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312 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Eric T. Jennings. Vichy in the Tropics: Pétain=s National Revolution in Madagascar, Guadeloupe, and Indochina, 1940B1944 Stanford University Press. vii, 312. US$55.00 Vichy beyond the French hexagon is the subject of Eric Jennings=s prizewinning study. Arguing that the purest form of Vichy=s National Revolution can be found where there was no German occupation to influence Vichy=s program, Jennings examines three colonies as examples of true Vichy applied to the subjects of the French Empire. Vichy in the tropics displayed the characteristics of the regime that have been examined in recent historiography: authoritarianism, the cult of Marshal Pétain, antirepublicanism , anti-democracy, anti-Semitism, renewal through physical education and discipline, and an emphasis on community over individualism . As in metropolitan France, Vichy in the empire sought to reverse the >false= policies and values of the fallen and discredited Third Republic. Although the National Revolution in the three colonies reflected a common ideology, the impact and consequences of the project produced different outcomes in each example. Using local archives in Guadeloupe, Madagascar, and Vietnam, along with the documentation at the Archives for Overseas France in Aix-en-Provence, Jennings has written an impressive comparative study in contrasts. He has structured his analysis in sets of two parallel chapters for each example. One chapter establishes the context for a subsequent analysis of the way in which the National Revolution played out in practice. Vichy rejected any idea of assimilating the peoples of these colonies. Instead, the new rulers claimed to respect indigenous traditions, particularly in Indochina, as a way of associating a conservative elite with Vichy=s values of work, family, and country along with an emphasis upon a return to the soil and nostalgia for authentic traditions. Reception of the National Revolution varied according to local circumstances, revealing a diversity among the colonies of the French Empire. In the short-lived (1940B42) regime in Madagascar, Vichy governors promoted the cult of Marshal Pétain and harshly repressed dissidence to the satisfaction of hard-line French colonists. They purged the educational system of republican ideas and favoured the simple coastal peoples over the dominant Merina of the central highlands. They also brought back a brutal system of forced labour. The memory of harsh measures contribxxxxxxxx uted to a bitter resistance to the French colonial system that culminated in a bloody uprising and repression in 1947. Independence, not association, was the long-term consequence of Vichy=s rule in Madagascar. In Indochina, Admiral Decoux enthusiastically applied the National Revolution and praised >authentic= Vietnamese traditions that could be humanities 313 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 related to Vichy preferences for authority, hierarchy, and the wisdom of elders, seen in pervasive portraits of Marshal Pétain. But praise of tradition could backfire. By praising national Vietnamese resisters to the foreigner, such as comparing the Trung sisters= opposition to Chinese domination to Joan of Arc=s resistance to the British, the seeds of a postwar Vietnamese nationalist resistance were inadvertently planted only to be harvested later by Ho Chi Minh. In Guadeloupe, Vichy confronted a firmly established republicanism. Citizenship had been granted to adult males, which meant that >Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity= meant something to the people of Guadeloupe. Jennings describes the way in which the >dismantling of the republic= had to be accomplished before imposing the National Revolution. Again, a nascent resistance to Vichy was firmly put down with the leaders jailed or driven into exile. The people of Guadeloupe feared that the National Revolution meant racism and a destruction of rights that had been won. In this example, the attack upon republicanism and the repression association with Vichy brought a postwar rally to the republic. A form of assimilation, not separation, marked the island=s postwar history when Guadeloupe opted to become a department of France. Eric Jennings is to be congratulated on a fine monograph that expands our understanding of Vichy and opens new perspectives on the postwar process of decolonization in the French Empire. (KIM MUNHOLLAND) Adrienne Kertzer. My Mother=s Voice: Children, Literature...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 312-313
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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