Introduction

Letter from the Editors

Authors: Roxanne Panchasi (Simon Fraser University) , Meghan Roberts (Bowdoin College) , Andrew M Daily (University of Memphis)

  • Letter from the Editors

    Introduction

    Letter from the Editors

    Authors: , ,

How to Cite:

Panchasi, R., Roberts, M. & Daily, A. M., (2024) “Letter from the Editors”, The Journal of the Western Society for French History 49: 1, 1–2. doi: https://doi.org/10.3998/wsfh.5353

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The present issue marks our first as the new JWSFH editorial team. We are grateful to previous editors Bethany Keenan, Julia Osman, and Sarah Shurts for their stewardship and advice, and to the Society for its support. As long-standing members of the WSFH who take seriously the Society’s mission to “embrac[e] a dynamic, diverse, and engaged scholarly community that is actively committed to achieving equity and inclusion in the production and transmission of knowledge about the Francophone world,” we aspire to shape the journal to represent the engagé work being done by the WSFH and its members.

Inspired by a series of papers presented at the 2022 meeting in Victoria, B.C., the special theme for this volume, “Reparation and Restitution,” reflects this commitment. A cluster of articles examines claims for reparation and restitution in twentieth-century France. Elizabeth Campbell traces the struggle of the descendants of the Franco-Jewish art dealer Paul Rosenberg to recover paintings, including a Monet, that were looted during the Nazi Occupation. Sarah Griswold looks at debates in the League of Nations and at the Louvre over the status of colonial art and artifacts, tracing early efforts by anticolonial nationalists to establish a principle of art restitution as well as the fierce resistance mounted by European museums—in this case, the Louvre—to their efforts. Claire Mayo’s essay rounds out the group by examining how gendered conceptions of labor and ownership shaped how reparations were disbursed by the French government in the wake of the 1910 Paris Flood. Their interlinked articles show how reparations and restitution following catastrophes, whether natural or man-made, were conditioned by race, gender, ethnicity, and citizenship.

In addition to this trio, the volume includes two additional articles. Burleigh Hendrickson explores connections between 1968 and the Arab Spring in Tunisia, identifying how the concept of “dignity” resonated in and between these different historical episodes. Shifting gears, Thomas Sosnowski’s essay looks at competing definitions of papal power—one Gallican, the other ultramontane—during the Fronde (1648–1653). Together, they attest to our membership’s capacious interests.

As you read through this volume, you will also notice some changes. We have developed two new sections of the journal, both inaugurated in this edition, that depart from the traditional journal article format. The first is “Interventions,” a forum in which colleagues can respond to emerging and developing events in the Francophone world. In the present issue, Meryem Belkaïd contextualizes and addresses the furor around Mathieu Vadepied’s Tirailleurs (2022). As we have imagined it, there is no limit to what topics this section might tackle. The beauty of an open-access online journal, especially one where authors retain copyright, is that we have at our disposal a flexible and accessible platform well-placed to respond to current events. We encourage authors to send us their pitches and submissions for pieces on developments in the Francophone world.

The second new section is “Notes on Sources.” These short (800–1000 word) essays focus on a written or audiovisual source drawn from a scholar’s area of expertise and can serve as a “teaser” for works in progress. We also envision this section as expanding the primary sources available to teachers and instructors, expanding the corpus of sources in translation to include texts from marginalized and underrepresented voices. Robin Mitchell and Emily Marker have generously shared two documents from their research in progress focused on the Haitian Revolution and the Holocaust, respectively. Revisiting the lives of Suzanne Louverture and Leo Marker, these pieces engage this issue’s theme of “Reparations and Restitution” in a form accessible to both scholars and students of France and the Francophone world.

Taken together, we hope that this issue reflects not only the breadth and depth of the research conducted by WSFH’s members, but also offers an editorial template in line with the Society’s aims and values. We have many other exciting ideas in development and look forward to sharing them with you over the course of our three-year term. One thing that will not change, however, is our commitment to mentoring and amplifying the work of junior and non-TT historians working in and outside of traditional academic roles. While the journal has long been closely tied to the Society’s annual conference, and attendees have been encouraged to revise their talks into journal-length articles for publication here, we welcome submissions from anyone working in French and Francophone history and studies. We are happy to answer any questions you might have about the review and publication process, and eager to hear your thoughts about how the journal might best serve the Society and the larger field.