Berny Sèbe
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Exalting imperial grandeur
The French empire and its metropolitan public
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By 1919, the French had assembled one of the largest empires in the world, second only to the British. Inspired by the directions of research pioneered by John MacKenzie, specialists of the French Empire started to combine methodologies from social and cultural history to revise our perception of French popular imperialism. Imperial locations increasingly became sources of inspiration in the visual arts, and Algeria appealed to some of the most prominent French artists. The cultures of French Indochina subsequently sparked sustained interest from explorers, scientists (archaeologists, historians, linguists) and writers, whose findings were shared with the metropolitan public through books and articles. The discovery of oil fields turned the Sahara into a cornerstone of French imperial grandeur in the 1950s. Books and even films advocated the implementation of ambitious plans of development under French rule, which were unrealistic given the likely outcome of the Algerian war.

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European empires and the people

Popular responses to imperialism in France, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy


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