Martin Thomas
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Reform frustrated
The Popular Front experiment and the French empire
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At the outset of the Popular Front experiment colonial reform refracted previously enacted domestic policies. The Popular Front's resumption of assimilationist policies was too shortlived to bring about significant increases in the overall numbers of colonial citizens. Much of the disappointment surrounding Popular Front colonial reform stems from the fact that the Henri Guernut commission amassed its evidence too late for the Blum ministry to act on it. Penal reforms in Indochina attracted less media attention in France than attempts to restructure the notorious bagne penal colony in French Guiana, popularly regarded as the harshest of all colonial prisons. Marius Moutet's path was eased by a sweeping clear-out of colonial governors known to be most resistant to reforms. Defeat of the Blum-Viollette project was catastrophic because it destroyed any prospect of the development of loyalist Muslim elite attached to France but allowed to retain its distinct religious identity.

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The French empire between the wars

Imperialism, Politics and Society


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