HomePolitical elites from Southern France and armed conflicts in the Mediterranean world from the French Revolution until nowadays

HomePolitical elites from Southern France and armed conflicts in the Mediterranean world from the French Revolution until nowadays

Political elites from Southern France and armed conflicts in the Mediterranean world from the French Revolution until nowadays

Les élites politiques du Sud de la France et les conflits armés en Méditerranée de la Révolution française à nos jours

Le élite politiche nella Francia meridionale di fronte ai conflitti armati nel Mediterraneo, dalla Rivoluzione francese ai nostri tempi

*  *  *

Published on Monday, August 31, 2015


This symposium’s purpose is to enlighten the particularity of the political culture of French Mediterranean elites, through an analysis of their reactions to armed conflicts in the Mediterranean world during the late modern era. It will mainly focus on representatives’behaviour during these conflicts. Bound to their political or religious beliefs, to geographical or cultural solidarities, their behaviour questions the way they do (or don’t) apply governmental policy, their management of the consequences of those conflicts on the territory, their personal commitment in favour of some of the protagonists, but also the political uses of those events and the footprints or lasting divisions they might have left in their wake.  


International Symposium held in Nice, from March the 24th to March the 25th 2016


Since 1789, countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea have been affected, at various moments, by the rise of nationalisms and by an imported and often imposed modernization process which often disrupt traditional socio-economic structures. This is one of the reasons of the many conflicts which occurred in the Mediterranean region during the late modern period. Its southern part was the theatre of numerous confrontations bound to the colonization and decolonization processes, whereas its northern part was one of the spot of the “European civil wars” which divided the old continent during the 19th and 20th century. They confront “Civilization” with “Barbary”, “Progress” with “Reaction”, “revolutionaries” or “liberals” with “counter-revolutionaries” or “conservatives”, later “communism” with “fascism” or “resistants” with “collaborators”, etc. The ideological component of these struggles partially explains their transnational dimension. It’s particularly obvious in France, one of the region main powers. Its government sometimes proclaimed a contested neutrality, for instance during the Italian events in 1860 or during the Spanish Civil War. Sometimes, it engaged actively, through diplomatic or military actions, when it was not its instigator or one of its main protagonists. Its choices provoked internal political debates, in which ordinary citizens as well as organized political forces took part. It’s especially obvious in southern France (which also included Algeria during the colonial era), the land, via the Alpes or the Pyrénées, or maritime interface  with the other parts of the Mediterranean region. Especially in the border areas, the Meridional space appeared accordingly as a rear base through which transited material help and warriors, or as a shelter, at least for a time, for the victims of those conflicts, ordinary citizens or fighters.

The study of local political elites (mainly representatives such as majors, departmental representatives or members of Parliament) gives major insights into those kinds of commitments to Mediterranean conflicts. Their activities drove them to cope with the various impacts which could have affected their territory. In the same time, their political or religious commitment, their union involvement, their geographical or cultural sympathies (such as representatives from French Catalonia for instance) often turned them into major actors of the transnational solidarities which expressed themselves during those events. Organized by ANR ICEM, which studies identities and cultures of political elites in Mediterranean France in the late modern period, this symposium wants to illuminate their part in those circumstances, and particularly to enlighten to which degree these elites show a specific sensitivity to these conflicts. To this end, we will prioritize the following perspectives, which can be added or linked together:

The political elites, intermediary agents between the State and the local inhabitants

Political elites were sometimes a transmission belt for governmental policies. This was especially the case for public servants such as judges, military officers, members of prefectural administration, and for the persons, sometimes the same one, who had been elected, such as majors or members of Parliament. All these people were often given the task to collect information, to watch, or to locally implement governmental measures: hosting refugees, installation of utility services, etc. These actions were sometimes transitory, however is it possible that they foreshadow in more than one occasion developments of state actions, in matters such as population control or social action for instance? Political elites were not only transmissions belts, but also go-between for the State and the population. Having to explain, to justify or to criticize the governmental policy to the inhabitants, they also provided Paris with their concerns, which sometimes contributed to change state policy. The parliamentary forum is of particular interest in this respect, but petitions, addresses or rapports written or spread by political elites can also be taken into account. The study of these topics can be underlied by a reflexion upon the impact of these links between State and local political actors, upon the latter’ integration into a national political culture, or on the contrary upon the assertion in these circumstances of a Meridional peculiarity.

Political elites and managing the consequences of the conflicts

Political elites could also act without state guidance, or even could be opposed to a national policy which goes against their beliefs, when these conflicts consequences were particularly dramatic in southern France. They sometimes threatened some economic activities, favored others – sometimes illicit ones. The transit of volunteers or the short or long-lasting settlement of refugees also had major socio-economic consequences. How did the elites handle these obligations, these peculiar problems? As far as mayors are concerned, we might think of the question of death certificates for refugees or other foreigners moving across their district. These consequences can be analyzed in the short duration of paroxysmal events as well as in long duration. The ways those elites coped with these situations, as well as the interactions between these new tasks and the other representatives’ obligations, should be questioned. We will particularly consider any insight upon the way these activities altered their relationship with the national power and the military authorities, or even made them establish contacts with protagonists from neighbouring countries at war.

