Interviews

  • 'Away with fatalism, it's time to grasp hope': a call to political arms by Stéphane Hessel and Edgar Morin

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    Stéphane Hessel and Edgar Morin (pictured) formed a formidable couple when they launched, here on Mediapart, a joint appeal to candidates in France’s 2012 presidential elections. The pair, then aged 90 and 94 respectively, had lived through similar experiences: Hessel was a German naturalised French, former WWII Resistance fighter, survivor of Nazi concentration camps, while Morin, widely acclaimed as one of Europe's greatest 20th-century thinkers, was born to immigrant parents and also fought in the Resistance movement. In this tribute to Hessel, who died overnight on Tuesday, Mediapart republishes the text and video of their outline for a "path of hope" for a new society that shuns "the futile, the disposable, and the wasteful”, an end to economic policies "driving us to disaster", and for a return to values of social responsibility.

  • French Socialist Party economics guru sees a middle road out of crisis

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     © Harvard University © Harvard University

    Philippe Aghion is a senior economics advisor to François Hollande, the Socialist Party candidate in the French presidential elections due next spring. This Harvard university professor thinks he knows how to address the economic crisis in Europe, with a new approach to industry and innovation driven by a state-led strategy. The ideas he details in this interview with Ludovic Lamant may become, if Hollande becomes president, the lynchpin of the next French government's economic policies.

  • President Sarkozy 'bullied African leaders into deals with billionaire friend Bolloré'

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    The former head of an international maritime port management company has accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of bullying African governments into entering into contracts with the Groupe Bolloré, headed by the president's close friend Vincent Bolloré. In an exclusive interview with Mediapart, Jacques Dupuydauby (photo), who recently retired as chairman of Franco-Spanish group Progosa, says French-speaking West African leaders personally told him how President Sarkozy threatened them with a withdrawal of French support unless they agreed to hand lucrative port management concessions to the Groupe Bolloré. He describes the French president as Bolloré's "high-class travelling salesman", adding: "Under Sarkozy, the message is ‘If you don't do what we ask in giving such and such a thing to Bolloré, you will no longer be able to count on France's support'"
  • What's pushing angry Chinese onto the streets of Paris

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    Earlier this summer, thousands of Paris' ethnic Chinese community took to the streets of Belleville, a district in the north of the capital, to call for increased security in the wake of escalating violence against them, including regular street assaults and robberies. The extent of the violence has alarmed community leaders and there is growing anger among this normally discreet population at what is perceived as insufficient concern by the authorities. Carine Fouteau talks to Emmanuel Ma Mung, a France-based expert on international migration and the Chinese diaspora, about the economic and social issues that are turning a once calm multi-cultural neighbourhood into a powder keg.

  • French writer Tereska Torrès, unlikely icon of lesbian pulp fiction, dies aged 92

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    French writer Tereska Torrès (pictured), best-known in the English-speaking world for her novel Women’s Barracks, has died in Paris at the age of 92, her family and friends announced on Monday. Torrès, whose death occurred on September 20th, was the author of 14 books, the first written when she was just 17 years-old, many of them translated into English by her second husband, the late US writer and journalist Meyer Levin. Born in Paris as Tereska Szwarc to Jewish Polish artist parents, Torrès fled to London in 1940 to escape the German occupation of France, where she enrolled in the Free French Forces and married a French Resistance fighter, Georges Torrès, who was killed in battle in 1944. Perhaps the strangest chapter in her eventful life was how her book about her experiences as a woman soldier in wartime London, Women’s Barracks, became a bestseller and a pillar of lesbian pulp fiction. Last year, Torrès produced a new version in French, when Antoine Perraud interviewed her about her multiple lives and extraordinary relationships, which we republish here.

  • The social facts and sexual fantasies that made the French maid 'la soubrette'

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    Yva Richard, vers 1930. Yva Richard, vers 1930.

    La soubrette is an evocative term for French maids rooted in 19th-century French bourgeois culture whereby female domestics were also, both in fantasy and reality, a wealthy household's sexual servant. Camille Favre, an expert in 19th- and 20th- century erotic literature in France, tells Joseph Confavreux how the soubrette became a figure of eroticism and pornography, and the social practices that lay behind the image.

  • IMF 'no longer adapted to the global economy'

     © dr © dr

    Brazil is one of the world's rising economic powers, and a new and vigorous force on the international scene where it has championed the demand that emerging nations be given a greater role in international governance, notably in the current race of candidates to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Here, Sebastião Velasco (photo), a renowned Brazilian professor of political sciences and international relations, charts the evolution of Brazil into one of the world's largest democracies and fast-growing economic powers, and analyses its role in promoting a new world order.

  • Anything but civil: Vichy's servants of persecution

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    The painful history of the Vichy administration's collaboration with the Nazi occupation continues to fascinate even the younger generation of French historians. In a recently-published book, Laurent Joly, 34, details how France's public servants became the tools of the persecution and deportation of French Jews, divided into two separate administratiive bodies that were major cogs in the process of the Holocaust. He talks here to Antoine Perraud about those who formed a monstrous machine.
  • Sexual harassment and the 'before and after DSK' effect on France

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    During an appearance before New York's Supreme Court on Monday, former IMF chief and French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn entered a plea of ‘not guilty' to charges that he sexually assaulted and attempted to rape a maid at a Manhattan hotel. Whatever the outcome of the case, for which Strauss-Kahn is next due in court on July 18th, it has already sparked a passionate national debate in France over what many see as a compliant culture towards the abusive behaviour of men in power. Here, Joseph Confavreux interviews one of France's leading specialists in moral and sexual harassment, the US-trained psychiatrist Marie-France Hirigoyen (photo), who explains why she believes there will be "a before and an after DSK" effect on French public attitudes to a problem until now taboo.

  • The philosophy shining behind the work of Stanley Kubrick

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     © Warner Bros Entertainment © Warner Bros Entertainment

    Ever wondered what links German philosophers Nietzsche and Heidegger with axe-wielding hotel winter caretaker Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson, pictured) in Stanley Kubrick's all-time great horror movie The Shining? A book just published in France throws fresh light on US film director Kubrick's phenomenal works, including Doctor Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Full Metal Jacket, by focusing on the philosophical ideas behind the US director's fascination with the contradictions and ambivalence of humankind. Its author, Sam Azulys, tells Clément Sénéchal why Kubrick's films are "a dialectical springboard".