France Between the Wars: Gender and Politics

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Psychology Press, 1996 - History - 280 pages
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This text challenges a prevailing assumption that women had little influence or power in France during the interwar period. Sian Reynolds shows how women in fact had both autonomy and authority within the political arena through their activities in social work, peace movements and strikes, and in other areas less directly linked with conventional politics. Sian Reynolds brings together two kinds of history: the political history of France between the wars as it appears in general textbooks, and the work carried out in women's history covering the same period. In doing so she creates a history in which gender contributes in new ways to historical analysis. The book is not, however, concerned exclusively with critical hariography. It is also the result of the author's and others' recent empirical and archival research. As such, it is a book which will appeal to both those studying French history and women's history.
 

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Contents

DEMOGRAPHY AND ITS DISCONTENTS
18
FROM KINDERGARTEN TO YOUTH HOSTEL
38
A SLIP OF A GIRL CAN FLY IT The false promises of aviation
65
WHAT DID PEOPLE DO ALL DAY? The sexual division of labour in France between the wars
83
FROM THE DEPRESSION TO THE STRIKES Ouvriers and ouvrieres
109
SEXES? The politics of social intervention from the Great War to the Popular Front
132
THE PERMEABILITY OF PUBLIC LIFE Mainstream and alternative politics
156
WAR AND PEACE Assent and dissent
181
RIGHTS AND THE REPUBLIC The interwar years as antechamber to democracy?
204
CONCLUSION
222
NOTES
227
SOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
252
CHRONOLOGY
268
INDEX
274
Copyright

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Page 13 - I assume that history's representations of the past help construct gender for the present. Analyzing how that happens requires attention to the assumptions, practices and rhetoric of the discipline, to things either so taken for granted or so outside customary practice that they are not usually a focus for historians
Page 11 - To pursue meaning, we need to deal with the individual subject as well as social organization and to articulate the nature of their interrelationships, for both are crucial to understanding how gender works, how change occurs. Finally, we need to replace the notion that social power is unified, coherent, and centralized with something like Michel Foucault's concept of power as dispersed constellations of unequal relationships, discursively constituted in social "fields of force.
Page 11 - Experience is at once always already an interpretation and something that needs to be interpreted. What counts as experience is neither self-evident nor straightforward; it is always contested, and always therefore politicaL The study of experience, therefore, must call into question its originary status in historical explanation.
Page 11 - ... brings about) change in our understanding of Man (a simple cumulative pluralism won't work). The radical threat posed by women's history lies exactly in this kind of challenge to established history; women can't just be added on without a fundamental recasting of the terms, standards and assumptions of what has passed for objective, neutral and universal history in the past because that view of history included in its very definition of itself the exclusion of women.

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About the author (1996)

William Kidd is Reader in French Studies at the University of Stirling. Sian Reynolds is Professor of French Studies at the University of Stirling.

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