Vichy, Resistance, Liberation: New Perspectives on Wartime France

Vichy, Resistance, Liberation: New Perspectives on Wartime France

Vichy, Resistance, Liberation: New Perspectives on Wartime France

Vichy, Resistance, Liberation: New Perspectives on Wartime France

Synopsis

Bringing together key international scholars, Vichy, Resistance, Liberation offers original insight into this critical period of modern France. It shifts the focus away from straightforward political history to reflect the current interest in socio-cultural aspects of the Second World War and breaks down traditional chronological barriers. In seeking to understand war from a social perspective, the contributors focus on people and communities. Several contributors explore the lives of previously little known individuals in Vichy France--Paulette Bernège, Daniel Guérin, Georges Mauco, François Perroux. Other contributors emphasize some of the forgotten actors of the period, most notably the anarchists. Other contributors uncover new information about women's experience in Vichy France.

Excerpt

Simon Kitson and Hanna Diamond

This text is intended as a tribute to the work of the historian Rod Kedward who was the thesis supervisor of many of the contributors in this collection including both editors. Rod Kedward has been writing history since the early 1960s. He has worked on the Dreyfus Affair, on comparative fascism, on the anarchists and has recently completed a general history of twentieth-century France. But it is his work on Vichy, the Liberation and particularly the Resistance which has become the centrepiece of his research. So it is to these aspects of his scholarship that both this collection and this chapter will be devoted. This chapter will outline first some of the characteristics of Rod's work, underlining aspects which we believe make his work ground-breaking, inspiring and especially valuable. It will then explore how his work has been received by the academic community before finally outlining some of the ways in which the chapters in this volume have interacted with his research.

Rod's work has advanced scholarly debate on different levels, whether this be in its methodology or its subject matter. He has always demonstrated a preparedness to tackle subjects that others felt would be unrewarding or impossible. In his first major monograph on the Resistance, Resistance in Vichy France (1978), Rod set out to discover the ideas and motivations of résisters in the southern zone of France between 1940 and 1942. This subject was original in many ways. Up to that point the spotlight in historical research had been much less on motivations and more on simple descriptions of Resistance activity. In his study Rod moved the focus away from many of the most discussed forms of Resistance: he gave less space to sabotage or intelligence gathering, and placed greater emphasis on ideological dimensions. Although this text looked at the Resistance in political terms, something which in itself was not new, it took an unconventional definition of 'political' going well beyond the simple actions of parties or parliaments. Resistance in Vichy France was also highly unusual in that it concerned Resistance in an area of France which was not actually occupied and chose for its chronology the 1940–2 period, which was hardly the zenith of Resistance activity. This was important because it . . .

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