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Identity Papers: Contested Nationhood in Twentieth-Century France

Steven Ungar
Tom Conley
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 310
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsfkx
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  • Book Info
    Identity Papers
    Book Description:

    What does citizenship mean? The essays in this volume range in subject from fiction and essay to architecture and film. Among the topics discussed are the 1937 Exposition Universelle; films dealing with Vichy France; François Truffaut's Histoire d'Adèle H.; the war of Algerian independence; and nation building under François Mitterrand. Contributors: Anne Donadey, U of Iowa; Elizabeth Ezra, U of Stirling, Scotland; Richard J. Golsan, Texas A&M; Lynn A. Higgins, Dartmouth College; T. Jefferson Kline, Boston U; Panivong Norindr, U of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Shanny Peer, New York U; Rosemarie Scullion, U of Iowa; David H. Slavin; Philip H. Solomon; Florianne Wild, U of Alabama.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8689-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Questioning Identity
    (pp. 1-16)
    Steven Ungar

    The title of this collection explores a slippage in meaning among those in twentieth-century France for whom the category of citizenship has increasingly separated from identity, understood in both individual and collective expressions. This slippage has been heightened among naturalized foreigners for whom acquired citizenship has increased the feelings of difference and exclusion it was once expected to alleviate or even end. From the start, the English termsalienandforeignerthat translate the Frenchètrangerconvey an ambivalence linking the assertion of national identity to attitudes concerning race and ethnicity. Strong and persistent, these links are most often denied or “forgotten”...

  5. 1 Peasants in Paris: Representations of Rural France in the 1937 International Exposition
    (pp. 19-49)
    Shanny Peer

    The dispute between France and the United States over agricultural subsidies, resurgent in late 1992 and 1993 in connection with the GATT trade talks, stirred French politicians and journalists of different political persuasions to revive a long-standing defense of French farmers in the name of national interest and cultural identity. Socialist Prime Minister Pierre Bérégovoy proclaimed in November 1992, “We are dealing with the defense of France’s interests, our agriculture, our economy, our rural way of life.”¹ Just as important as the economic stakes were the social structures and cultural values—the “rural way of life”—considered to be embodied...

  6. 2 Colonialism Exposed: Miss France D’Outre-mer, 1937
    (pp. 50-65)
    Elizabeth Ezra

    In a coffee-table book published in conjunction with the 1937 Exposition universelle, there is an account of a beauty contest held on the Ile des Cygnes, the narrow strip of land in the middle of the Seine that housed a miniature replica of France’s colonial empire:

    Les dix beautés concurrentes, qui postulent le litre envié de Miss France d’outremer, toutes élues dans leur pays d’origine, sont nées de l’alliance d’un Français avec une Indigène de nos colonies ou ce qui se présente assez rarement, d’une Française ou d’une Européenne avec un Indigène. Ce sont des métisses, à l’exception de l’une...

  7. 3 Céline on the 1937 Paris Exposition Universelle as Jewish Conspiracy
    (pp. 66-88)
    Philip H. Solomon

    In March 1934, the Municipal Council of Paris decided to hold anexposition universelle(in the United States such an event is designated a world’s fair—I will keep one of the French terms and refer to it as an exposition) in Paris that would open in May 1937. Three months later, the French government approved the project and the funds for its realization. The exposition would take place in the center of Paris—principally, the area around the Eiffel Tower on the Left Bank of the Seine and the Palais de Chaillot, built for the 1937 Exposition, on the...

  8. 4 Pagnol and the Paradoxes of Frenchness
    (pp. 91-112)
    Lynn A. Higgins

    They say you can never step in the same river twice. A story, too, is always in flux, as individual and collective consciousness evolves, producing new meanings new cultural contexts and historical moments. There is in the fiction of Marcel Pagnol an anecdote that returns with variations throughout his career, metamorphosing from the theater through films and finally to prose fiction, retaining the following narrative outline. A man and woman fall in love. After the man’s departure (usually for Africa), the woman discovers she is pregnant. Attempting and failing to inform her lover by letter of her situation, she marries...

  9. 5 Heart of Darkness, Heart of Light: The Civilizing Mission in L’Atlantide
    (pp. 113-136)
    David H. Slavin

    Imperial “mythistory” erases the historical achievements of colonized people and substitutes insulting stereotypes; this is a familiar refrain of contemporary cultural criticism. Some texts carrying out these displacements display a vitality and longevity that indelibly mark the national identity of the imperial power and recast popular attitudes in a culture of dominance.¹ One such text is aL’Atlantide,a surreal film based on an equally mythomaniacal novel combining a setting in the heart of the vast Sahara, Foreign Legion officers on a mission (that “imperial manna term” as Roland Barthes called it), and the myth of the lost city. Any...

