French academic Alexis Lycas has just published a book on mediaeval China which counters the popularly-held notion of a Chinese state with a linear, unbroken and united history stretching into the distant past. The historian says that following the creation of its empire more than 2,000 years ago, China has been “divided for longer than it's been than united”. This approach is more than simply fascinating scholarly history; it also provides a valuable insight into the myth-making historical narrative of the current Chinese regime. François Bougon spoke to Alexis Lycas, who has been taking part in the 'L’histoire à venir' festival in south-west France, an event in which Mediapart is a partner.
The French government has become embroiled in a dispute with the independent public body responsible for overseeing the rights of people held in custody or prison. That body, the Contrôleur Général des Lieux de Privation de Liberté, inspected custody conditions in nine Paris police stations during the height of the anti-pension reforms demonstration in March. In a subsequent report it has criticised what it calls “serious infringements” of the rights of those being held and the “repressive use” of custody by the police. The interior minister Gérald Darmanin has hit back, claiming the controller general has “exceeded her jurisdiction”, while the Paris police chief said he felt “insulted”. Mediapart's Célia Mebroukine spoke to the controller general, Dominique Simonnot, about the controversy.
While the overall inflation rate in France over the 12 months up to March this year was 5.6%, food prices over the same period rose by 15.8%, according to a provisional estimation by France's National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. In this interview with Mediapart, economist Florence Jany-Catrice sets out how inflation, beyond creating a fall in purchasing power, is also driving a further rise in social inequalities.
In a new book, French academic Édouard Morena traces the emergence of climate class consciousnesses among the world's economic elites. According to the senior lecturer, the ultra-rich have become key players in the debate on climate change so they can promote green capitalism and guarantee their own financial interests. He spoke to Mickaël Correia.
Belgian judge Michel Claise is leading the investigation into the snowballing corruption scandal rocking the European Parliament in Brussels, and which has already led to the downfall and imprisonment of a now former vice president of the chamber. In this interview with Mediapart, the veteran investigating magistrate, specialised in financial crime, details the extent to which corruption and organised crime are out of control in Europe, and slams the lack of resources to fight it. “When you touch on dirty money, and when that involves the political world, people become transformed into wild animals,” he says.
Earlier this month judges in Paris dismissed a legal case brought by residents from the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe over the widespread use of the pesticide chlordecone which has polluted local ecosystems. The Green mayor of Pointe-à-Pitrre in Guadeloupe, Harry Durimel, who is also a lawyer acting for victims of the pesticide, has announced his intention to appeal. In an interview with Mediapart's Mickaël Correia, he talks about the harmful impact of the court ruling – including on how France's overseas citizens will now view the French state.
The prestigious Angoulème International Comics Festival has cancelled its planned showcasing in January of the works of acclaimed French graphic novel artist Bastien Vivès, following strong protest that some of his works promote paedophilia and incest, which he denies. In an interview with Mediapart, French magistrate Édouard Durand, co-president of a newly created “independent commission on incest and sexual violence towards children”, says the outcry illustrates a new public awareness about the extent of the sexual abuse of children, and says cartoon portrayal of the subject is “unbearable for all child victims and the adults they have become, unbearable for everyone who understand what they live through”.
The war in Ukraine has both demonstrated and heightened the dependence of European countries on US military support, while also creating divisions in their defence strategies, notably between Germany and France. In this interview with Justine Brabant, retired French army lieutenant general Jean-Paul Perruche, who served at a senior level in NATO and as director general of the European Union military staff, offers his analysis of the challenges now facing Europe. He argues why it must build a structure to allow for common military autonomy with pragmatic plans to deal with future threats. “It’s really quite pitiful that we are incapable of doing anything, whereas we have four times the budget of the Russians,” he says. “It’s tragic.”
France is grappling with the consequences of a series of successive heatwaves this summer, aggravated by record drought conditions which began in winter, leading to massive wildfires, a fall in energy production, and tumbling crop yields. While weather predictions suggest this autumn will see notably violent storms, these are expected to have little effect on the refilling of phreatic zones. Mediapart turned to French hydrologist Emma Haziza to explore what must change to ensure the future supply and protection of water.
In this interview with Mediapart, Yale University professor of history Timothy Snyder, a specialist on eastern European history and notably Ukraine, author of Bloodlands, his internationally acclaimed book about mass murders in central and eastern Europe beginning in the 1930s, argues why he believes Russia’s war against Ukraine amounts to genocide in the full legal sense of the term. He also sketches Ukraine’s long history of resistance to oppression, the singular character of its society, and why it is vital for the future Europe, and even Russia, that Ukraine wins the war.