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The Sum of Us
Colonial Power and National Identity : Pierre Mendès France and the History
Pierre Mendès France and the History of French Decolonisationav Marie Demker299
This study addresses the puzzle why Pierre Mendès France as French Prime Minister managed to grant Indochina independence through negotiations, but neglected the same demand from Algeria. In the mid-1950s, France was experiencing not only a political crisis but also a crisis of national identity. The author shows that there were competing national identities among the French foreign policy elite, and that the struggle among different identity conceptions was a determinant factor in the outcome of the Indochina and Algeria cases. Pierre Mendès France tried to decolonize France by making France a European power. This seemed successful when France left Indochina, but it turned to be a failure when Algeria demanded its independence. The research material represents a unique collection of speeches, letters, radio performances, opinion polls, media debates and internal working papers. Marie Demker is a Swedish Political Science professor at Göteborg University and Södertörn University College. She has written several books and articles on foreign policy, French politics and party politics.
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