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Charles Rearick

Nostalgia in its classic form—a longing for home—has commonly welled up among Parisians living far from their city. That kind of nostalgia famously afflicted soldiers called to battle, notably during the drawn-out “Great War.” It also struck civilian Parisians unable to return to their hometown during the Occupation. A more common and widespread form of Parisian nostalgia is the bittersweet remembrance of a time in the past, especially following a bout of charm-destroying changes or urbanist operations, such as those of the Second Empire and the Fifth Republic. Cultural memory has imbued one particular era with the greatest nostalgia: the so-called Belle Époque. More generally, Parisian nostalgia has focused on a memory of the disappearing petit peuple and a handful of picturesque sites, such as pre-1914 Montmartre and, in the late twentieth century, the old central Halles, Belleville, and the Rue de Lappe.

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Biographers of Paris

Cultural Approaches to the Modern City

Victoria E. Thompson

Hollis Clayson, Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life under Siege (1870-71) (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002).

Mary Gluck, Popular Bohemia: Modernism and Urban Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).

Patrice Higonnet, Paris: Capital of the World, translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002).

Alistair Horne, Seven Ages of Paris: Portrait of a City (London: Macmillan, 2002).

Colin Jones, Paris: The Biography of a City (New York: Viking, 2004).

Nicholas Papayanis, Planning Paris before Haussmann (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).

Pierre Pinon, Paris, biographie d’une capitale (Paris: Hazan, 1999).

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From Paris to Poland

A Postmortem of the Climate Change Negotiations

Tim Cadman, Klaus Radunsky, Andrea Simonelli and Tek Maraseni

This article tracks the intergovernmental negotiations aimed at combatting human-induced greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from COP21 and the creation of the Paris Agreement in 2015 to COP24 in Katowice, Poland in 2018. These conferences are explored in detail, focusing on the Paris Rulebook negotiations around how to implement market- and nonmarket-based approaches to mitigating climate change, as set out in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, and the tensions regarding the inclusion of negotiating text safeguarding human rights. A concluding section comments on the collapse of Article 6 discussions and the implications for climate justice and social quality for the Paris Agreement going forward.

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Commoning in New York City, Barcelona, and Paris

Notes and observations from the field

Ida Susser

This article analyzes the emergence of the squares movement—such as Occupy Wall Street in New York City, the 15 May in Barcelona, and Nuit Debout in Paris—as a new form of “commoning.” The argument is that this commoning, characterized by an

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Identifying ‘Terrorists’ in Paris

A Political Experiment with IBM Machines during the Algerian War

Neil MacMaster

The Paris police faced considerable problems in trying to identify migrant workers who, during the Algerian War, provided a support base for the Front de libération nationale. In order to overcome the failings of manual card-index systems (fichiers) the Préfecture of Police experimented in 1959-62 with IBM punch-card machines. The origin of these powerful identification techniques can be traced back to the inter-war statistical services headed by René Carmille. Although such methods were banned after the Liberation because of their repressive potential, they were discretely revived to track Algerians. Although the experiment proved successful, the proliferation of numerous decentralized fichiers continued to make the process of identifying wanted Algerians slow and cumbersome and this enabled FLN clandestine networks to survive intact to the end of the Algerian War. However, while rapidly superceded by true computers, the punch-card experiment was a precursor of contemporary, high-speed "Panoptican" systems and the computer driven" "révolution identitaire".

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Jean-Paul Sartre

Upon arriving in Paris, many Englishmen and Americans were surprised that we were not as thin as they had expected. They saw women wearing elegant dresses that appeared new and men in jackets that, from afar, still looked good; they rarely encountered that facial pallor, that physiological misery that is usually proof of starvation. Concern that is disappointed turns into rancor. I am afraid that they were a little annoyed with us because we didn’t conform completely to the pathetic image that they had previously formed of us. Perhaps some of them wondered in the depth of their heart if the occupation had been quite so terrible after all and if France shouldn’t consider the defeat as a lucky break that would allow her to regain its place as a great power without having deserved it through great sacrifices; perhaps they thought as did the Daily Express that, in comparison to the English, the French didn’t fare so badly during these four years.

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Brian Wemp

The Grands Magasins Dufayel, a huge department store built on the northern fringe of late nineteenth-century Paris, had an important cultural influence on the city's working class. In a neighborhood with few public spaces, it provided a consumer version of the public square. It encouraged workers to approach shopping as a social activity, just as the bourgeoisie did at the famous department stores in central Paris. Like the bourgeois stores, it helped transform consumption from a personal transaction between customer and merchant into an unmediated relationship between consumer and goods. Through advertising the store portrayed itself as a space where the working-class visitor could participate in new and exciting forms of entertainment and technology. Its unique instore cinema and exhibits of inventions like X-ray machines and the gramophone created a new kind of urban space that celebrated the close relationship between technology and consumer culture.

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Hygienic Promenades

The Montagnes Russes as Medical and Urban Artifacts

Sun-Young Park

Postrevolutionary Paris witnessed a brief flowering of commercial gardens, precursors to the modern-day amusement park, which cultivated nature, exercise, and health in an urbanizing context. Bridging the eighteenth-century jardin-spectacle and the Second Empire network of public parks, pleasure grounds such as the Grand Tivoli and the Beaujon garden offered a range of activities including gymnastic games, bicycling, and, most strikingly of all, exhilarating rides on early roller coasters known as montagnes russes. Situated on the periphery of a rapidly densifying city and abstracting natural forms for urban consumption, these rides integrated discourses of hygiene and recreation. Analyzing these short-lived curiosities from the vantage points of medical, cultural, and urban history, this article argues that the montagnes russes helped disseminate modern conceptions of health and gender in popular culture.

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Winnie Lem

This article explores the implications of a neo-liberal transition to political activism among immigrants with small businesses. It focuses specifically on Chinese migrants in Paris who generally pursue livelihoods based on petty capitalism and who eschewed the mobilizations in France in the fall of 2005 and spring of 2006. Drawing on Bourdieu's idea of habitus, the political and economic forces that influence the possibilities for contentiousness and compliance among different classes of French citizens are examined as they confront changes in citizenship regimes that accompany the transition to neo-liberalism. It is suggested that the ideologies of entrepreneurship and its practices are fostered by neo-liberal regimes as a means of integrating and creating model citizens, who accept rather than challenge the prevailing political order.

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Sandcastles, Ball Games, and Scooters

Unearthing Children's Play in the Public Parks of Interwar Paris

Elvan Sahin

By the interwar years, Parisian parks—artificial pockets of nature in the densely built city—had become a locus of debates around “child-friendly play spaces.” The diversity of Paris’s young population in age, gender, and social status meant that the criteria of what constituted “child-friendly” was constantly in flux and that definitions of childhood remained fluid. Interwar Parisian parks became spaces of debate over proper forms of outdoor play and the risks children faced while playing. Municipal administrators and elected municipal councilors, together with pedagogues and parents, mutually constructed the spaces of parks and park-use policies. Children’s presence in public acted both as an incentive and a challenge in creating municipal policies to regulate public spaces or in reconfiguring the organization of these spaces. Municipal council debates, parents’ petitions or complaints, reports filed by neighborhood representatives, and daily logs recorded by park guards all reveal how children’s actions in green spaces played a pivotal role in the making and remaking of the urban environment.