  10. 6 Collaboration and Context: Lacombe Lucien, the Mode Rétro, and the Vichy Syndrome
    (pp. 139-155)
    Richard J. Golsan

    Of the major films dealing with the Occupation produced in post-Gaullist France, none has proven more controversial than Louis Malle’sLacombe Lucien.Hailed by both the Right and the Left after its initial release in January 1974—prominent leftist critics like Jean-Louis Bory praised it as “the first true film .. . about the Occupation,” andLe FigaroandRivarollauded it, respectively, “a as beautiful film of high moral standing” and as “a work of great quality”¹—Lacombe Luciensoon fell on harder critical times. Beginning around February of the same year, a series of lengthier assessments of the...

  11. 7 Family Fictions and Reproductive Realities in Vichy France: Claude Chabrol’s Une Affaire de femmes
    (pp. 156-177)
    Rosemarie Scullion

    Contemporary feminist thought from Simone de Beauvoir on holds that women have been relegated to footnote status in conventional historiography and their experience thus effaced from the historical record. The validity of this claim is appreciable even in very recent rewritings of modern French history, a prime example of which can be found in Jean-Pierre Azéma’s 1979 contribution to the multivolume seriesLa Nouvelle Histoire de la France contemporaine.InDe Munich à la libération,Azéma details the turbulence and trauma of the immediate prewar and Occupation years in France, acknowledging only in condensed, subtextual form the crucial contributions made...

  12. 8 L’Histoire ressuscitée: Jewishness and Scapegoating in Julien Duvlvier’s Panique
    (pp. 178-192)
    Florianne Wild

    A number of well-known narrative films released over the past twenty years have as their explicit content depictions of the traumatic events associated with the of occupation of France by Nazi Germany, a threatening moment in nationhood that led the French under the Vichy government to attempt to define their identity in terms of whom they could exclude from their population. These films, which often treat the issues of collaboration and the fate of the Jews in the France of 1940—45, began to fill a gap in the French memory that opened immediately following the Liberation, an amnesic lapse...

  13. 9 Truffaut’s Adèle in the New World: Autobiography as Subversion of History
    (pp. 195-214)
    T. Jefferson Kline

    As the credits fade from the opening moments of Truffaut’s filmL’Histoire d’Adéle H.,a text appears on the screen announcing, “L’Histoire d’Adéle H. est authentique. Elle met en scène des événements qui ont eu lieu et des personnages qui ont existé.” An antique map of America fills the screen, and the camera zooms in on Canada. Another more detailed map of Canada now appears. The continuing movement of the camera narrows in on Nova Scotia and Halifax, as we hear the narration, “Nous sommes en 1863. . . .”¹

    Adèle H.is one of only two Truffaut’s films so...

  14. 10 “Une Certaine Idée de la France”: The Algeria Syndrome and Stuggles over “French” Identity
    (pp. 215-232)
    Anne Donadey

    For reasons both personal and political, almost all contemporary “Francophone” Algerian writers have felt compelled in their writings to come to terms with the 1954–62 War of National Liberation—what the French used to refer to with euphemisms such asles événements d’Algérie(the Algerian events),opérations de police(police operations),actions de maintien de l’ordre(actions to maintain order),opérations de rétablissement de la paix civile(operations to restore civilian peace), andentreprises de pacification(pacification undertakings), and finally came to callla guerre d’Algérie(the Algerian war).¹ In Algeria, that war has been constructed as the great...

  15. 11 La Plus Grande France: French Cultural Identity and Nation Building under Mitterrand
    (pp. 233-258)
    Panivong Norindr

    Many cultural forms, from poetry to the plastic arts, have played important roles in the discursive and representational practices that define, legitimate, and valorize specific ideas of nationhood and of the nation-state.¹ Yeats’s or Césaire’s poetry, for instance, has been read as “heroic narratives” byécrivainspatriotes,“national” poets who have articulated the experiences, aspirations, and visions of, respectively, the Irish and the people of Martinique.² Their work, while contesting and complicating the idea of the nation as a continuous narrative of national progress, also elaborates a certain view of the nation. Architecture can likewise be seen as an ambivalent discourse...

  16. 12 The Coluche Effect
    (pp. 259-271)
    Steven Unger

    The question of who is (and who is not) French used to be a simple matter when citizenship served as the necessary and sufficient criterion for determining identity. Until recently, children born in France were automatically granted citizenship even if their parents were not French citizens. But as policies and laws have changed in light of evolving attitudes toward foreigners, terms such asalien,immigrant,andnaturalizationhave become increasingly charged with connotations that vary according to ideology, class, and even geography. I propose in this essay to examine a specific phase in evolving attitudes toward national identity in post-1968 France...

  17. Afterword Identity: Never More
    (pp. 272-282)
    Tom Conley

    Identity Papershas been designed to compare the artifacts of France in the 1930s and those of the postcolonial aftermath in which we live. In their general composition and relation to each other, the essays aim to show that the construct French identity in the 1930s has much to teach us about similar dilemmas that face France and all industrialized nations at the end of the twentieth century. What was then and what is now are hardly the same, but many parallel issues invite a reconsideration of the ways the 1930s are understood and nonetheless figure in forces that determine...

  18. Contributors
    (pp. 283-286)
  19. Index
    (pp. 287-299)