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The French Resistance in World War II through the history of emotions - 8 December 2022

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Since 1944, tens of thousands of articles and books have been written about the French Resistance during the Second World War. Former resisters and historians, French and non-French, took part in this grand enterprise. During the last decades, there has been an enormous outpouring of memories, coupled with lively debates and disputes among academics about this history. Nevertheless, these discussions have tended to obscure or marginalise our efforts to get closer to the personal experience of the resistance fighters themselves. This is all the more important as the last of these fighters gradually pass away, taking their intimate secrets and personal memories to the grave.

Professor Guillaume Piketty will deliver a lecture about how the history of sensitivities and emotions can be used to unearth these secrets by making use of sources such as private writings, photographs, drawings, and personal objects created by resisters. They offer a fresh look, from below, at what the commitment to the resistance and the fight that followed represented on a daily basis. They also make it possible to fully approach a field of study that has so far been understudied, that of the resistant fight in prisons and concentration camps. They further enrich the study of the long and sometimes painful process of transitioning out of resistance. Lastly, they establish a natural link with the sensitive and emotional context in which, even today, the Resistance struggle is celebrated in France.

Guillaume Piketty - 17 décembre 2021 small

About the speaker

Guillaume Piketty is Professor of History at Sciences Po Paris, specialising in the social and cultural history of the Second World War in France and Europe, and, more broadly, the potentially long-term processes by which individuals transition from war to peace. His research examines the intersections between war, resistance, and post-war individual reconstruction, with a particular interest in the history of emotions, sentiment, and intimacy. His publications includeFrançais, libre. Pierre de Chevigné (2022), La bataille des Ardennes (2013), Résister. Les archives intimes des combattants de l’ombre (2011), and Pierre Brossolette, un héros de la Résistance (1998). He is co-author and editor of numerous volumes, including Les compagnons de l’aube. Archives inédites des compagnons de la Libération (with Vladimir Trouplin, 2014), Foreign Fighters and Multinational Armies. From Civil Conflicts to Coalition Wars, 1848-2015 (co-edited with Steven O’Connor, 2022), Français en résistance. Carnets de guerre, correspondances, journaux personnels (2009), and Retour à l’intime au sortir de la guerre (co-edited with Bruno Cabanes, 2009). He is also a member of the Comité directeur de la recherche historique de la Défense and a member of the Steering Committee of the Society for the History of War.

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