Colloquium: Merci America! Liberation, Aid and (in)Gratitude in Post-war France

  • Date: Nov 16, 2021
  • Time: 17:00
  • Speaker: Ludivine Broch, University of Westminster
  • Location: online
  • Host: Center for the History of Emotions

The Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, led by Prof. Ute Frevert, cordially presents its winter semester 2021/2022 colloquium:

Ludivine Broch, University of Westminster

Merci America! Liberation, Aid and (In)Gratitude in Postwar France

If the liberation of France in 1944 was a moment of euphoria, enthusiasm and hope, these feelings were shortlived, soon to be replaced by trauma, loss, mourning, resentment, frustration and anger. Indeed, historians of France have revealed the complexity of those years immediately following war and occupation, showing the emerging (and even exploding) struggles and tensions within France and its empire. But what if the French were also grateful in those years? What were they grateful to? Who were they grateful for? And what does it mean to think about gratitude in the mid-twentieth century? Despite being a recurring concept in moral and religious philosophy linked to philosophies of ‘the gift’, the practice of gratitude and its role in societal relations (from the local to the international) have rarely been examined.
In her paper, Ludivine Broch studies the presence of gratitude as well as ingratitude towards America in post-war France, focussing a lot on the material, visual and textual archives of the Gratitude Train in 1949. In doing so, this paper highlights the management of emotions in transatlantic relations in the midtwentieth century, and reveals the social and political importance of both expressing and feeling gratitude in the post-war world.

Ludivine Broch is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Westminster. She is the author of Ordinary Workers: French Railwaymen, Vichy and the Holocaust (2016) published by Cambridge University Press and translated into French with Tallandier. She has edited a volume on France in the period of the World Wars, and has written several chapters and articles on the topic of rescue in the Holocaust, memory, railwaymen and colonial resisters in Vichy France. Her work has appeared in Diaspora, Contemporary European History and French Politics, Culture and Society. She is currently working on a history of material culture, emotions and international relations in postwar France which has been funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme. Broch is an editor for Contemporary European History and co-convenor of the IHR Modern French History seminar.

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Meeting number: 2744 265 3982
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