Political elites participation in those conflicts

Political elites from southern France could also take sides in those conflicts. Their implication was sometimes linked to their official duties, other times was entirely a private matter. Thus must be taken into account not only the actions of representatives while they were holding a mandate, but also their behaviour before or after their mandate, or the actions of major Meridional political actors such as journalists, local political leaders, etc. Those commitments expressed themselves differently, synchronically and diachronically. Political elites sometimes just expressed orally their views, but to what end, and, for instance, could it have been only part of an election strategy ? Their involvement was also sometimes deeper, leading sometimes to a departure abroad, through military or humanitarian involvements. We shall ask for the framework in which they left, and to what extent their experience became afterwards a key component of their relationship to politics, or even a electoral argument. Their commitment could also have taken other forms, such as organizing rallies, strikes, raising funds, collecting various goods or giving some administrative papers. Particularly in border areas, these actions often implied ties with political elites from other Mediterranean countries. Their commitments might have been more or less formalized, some were mostly individual, others took part within collective structures, which might have lasting influence over their social bonds, their electoral networks or their political actions. Is it possible, through these various questions, to highlight a specific political culture from southern representatives, characterized by a peculiar interest for the Mediterranean world ? In that respect, the study of representatives’ speeches might be of great interest, as well as the analysis of their commitments in national or transnational networks, or of their relationships with political actors from the rest of the Mediterranean world.

Political elites and the conflicts memory

Could this specific culture of Mediterranean political elites also have an affect on collective memory, especially when a significant part of their constituents or of their ancestors was involved in those conflicts ? Are they lasting references from the elites to past conflicts, and to their deeds, or to those of their ancestors or of their political party ? We can think of published memories, narratives, or other autobiographical pieces. Studies of commemorations, of street names, of statues or more generally of places of memory would be welcomed, as well as analysis of subsidies given to communities or   memory organizations. We could in particular question representatives’ efforts to keep alive the troubled memories of the past, or on the contrary their will to soothen spirits, and ask if these behaviours are linked to their political beliefs. 19th and 20th Spanish civil wars or more recently the Algerian War of Independence could lead to substantial analysis. Comparative approaches would also be welcomed. They could make historical or geographical comparisons, between memories of various conflicts, or between memories which appear in southern France and those which can be noticed in other parts or France or in neighbouring countries, and especially in the country where the conflict took place.

Even if biographical studies might be of great interest, we are mostly looking for collective studies, devoted to solidarities and antagonisms which arose between political elites, or between them and the national government.  These common points or these divisions might be the consequences of political beliefs, of geographical, religious or cultural solidarities, etc. We will be particularly interested in approaches confirming (or contradicting) the existence of (a) distinctive Mediterranean political culture(s).

Submission guidelines

Contribution proposals must be sent, preferably in French, to pierre.triomphe34@orange.fr and j-p.pellegrinetti@orange.fr

They should not exceed a thousand words and must describe briefly their historical sources.

Proposals can be made until October the 20th.

Applicants will be given an answer by the organizing committee before November the 15th.

The organizing committee will provide catering costs and lodging expenses for two nights. Travel fees will be paid by the intervenant or his laboratory.

Scientific committee

  • Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire (CMMC, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis),
  • Jean-Claude Caron (CHEC, Université de Clermont-Ferrand),
  • Bruno Dumons (LARHRA, CNRS Lyon),
  • Jean-Marie Guillon (TELEMME, Université Aix-Marseille),
  • Jean-Paul Pellegrinetti (CMMC, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis),
  • Claire Marynower (IEP Grenoble),
  • Simon Sarlin (ISP, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense),
  • Pierre Triomphe (CRISES, Université Paul Valéry-Montpellier III)

Supporting research centers

  • ANR ICEM ; CMMC (Université Nice Sophia Antipolis) ;
  • CRISES (Université Paul Valéry-Montpellier III) ;
  • TELEMME (Aix-Marseille Université)


  • 98 bd Edouard Herriot
    Nice, France (06)


  • Tuesday, October 20, 2015


  • élites, guerre


  • Jean-Paul Pellegrinetti
    courriel : j-p [dot] pellegrinetti [at] orange [dot] fr
  • Pierre Triomphe
    courriel : pierre [dot] triomphe34 [at] orange [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Adeline Beaurepaire-Hernandez
    courriel : adeline [dot] beaurepairehernandez [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Political elites from Southern France and armed conflicts in the Mediterranean world from the French Revolution until nowadays », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, August 31, 2015, https://doi.org/10.58079/t6m

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search