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Mary Dewhurst Lewis
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA 02138-3800)
The Company of Strangers: Immigration and Citizenship in Interwar France

This book project provides a new understanding of French citizenship and citizenship more generally by analyzing, explaining, and considering the legacy of the uneven distribution of rights among immigrants in France between the First and Second World Wars. The study brings together a wide variety of archival resources to show that rights emerged from complex and changing sets of relationships among state authorities, employers, labor unions, consulates, and of courses the immigrants themselves. By understanding rights as dependent on such dynamic interactions, rather than solely on legal prescriptions, the book makes two major contributions to the study of citizenship in Europe: First, it demonstrates that diverse immigrant groups simultaneously negotiated vastly different social rights in France despite legal standards intended to ensure their equal treatment. Second, it highlights change over time, by bringing to life the social and economic relationships that worked to constrict rights in the late 1930s even before legislation was enacted with this intention. This approach is important not only because it depicts a narrowing of social and civil rights that perhaps foretold the abandonment of political liberalism in late 1930s France, but it is equally so for the light it sheds on challenges that Europeans continue to face today, both within France and in an enlarging European Union.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
European History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2004 – 6/30/2005