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Stéphanie Ponsavady

In his famous 1925 travelogue, Roland Dorgelès writes about his first encounter with the Mandarin Road in Indochina:

When you have dreamed for years of the Mandarin Road, the very name of which evokes all the splendors of the Orient, it is not surprising that you experience a flash of annoyance if you are suddenly held up at a corner, between a street-car and an autobus, by some numbskull who triumphantly announces, with the idea that he is delighting you:

“Well, there it is, your Mandarin Road!”

And then he shows you a guidepost with a blue sign, executed in the purest style of the Department of Bridges and Highways, whereon you read simply, “Colonial Road No. 1.”

Disappointment resides in the resemblance with metropolitan roads, signified by a generic blue sign. Dorgelès laments the lack of exotic experience, even though his presence is only permitted by colonial modernization and administrative uniformity. This tension between the desire for alterity and the rationalization ofspace is characteristic of the French experience in colonial Indochina.

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Michael G. Vann

André Joyeux's La Vie large des colonies ['The Colonial Good Life'] is an insider's portrait of the French colonial encounter in Southeast Asia. Published in Paris in 1912 but most likely penned in Saigon, the collection of cartoons explores the racial order of the colony. Although the artist critiques many aspects of the colony and highlights certain gross injustices, such as the coloniser's sexual predation and physical violence, he also articulates many of the bluntly racist French stereotypes of the Vietnamese, Chinese and other Asians in the colony. Joyeux, as an artist and as an art teacher, contributed to the development of cartoon and caricature as a medium in Vietnam, which would eventually be used in the anti-colonial, nationalist and communist movements. La Vie large des colonies is of importance as a primary source in the study of empire.

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An Indochinese Dominion

L'Effort indochinois and Autonomy in a Global Context, 1936–1939

M. Kathryn Edwards

In March 1938, the Hanoi newspaper L'Annam nouveau reflected on the political climate in Indochina that had come into being with the advent of the French Popular Front: For the past two years—specifically since August 1936— … a number of new

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Easternization Meets Westernization

Patriotic Youth Organizations in French Indochina during World War II

Anne Raffin

Although colonizers generally repressed emergent national movements as potential vehicles of national liberation, the French encouraged patriotic mobilizations in Indochina in the early 1940s as a way to counteract Thai irredentists, Vietnamese revolutionaries, and Japanese occupiers and their claims of “Asia for Asians.”1 Here, colonial authorities sought to build allegiance to the empire by “patriotizing” youth attitudes through sports activities and youth corps. Participation in such youth organizations mushroomed in Indochina between 1940 and 1945, gaining over a million members in that short span.2 The governor general of Indochina reported 600,000 members in youth corps in February 1944 alone.

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Jennifer Anne Boittin, Christina Firpo, and Emily Musil Church

This article looks at French Indochina, metropolitan France, and French West Africa from 1914 through 1946 to illustrate specific ways in which French colonial authority operated across the French empire. We look at how colonized people challenged the complex formal and informal hierarchies of race, class, and gender that French administrators and colonizers sought to impose upon them. We argue that both the French imperial prerogatives and colonized peoples' responses to them are revealed through directly comparing and contrasting various locales across the empire. Our case studies explore interracial families and single white women seeking compensation from the French in Indochina, black men de ning their masculinity, and Africans debating women's suffrage rights.

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An Indochinese Vichy Syndrome?

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.

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Pascal Bourdeaux

Indochina played a pioneering role during the decolonization of the French empire, and the religious issue proved important to the process. Even to this day, state-church relations bear signs of this contentious and painful past. The historiography of the Indochina War, as well as that of the Vietnam War, clearly call attention to the activism of religious leaders and religious communities, especially Buddhists and Catholics, who fought for independence, peace, and the needs and rights of the Third World. And religion was put to the service of shaping public opinion both in Vietnam and internationally. Naturally, ideological convictions during the era of decolonialization account for the dominance of political analysis of this subject. But with the passage of time we can now develop a more sociological understanding of people's religious motivations and practices and the role they played in the conflict between communism and nationalism. The historian can also re-examine the secularization process in decolonized societies by analyzing, on the one hand, the supposed loss of ascendancy of religions in society and, on the other hand, the appearance of new religious movements that tended to adapt to modernity. This essay explores these politico-religious dynamics in the context of the decolonization of Vietnam.

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Translated Objects

The Olov Janse Case

Johan Hegardt and Anna Källén

This article explores the movements of archaeological and ethnographic objects and museum collections connected with the Swedish-born archaeologist and ethnographer Olov R. T. Janse (1892–1985). Janse pursued a cosmopolitan career in the years between 1920 and 1960, in and between the national contexts of Sweden, France, Indochina, the Philippines, and the United States, where he found himself in different political contexts such as colonialism, nationalism, and the Cold War. He initiated object exchanges between French and Swedish museums, and he collected archaeological and ethnographic objects from Indochina and the Philippines for museums in Sweden, France, and the United States. The complexity of object movements in the wake of Olov Janse's career suggests that we should think and talk about object mobility in terms of translation rather than simple transmission. In seven sections, each exploring one chapter of Janse's life, we discuss how changes in world politics became entangled with changes in Janse's own position as an archaeologist and ethnographer, affecting the movements of objects and contributing to an active translation of their meaning.

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Indigènes into Signs

Incorporating Indigenous Pedestrians on Colonial Roads in 1920s and 1930s French Indochina

Stéphanie Ponsavady

In Colonial Indochina, the introduction of motorized transportation led French authorities to focus their attention on the issue of pedestrian walking. The political and economic imperatives of the colonial state shaped the modern phenomenon of traffic, which isolated the indigenous body as a sign of otherness. The unruly indigenous pedestrian expressed a discursive and experiential crisis that questioned colonialism itself. This article invites us to examine the political potential of walking by considering Henri Lefebvre's notion of dressage and its limitations in a colonial setting through various examples, from French accounts of indigenous walking in daily activities to political disruptions of traffic by pedestrian demonstrators and the incorporation of indigenous bodies in road safety policies. Repeatedly, colonial subjects eluded, criticized, or undermined the rules of the road and the colony by the simple act of walking.

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David A. Bell Qu’est-ce qu’un Français? Histoire de la nationalité française depuis la Révolution by Patrick Weil

Judith Stone To Be a Citizen: The Political Culture of the Early French Third Republic by James R. Lehning

K.H. Adler Vichy in the Tropics: Pétain’s National Revolution in Madagascar, Guadeloupe, and Indochina, 1940-44 by Eric T. Jennings

Tyler Stovall Childhood in the Promised Land: Working-Class Movements and the Colonies de Vacances in France, 1880-1960 by Laura Lee Downs

Donald Reid Workers’ Participation in Post-Liberation France by Adam Steinhouse

Mark Kesselman Pour une critique du jugement politique: Comment repolitiser le jeu démocratique by Dick Howard

Michael S. Lewis-Beck Ces Français qui votent Le Pen by Nonna Mayer