Jacques Cantier, Éric Jennings

The French Colonial Empire under Vichy Publication date : November 5, 2004

In the 1990s, historians began studying the Vichy government in the French colonial empire. The articles gathered here by Jacques Cantier and Eric Jennings are the outcome of recent exchanges among historians on the subject. The book reflects the writers' various research interests and includes: an examination of the political decision-making process, the composition of governing bodies, the development of institutions to strengthen government control of society, and the reaction of the local population to the new political measures.
The editors' purpose is dual. First of all, the colonial mirror serves to elucidate the underlying logic and the workings of the regime that resulted from the French defeat. Secondly, the editors have sought to place the Vichy period into the wider context and more extended time frame of colonial history and decolonisation.
They have done this by structuring their analysis of Vichy in the empire into several sections. The first part of the book examines the conditions under which the Vichy government tried to unite the colonial bloc to mainland France. The second part analyses Vichy's authoritarian policies, particularly those that aimed at controlling youth. The large demonstrations that took place in Vichy Algeria in 1941 illustrate the efforts undertaken to showcase the National Revolution in Algeria. The third part studies the different forms of repression exercised by the regime, particularly the conditions governing the application of anti-Semitic legislation in the empire, the stifling of the Masons, and the existence of internment camps in North Africa. The fourth part reveals the tactics used by the European and colonial elites in French West Africa (Afrique Occidentale Française) to preserve their influence. The Vichy legacy is examined in a final section, which provides both an overview of the situation in the empire as a whole and a detailed analysis of the telling example of Madagascar.
This is a unique and highly innovative study by eminent historians of a little-known aspect of French colonial history during the Vichy period.

Jacques Cantier is a lecturer at the University of Toulouse-Le-Mirail, France. He is the author of L'Algérie sous le régime de Vichy and Jules Roy: l'Honneur d'un rebelle.
Eric Jennings is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, Canada. He is the author of Vichy in the Tropics.