Date & Place: Monday 8 June, at the IHR, London.
Speaker: Charlotte Faucher (QMUL)
Paper Title: From Gaullism to Anti-Gaullism: the Institut Francais du Royaume Uni during the war
Chair: Iain Stewart (QMUL)
Almost everyone knows that Charles de Gaulle lived in London during the Second World War, the city from where he led the Free French. But few are familiar with the ins and outs of his time here. Yes, he had a strenuous relationship with Churchill and the British more generally, but what about with the French in London? Those who had joined him in the British capital, and those who had already been living in London for decades?
Charlotte Faucher’s doctoral research explores this lesser known history of de Gaulle, Gaullism and anti-Gaullism in London. She does this through a unique perspective: the prism of the Institut Français du Royaume Uni, and notably its director Denis Saurat. In doing so, Charlotte Faucher explores the complicated relationship between the French in London and de Gaulle and the Free French. Whilst Saurat was initially devoted to de Gaulle and Gaullism, he inched further and further away from the French general as the war wore on. This shift from Gaullism to anti-Gaullism suggests that the relationship between London and de Gaulle was far more complex than we have traditionally imagined.
Through her study of Saurat and the French Institute, Charlotte’s research also makes a significant contribution to our understanding of cultural diplomacy. Indeed, histories of French cultural diplomacy tend to be Paris-centred – however, since the Institute was outside of France, it was not completely entangled with Parisian institutional politics. Rather, the individuals who worked in the Institute – men but also women, as Charlotte pointed out – gave them greater freedom to develop their own agenda.
All in all, Charlotte Faucher’s doctoral research is exciting, innovative and promising – we loved hearing more about it and really look forward to the book. What a great way to end the year.
See you all in autumn for the 2015-16 series of French History Seminars at the IHR!