Visions of Race and Gender: Press Coverage of the French Colonial Expositions of 1922 and 1931

by Zachary Morgan

Institution: University of Central Florida
Year: 2015
Keywords: Arts and Humanities  – Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic  – Arts and Humanities; France; paris; marseille; colonies; indigenous; colonial populations
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2081937
Full text PDF: http://digital.library.ucf.edu/cdm/ref/collection/ETD/id/6615


During the interwar period, France attempted to reinvigorate interest in the empire amongst the public via elaborate colonial expositions. The colonial expositions of Marseille (1922) and Paris (1931) served as a means to celebrate the empire and to educate the French about the benefits of living within Greater France, an entity that included the metropole and the colonies. This thesis examines how press coverage of both expositions worked alongside these events to counteract anxieties regarding France's economic recovery after the war, continuing world presence, demographic losses, and most importantly the relationship between France and its colonies. It explores how the press attempted to mitigate these fears by creating, reinforcing, and reproducing an economically positive, dynamic, vibrant and ultimately sanitized vision of the colonies. This thesis argues that the press actively supported the goals of the expositions and championed the success of the civilizing mission, and demonstrates the media's role in perpetuating visions of French universalism. Their vision reveals contradictions found within French universalism that helps form a basis for analysis. This study scrutinizes the dominant discourses regarding the colonies during the interwar period and how the press used contemporary concepts of race and gender in their coverage of the expositions. This thesis argues that the press used the figure of the colonial soldier/worker and the erotic and patriarchal relationship between France and its colonies to reinforce colonial hierarchies regarding race and gender. The press attempted to shape the public's view of the empire through reconstructions of the imperial project and its people that idealized France's mission. Only the communist press sought to highlight the ferocity of French colonization. Advisors/Committee Members: Lyons, Amelia.