A More Perfect French Union: France’s Newest Citizens and the Making of the Fourth Republic
The Fourth Republic featured not only new representatives from France’s former colonies but also women voters and politicians for the first time, making for extraordinarily diverse legislative bodies in an era before decolonization and the worldwide civil rights movement. I will examine how women, African and Antillean representatives, participated in parliamentary debates, including Deputy Gerty Archimède of Guadeloupe and Senator Eugénie Eboué-Tell of Guyana, to understand how issues of women’s citizenship and civil status intersected with questions of labor, education, and health, so central to the expanded social welfare programs of the time. The Fourth Republic has been criticized for its weak presidential structure and inability to resolve the decolonization crisis. France’s newest citizens were key shapers of policy at the time, raising questions about how their presence affected how the Fourth Republic has been remembered or, in many ways, forgotten in history.
See more of: AHA Sessions