As the new editor of French Colonial History, I am deeply excited to present to you Volume 14. This issue captures the breadth encompassed by historians exploring the French empire. I owe a great debt to my predecessor as editor of the journal, Nathalie Dessens, who brought these manuscripts to fruition before passing the helm to me at the 2012 French Colonial Historical Society annual conference in New Orleans. Her professionalism and dedication have been exemplary, and I can only hope to follow in her impressive path.
The cultural aspects of colonial encounters are a major theme in this year’s volume. Christopher Bilodeau investigates how Wabanaki Native American people selectively engaged with Catholic rituals in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Rather than resisting or meekly accommodating to the new religion, Wabanaki considered Christian traditions to be another source of spiritual power along with indigenous rituals. Turning to Vietnam, Caroline Herbelin’s essay explores the rise of Vietnamese architects during Vichy rule during World War Two. Government plans to promote urban planning and a blending of Vietnamese and French influences opened new opportunities up for Vietnamese architects, even as the regime claimed to celebrate the grandeur of French imperial power. By contrast, Philipp Krämer exposes how the documenting of cultural metissage was often an effort to reify racial and cultural differences. His exploration of late nineteenth-century linguistic research on creole in Mauritius shows how scholars worked to defend sharply-defined hierarchies between Europeans and colonial subjects. [End Page v]
How colonial rule articulated internal French discussions of gender and governance is another valuable subject that pulls together several contributions in this volume. Julie d’Andurain explores the convoluted process by which a separate ministry of the colonies emerged in the early decades of the Third Republic. Instead of simply assuming the separation of the colonial and naval ministries was brought about by rapid colonial expansion, her close reading of struggles within the French government over this issue denotes how bureaucratic struggles also shaped (and ultimately slowed) the formation of a separate colonial ministry. Massimiliano Vaghi’s contribution explores how French administrator and scholar Alfred Martineau tried to argue that French officials in India actually were pioneers of the kind of colonial policy that dominated French empire in the Third Republic. Although Martineau often misjudged the policies of Bussy and Dupleix, his studies did show how twentieth-century policymakers sought past precedent for current views about the value of empire in the Ancien Régime. Lastly, Elodie Jauneau analyzes how French women developed their own narratives about their time in Indochina during the Franco-Vietnamese war. French women developed feminized representations of Vietnam that both corresponded with and complicated the dominant masculine constructions of the war and Vietnam.
I sincerely wish that this issue inspire scholars of French empire in all of its diversity to consider publishing their own work in French Colonial History. [End Page vi]