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French Colonial History 4 (2003) vii-ix
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Volume 4 of French Colonial History, like its predecessors, includes papers prepared for delivery at several of the annual meetings of the French Colonial Historical Society: the 27th, convened in East Lansing and Detroit, Michigan, in 2001, and the 28th, held in New Haven, Connecticut, in 2002. The volume demonstrates the temporally, topically, and geographically broad interests of the Society's members, who write here on subjects as diverse as rats and astronomical observatories, liaisons and loyalty oaths, widows and ethnologists. In the midst of the diversity, however, several themes thread through the essays—historiographical reconsiderations, varieties of French colonial government, the creation and deployment of ethnic and racial stereotypes, the ambitions and limits of colonial projects, the roots and ramifications of decolonization—and these themes provide alternative links among articles that are grouped here by region and period.
Winner of the Society's Alf Heggoy Prize for a best book on French colonial history, Peter Moogk's La Nouvelle France is at once the synthesis of a lifetime of imaginative research and a fresh look at the ways in which French Canada has been represented. Thus, it is fitting that Peter Moogk himself, together with the commentators Allan Greer and Sylvie Dépatie, should place issues of evidence and historiography at the center of their contributions to the roundtable that opens this volume of French Colonial History. The remaining articles in part I show that there is still much to learn about the societies of New France and Acadia, both by investigating little-used sources, and by re-examining more familiar documents and interpretations. A. J. B. Johnston sheds new light on the ways in which colonial authorities sought to ensure settlers' loyalty. Focusing on villages around Montreal, Molly Richter investigates the disparate strategies for, and success in, managing their situation adopted by widows and widowers. In a review of relations between New France and what are often depicted as its most [End Page vii] implacably hostile Native American neighbors, Jon Parmenter finds them more peaceful and mutually beneficial than Anglophone scholars have been wont to recognize.
Part II brackets colonies on the edges of France's New World empire. Brazil was the object of French colonizing hopes that were as high as they were repeatedly dashed. Exploring one phase of this history, Laura Fishman outlines the contradictory views of an early seventeenth-century missionary toward the native Tupinamba, attitudes that incorporated both a critique of European mores and a justification for introducing French institutions and practices into South America. Louisiana was a latecomer among French New World possessions, but as Gilles Langlois and Khalil Saadani illustrate, it was also the site of ambitious (if all too quickly frustrated) attempts at founding scientific institutions and establishing appropriate structures of colonial government. And though oft-scorned, Louisiana remained a terrain onto which some metropolitan Frenchmen continued to project their dreams, as Julien Vernet elucidates in his account of a last-ditch effort to perpetuate French colonists' interests, even after the territory's cession to the United States.
Whereas France's early modern colonies had been centered in the Americas, its much larger nineteenth- and twentieth-century empire was based in Africa and Indochina. The articles in the third section discuss a variety of concerns and conflicts that arose in this new empire. Jeremy Rich discloses fears and stereotypes that, together with clashing personal and institutional goals, complicated interracial unions between African women and European men. Stereotypical and racist views of colonial subjects also figure large in Michael Vann's analysis of an early twentieth-century Hanoi rodent crisis, which the modernizing, sanitation-minded colonial state inadvertently created, but could not resolve. Education was another matter of great importance to reform-minded colonial administrators. Spencer Segalla shows how, in Morocco, the development and implementation of new pedagogical principles were thwarted by their authors' inability to surmount the limitations of their ethnographical approach, and by policymakers' imperatives.
Since the mid-twentieth century, of course, colonization has yielded to decolonization. Using memoirs, letters, and oral testimony, Ruth Ginio examines Vichy's unwitting contribution to...