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  • Preface
  • Nathalie Dessens

It is always a great pleasure for an editor to reach the final stage of the editing process and write the preface for a new volume. Volume 12 of French Colonial History is, as all the previous volumes, a collection of articles raising challenging questions, bringing forth new issues, and presenting original hypotheses.

This volume epitomizes the vitality of the society. It could have included more articles, which, for want of space, will have to wait to be published. It also proves the diversity of the society. If a good proportion of the articles deal with New France, maybe because the 2008 and 2009 conferences took place in North America, other regions are represented, including the Indian Ocean, too often absent from our selections. Some articles bring to our attention topics that have too long been neglected in the historiography. The article by Armelle Mabon on the dual effect of captivity on the prisoners of war from the colonies during World War Two highlights issues that pertain to French colonialism, but also to more international questions. The problematic of informal empire through the study by Abdiel Oñate of finances and banking in revolutionary Mexico is another of those groundbreaking issues that are too rarely examined. The articles by Nicolas Landry, Karin Velez, Timothy Pearson, and Samuel Mourin revisit the colonization of New France in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Arne Bialuschewski and Evelyne Combeau-Mari give snapshots of French colonization in the Indian Ocean, shedding new light on the wider issues of slavery and scientific knowledge in the French colonization process. Aline Demay wonders about the question of colonization, architecture, [End Page vii] and tourism, and if her article deals with Saigon, her conclusions can provide a better understanding of other parts of the French colonial empire.

This issue is placed under the double problematical axis of continuity and novelty. It is my pleasure to open the volume with the contribution of one of the original members of the French Colonial Historical Society, Cornelius Jaenen. His article, which revisits, 30 years after its publication, his groundbreaking Friend and Foe, is a proof of both continuity and novelty. It illustrates one of the missions of French Colonial History: not only our attachment to past research, but also our constant dedication to reassessing and reinterpreting the history of French colonization. In a similar dialectic of continuity and change, Samir Saul offers a sequel to his article published in Volume 10.

The present selection is a good mirror of the international dimension, bilingualism, and openness of our society. Having among the authors native speakers of French and English, researchers from Europe and America, graduate students and senior scholars enriches, cross-fertilizes, and widens our vision of French colonial experience.

It was a pleasure for me to work in close collaboration with all the authors, and I have learned a lot this year. The articles have widened my knowledge and opened new doors that have enriched my own research. I hope many readers will feel the same.

Before closing, I want to thank the authors for their patience. None ever protested at my constant requests for more revisions. I am also very grateful to the reviewers, who all gave some of their precious time to help the authors improve their already excellent texts. Finally, my thanks go to the publishing team of Michigan State University Press, and in particular to Margot Kielhorn and Anna Taylor, for their availability, constant attention, and helpful assistance. [End Page viii]



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