Postprint version. Published in Historical Reflections, Volume 37, Issue 1, Spring April 1, 2011, pages 60-90.
Copyright © 2011 Berghahn Journals.
The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/hrrh.2011.370104.
This article looks at French Indochina, metropolitan France, and French West Africa from 1914 through 1946 to illustrate specific ways in which French colonial authority operated across the French empire. We look at how colonized people challenged the complex formal and informal hierarchies of race, class, and gender that French administrators and colonizers sought to impose upon them. We argue that both the French imperial prerogatives and colonized peoples' responses to them are revealed through directly comparing and contrasting various locales across the empire. Our case studies explore interracial families and single white women seeking compensation from the French in Indochina, black men de ning their masculinity, and Africans debating women's suffrage rights.