Scouting: an educational method for adolescent boys and girls

Boy scouts scrubbing potatoes for dinner at a camp near Cambridge, 1943. Photo: Wildman Shaw.

Auteur-e-s

Scouting is a youth movement aiming to cultivate character and shape future citizens through the use of active educational methods. Founded in England in 1907, scouting quickly developed across the globe. In most European countries, its introduction led to the creation of a number of associations based either on a religious foundation or a principle of religious neutrality. For instance, there are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and secular associations, and more recently Muslim ones as well. Although it was initially intended exclusively for young boys, scouting quickly opened up to young girls, leading to the creation of separate women’s associations. During the second half of the twentieth century, the development of coeducation prompted most masculine and feminine organizations to merge, and to add gender equality to their pedagogical objectives. 

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Diplomats and Diplomacy

Portrait of Charles Gravier Count of Vergennes and French Ambassador, in Turkish Attire. 

Auteur-e-s

Diplomats, who belonged to the same aristocratic world and were linked by transnational relations of friendship and family, also took part in debates over ideas, and symbolized in Europe the cosmopolitan ideal of the eighteenth century. Confronted since the end of nineteenth century with numerous problems, they operate within a wider and more diverse international community, with the appearance after 1945 of new non-state actors. Although diplomatic methods have undergone numerous transformations, beginning with the interwar period, they remain faithful to cultural and humanistic values, as well as to the practices inherited from their predecessors.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

From Sea to Land

“Into the Jaws of Death,” photograph taken on the morning of June 6, 1944, in front of Omaha Beach in Normandy. 

Auteur-e-s

Amphibious operations, documented since Antiquity but associated with the major landings of World War Two, belong to the classical range of warfare. In spite of technological evolutions, the problems remain identical: being able to successfully combine means by land, air, and sea during an attack on a coastline. After the glory days of the early modern period, which won renown for British “landings” on the continent, the Industrial Revolution led to their eclipse, so much so that in 1939, strategists were convinced that the era of amphibious operations was a thing of the past. However World War Two, which opposed naval and land powers, on the contrary provided them with a new dimension.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Degrowth: the history of an idea

The symbol of degrowth, reused notably by the Parti pour la décroissance (PPLD).

Auteur-e-s

Degrowth is a concept-platform with multiple meanings, and is shaped by five sources of thought: ecological, bioeconomical, anthropological, democratic, and spiritual. The word appeared in the 1970s, and imposed itself beginning in 2002 owing to the convergence between the criticism of development and the anti-advertising movement, initially in France but later across the European continent, beginning with Latin regions. In radicalizing ecological criticism, it connected and gave increased focus to numerous emerging alternatives in the margins of civil society.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Russian Campaign, French Campaign 1812-1814

Bernard-Édouard Swebach, The retreat of Russia, 1838, photograph taken and posted online by Yelkrokoyade for the exhibition Les désastres de la guerre 1800-2014 [The Disasters of War 1800-2014], Musée Louvre-Lens. Loan from the musée des beaux-arts de Besançon, March 2015

Auteur-e-s

The Russian campaign that began in June 1812 and ended in mid-December was—in spite of the troops committed to it—a catastrophe for the Grande Armée, which confronted both huge logistical problems as well as the resistance and patriotism of Russian troops. In January 1814, carried by the success of the German campaign, coalition troops penetrated into France. The campaign would prove to be fierce but short. On March 31, Alexander I entered Paris, which was a prelude to Napoleon’s abdication on April 6.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Construction of the first railway routes through the Alps (1848-1882)

Monumental entrance to the Mont-Cenis tunnel, Modane, on the list of historic monuments since 1926.

The construction of railway tunnels in the Alps marked the history of Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century. The succession of construction works at Semmering (1848-1854), Mont-Cenis (1857-1871), and Gotthard (1872-1882) were carried out with the help of transfers of technology and knowledge, as well as debates among engineers. In a word, the tunnels channeled innovation onto a European scale, and at the same time embodied national ambitions and rivalries. For these reasons the construction sites became attractions, and tunnels made a lasting impression on the imagination.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Naming Themselves: A Militant Act for Feminists (1967-1991)

Banner from the Norwegian Kvinnefronten movement (Women’s front) indicating the date it was founded and its slogan “Fight against any oppression of women.”

Auteur-e-s

Feminist groups have names that often convey a political, symbolic or historical meaning. A brief overview of names from the primary independent feminist movements born in Europe between 1967 and 1991, reveal important influences and/or intentions in the struggle for women’s rights within highly different national contexts. With their revolutionary dimension, these names advocate the “liberation of women” or the inclusion of men in the feminist struggle, and thereby highlight feminism’s proximity to socialism or the hope for a democratic future after the fall of a dictatorial regime. The term “feminist” is invoked to mobilize women around a common cause. Humour and self-deprecation are also present in the choice of names for feminist movements, as is paying homage to earlier generations of militant women.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Napoleonic Europe

Napoleon raging at the news of Nelson's destruction of the french Fleet at the Battle of the Nile, 1798. Hand-coloured etching.

Heir to a Europe of sister republics to the Directory, Napoleonic Europe reached its apex in 1810-1811. It gave rise to a mosaic of more or less complete transfers of the French model, as well as a desire for dynastic integration on the part of the Bonapartes. The downward spiral of the continental system, the lack of support of certain elites, notably Catholic ones, and the Grand Empire’s weak resilience in the face of defeats beginning in 1812 account for Napoleon’s fall in 1814. Despite his affirmations at Saint Helena, the failure was due to the imperialism of the Grande Nation as embodied by the emperor.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Military service and masculinity

Infantry. Soup distribution. Postcard, France, early twentieth century (before 1914)

Auteur-e-s

From the French Revolution onwards, military service became an essential step in the process of constructing masculinity within a militarizing Europe. The military-virile model that developed, including in nations that did not practice conscription, such as the United Kingdom before 1916, was based on subjecting men to physical and mental tests, the brutality of which was supposed to ensure effectiveness. Beginning in the 1860s, changes nevertheless emerged with respect to the training undergone by young men, in an effort to humanize the treatment reserved for soldiers, and to develop their physical and intellectual capacities. This model, which was at the origin of mass armies, was tested from 1914-1920, and generally emerged strengthened from the war years, before being highly praised by authoritarian regimes. In the aftermath of World War Two, there was, if not a rejection, then at least a gradual distancing from this masculine and warlike model on the part of European youth.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail