was a valuable piece of ideological capital in the wake of France's liberation. Through a close reading of the film's production and reception, this article shows that the film's heroic blueprinting of the Resistance was the result of mediation between two opposing points of view: that of the Marxist Left, which sought to portray the Resistance as belonging to the working class, and that of the Gaullists, who were intent on promoting the myth of an idealized "True France" without class or ideological divisions and united in its opposition to the Germans.
Globalizing the History of French Decolonization
Jessica Lynne Pearson
compelling global approach to the history of the French resistance, see French Politics, Culture & Society 37, 1, special issue on “The French Resistance in Transnational Perspective” (2019), guest editor: Valerie Deacon. 4 A few recent exceptions to the
Jennifer Pitts, William Poulin-Deltour, and Marion Fourcade-Gourinchas
Jennifer Pitts De Tocqueville by Cheryl B. Welch
William Poulin-Deltour French Resistance: The French-American Culture Wars by Jean-Philippe Mathy
Marion Fourcade-Gourinchas Rethinking Comparative Cultural Sociology: Repertoires of Evaluation in France and the United States Edited by Michèle Lamont and Laurent Thévenot
Thomas R. Flynn and Steven Hendley
Ronald Aronson and Adrian van den Hoven (eds.), We Have Only This Life To Live: The Selected Essays of Jean-Paul Sartre, 1939-1975 Review by Thomas R. Flynn
Sonia Kruks, Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity Review by Steven Hendley
Sean B. Carroll, Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize Review by Damon Boria
In December 1996, the European Union gave its authorization to sell transgenic corn for consumption and cultivation in Europe. Some EU memberstates, notably Austria and Italy, refused to allow any imports of genetically modified organisms (“GMOs” or “OGM” in French). Resistance of that sort was unexpected from France. In Europe, France was originally the country most interested in advancing research and applications in the area of agricultural biotechnology. Before GMOs became a matter of public controversy, France led Europe in deliberate release trials.
Remembering and Forgetting World War II Indochina
M. Kathryn Edwards and Eric Jennings
This article analyzes the complex memorial stakes of the events that unfolded in French Indochina during World War II. It first considers the wartime years and analyzes the French frameworks for understanding the Vichy period and the Japanese takeover. It then delves into two memorial trends: the rehabilitation of the French resistance in Indochina and the commemoration of victims of the 9 March 1945 Japanese coup. These trends have produced a double elision: the focus on resistance to the Japanese has displaced previous allegiance to Vichy, and the emphasis on the victimhood of the French settler community has overshadowed responsibility for colonial violence.