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Title: French cultural representations of India under the Third Republic (1870-1940)
Author: Dale , Kathryn
ISNI:       0000 0004 2732 9180
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis analyses representations of the French comptoirs in India - Pondichery, Mahe, Karikal, Yanaon and Chandemagor - in metropolitan French cultural production under the Third Republic. Explorations of representations of empire in French cultural production under the Third Republic have previously focused on France's 'new' colonies acquired during the period to examine manifestations of national, colonial and Republican identities (Cooper (2001), Chafer and Sackur (2002), Robson and Yee (2005), Lorcin (2006), Hale (2008)). This thesis instead investigates representations of India - a colony acquired, but effectively 'lost' under the Ancien Regime. Despite being reduced to the five comptoirs by the British in 1763, which remained small geographically and politically speaking compared to British hegemony and to France's 'new' colonies, the comptoirs continued to have a cultural resonance in France under the Third Republic. Not only did the loss of India continue to be lamented, but paradoxically, it was also used as a catalyst for colonial expansion in Indochina in particular, which was viewed by colonial commentators as an ideal compensation for the failings on the subcontinent. Thus, the 'new' colonial projects under the Third Republic continued to be narrativized by the losses under the Ancien Regime. This thesis demonstrates how the narrative of the loss of India continued to be told and re-told, providing an example of national disaster to be avoided and to make a clear distinction between the failings of the Monarchy and the successes of the new Republican regime. It examines how the loss of India was viewed with regret and nostalgia, which enabled the French to perpetuate a relationship with India, based mainly on romance and sentiment. This melancholy notwithstanding, this thesis examines how the loss of India was used to advance France's colonial projects under the Third Republic, especially in Indochina. It also outlines how India was represented in the context of competing colonialisms, and how critical portrayals of the more dominant British allowed for the dissemination of the idea that France had a privileged relationship with India. The French presence in India continues to be overlooked by scholars such as Daughton (2006), Conklin, Fishman and Zarestky (2011), and this thesis strives to fill this lacuna. Moreover, this thesis demonstrates how the representational strategies outlined above were employed in different ways throughout the period and were inflected by wider Republican, national and colonial historico-political contexts. Through a critical analysis of how these versions of France's story in India were articulated, albeit in different forms, at colonial exhibitions, in school textbooks, in adventure novels and in trade cards issued by Chocolat Suchard, this work provides an example of how a story of colonial failure, instead of one of success, was used to consolidate Republican, anti-monarchical, colonial and anti-British agendas. As such, it shows how moments of colonial loss, which paradoxically were used as a reference point to imagine former national glories, sustained continuities which informed subsequent manifestations of France's national projects under Republicanism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available