Macron’s Appeal: Resistance and Myths

In March 1942, the trade-unionist Christian Pineau secretly flew to London from Nazi Occupied France, seeking to connect his resistance network with the broader efforts of the Free French based in London. Upon arriving, he was granted an audience with General Charles De Gaulle, and they dined at the Connaught hotel in Mayfair. There he discovered the difference between the internal resistance being carried out … Continue reading Macron’s Appeal: Resistance and Myths

“Citizen of nowhere”: Revolution and reaction revived

“Citizen of nowhere”: there’s a poetic ring to it, I suppose, though its inference is dark. As Peter Catterall points out, Theresa May was probably seeking to echo George Canning, that staunch Anti-Jacobin and self-appointed defender of England’s constitution. In his sneering stab at ‘The New Morality’, Canning lampoons the imagined proponent of French Revolutionary values as: “A steady Patriot of the World alone, The … Continue reading “Citizen of nowhere”: Revolution and reaction revived

Strength to Remain

Let’s not retreat into the nostalgic past, nor forfeit our influence. Let’s not surrender to fear & doubt. Let’s strive to remain together. Big organisations are messy by nature. The BBC has been described as more a warring federation than an organisation, bound by little but a collective commitment to its mission and its values; the NHS seems a vast, sprawling enterprise sometimes united only … Continue reading Strength to Remain

Life Cycles: The Ephemera of Research

Parking tickets, library cards, recipes, notes, and adverts; I love second-hand books and the stuff that you can find tucked inside them. These little things seem to make the everyday nature of their reading resonate, reminding me of the material history of the book alongside the wider history that I’m researching. Coming across someone else’s expired parking tickets (or their idle doodling) calls to mind … Continue reading Life Cycles: The Ephemera of Research

Guarding the Limits: Voices & Memory in an Age of Narrative

Historians aren’t meant to see the future, though sometimes it feels like we’re expected to. We all know the adage that it’s meant to repeat itself, and know also that it doesn’t. Sometimes, however, the present can seem out of kilter with the past, or even over-whelmed by it. Debates about memory seem to confirm that the growing importance of ‘Identity Politics’ (which as a … Continue reading Guarding the Limits: Voices & Memory in an Age of Narrative

Places and Parity: Processing Horrors

The leafy squares of Bloomsbury are a world away from the vibrant, bustling public squares of the Levant.  The farmer’s market that springs up every Thursday in Torrington Square is little like the markets of Damascus (even in happier, more peaceful days), though we can recognise common patterns.     The squares are suffused with layers of history, and though their physical landscapes cannot intersect, … Continue reading Places and Parity: Processing Horrors

French Wine Terrorism

What on earth is French Wine Terrorism? That’s a pretty reasonable question, to be honest, and it’s one I’m fairly used to hearing by this stage. The glib answer is that it’s the topic of my upcoming book with Manchester University Press, Terror and terroir: The winegrowers of the Languedoc and modern France (due September 2016). In recent times, the word terrorism has come to be … Continue reading French Wine Terrorism

REPOST: French History @ IHR: Roundtable discussion of Emile Chabal’s ‘A Divided Republic: Nation, State and Citizenship in Contemporary France’

This blog (written by me) was originally posted on the French History Network Blog http://frenchhistorysociety.co.uk/blog/?p=633   Date & Place: Monday 5 October, at the IHR, London. Speakers: Emile Chabal (Edinburgh) with responses from Julian Jackson (QMUL), James McDougall (Oxford), Claire Eldridge (University of Leeds) and David Priestland (Oxford) Paper Title: A roundtable discussion of Emile Chabal’s ‘A Divided Republic: Nation, State and Citizenship in Contemporary France’ Chair: Iain Stewart (QMUL)   … Continue reading REPOST: French History @ IHR: Roundtable discussion of Emile Chabal’s ‘A Divided Republic: Nation, State and Citizenship in Contemporary France’

Choosing a Leader: Thinking in Ink

I’ve been thinking a lot about political messages recently, about hope, about change, and about all that comes between them. As the ballot for the Labour leadership draws ever closer, it’s challenging to really pin down who I support. I’m a long-standing Labour member, and not a recent sign-up or affiliate, though I’ll admit I’ve not been much of an activist lately. I voted for … Continue reading Choosing a Leader: Thinking in Ink

Wine, Terror and the Tour de France

The Tour de France is one of France’s most lauded sporting events. It is a huge presence in the memory and identity of many French people and those from farther afield. The retracing of old routes, the blanket media coverage and the sense that it “belongs to the French collective memory of the Twentieth Century” all place it on the pantheon of international sporting events.[1] … Continue reading Wine, Terror and the Tour de France