Launching Paper Trails: Second-hand book to living book (with sandwiches in between)

This story started with a second-hand book I had ordered from a bookseller in Toulouse. Exploring its uncut pages and recontextualising its material history led me to reflect on the idea of research stories and sparked creative ideas about our affective relationship with archives and collections. Later, in the classroom, the story continued as students reacted creatively to items from Special Collections, challenging my own … Continue reading Launching Paper Trails: Second-hand book to living book (with sandwiches in between)

Adjustments: Learning and Teaching in Lockdown

I recently wrote up a blog post about my experiences adapting to the pandemic, with some reflections on my own pedagogy, as well as experiences of being a student (on my degree apprenticeship) at the same time. You can find that piece over on the French History Network blog by following this link. I’ll be taking part in a roundtable on Online Pedagogy at my … Continue reading Adjustments: Learning and Teaching in Lockdown

Postcards of the Past: Gilets Jaunes on Trial

The opening of the trial against people accused of damaging the Arc de Triomphe during Gilets Jaunes protests represents an emotive and symbolic process, as noted in recent press coverage of the event. But does the COVID context rewrite the echoes of the past which pervaded the protests? At the time, in December 2018, national and international news focussed intently on the destruction of national … Continue reading Postcards of the Past: Gilets Jaunes on Trial

New York Welcomes De Gaulle

“A Greater and Better Humanity”: Memory and trails of De Gaulle

Like most cities, New York is awash with memorials which speak of civic, national and international memories of past conflicts. Yet, in writing a lecture, I enjoyed discovering more about a memorial on its outskirts which struck me as decidedly unusual. I was writing a lecture about the aftermath of war, De Gaulle’s presidency, and the ways in which the legacies of conflict shaped diplomacy. … Continue reading “A Greater and Better Humanity”: Memory and trails of De Gaulle

Qonspiracy

Qonspiracy These might be the interesting times that people warned us about… I was approached by a journalist to talk about the way that conspiracism (and in particular the QAnon conspiracy) had developed in France in recent months (with the resulting article published by France24 here) and then shortly after by another (with the Vice article pubished here). It struck me that in the context … Continue reading Qonspiracy

COVID-19 and Macron’s “Society of Free Individuals”

One of the things I enjoy about teaching Contemporary History and Politics is the sense of a subject in motion. Sometimes, however, that motion can take you by surprise. On the morning of Wednesday 14th October, I was asked by France24 to watch French President Emmanuel Macron’s evening broadcast about his government’s approach to tackling the COVID-19 crisis and provide some instant analysis afterwards. I … Continue reading COVID-19 and Macron’s “Society of Free Individuals”

Thinking through change, thinking through empire

Whatever else happens, the sense of change swirling around the world at the moment is palpable. We do, as they say, live in Interesting Times. Apocryphal Chinese curses aside, we are in a moment which offers opportunities to question our perspectives. For my own part, an errant chain of thought led me to consider ways of thinking through the intersections between my research and my … Continue reading Thinking through change, thinking through empire

My daughter's drawing of me

Message in a Bottle

I wrote a blog about my experience of trying to ‘do history’ under lockdown (with a little help from a toddler). It’s up as a guest-post on my friend Jerry DeGroot’s excellent blog, which is tracking his own reactions to the current crisis and inviting others to contribute. Head on over to see what it’s all about: https://mymycorona.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/message-in-a-bottle/ Continue reading Message in a Bottle

Apples and Sestertii: Shifting Symbols of Chirac

The slick Caius Preposterous knew how to turn a deal. He also knew the way to political power. How to subdue the rebellious Gauls? “Easy, O Caesar. Gold, the profit motive will enfeeble them and keep them busy. We must corrupt them.” When Goscinny and Uderzo needed a flash young man to seduce Obelix & Co in 1976, they needed look no further than to … Continue reading Apples and Sestertii: Shifting Symbols of Chirac

‘Uprooting Identity’: Recording of IHR Paper

A summary of my paper at the IHR is now available over at the French History Network Blog. Head on over to the FHN site to have a listen to a recording of the paper. Link: http://frenchhistorysociety.co.uk/blog/?p=2026 Here’s the content reposted for the meantime: Date & Place: Monday 29th April, in the IOE Bedford Way, Room 784. Speakers: Dr Andrew WM Smith (Chichester) Paper Title: Uprooting identity: European … Continue reading ‘Uprooting Identity’: Recording of IHR Paper