Free France in the Mediterranean 1940-1945. Enemies, threats, rivalries. 8 and 9 June.

Poster of the study days
Journées d'étude

A large part of the current renewal in the historiography of Gaullism during the war can be explained by the shifting focus of historians: Free France is no longer just an organisation in exile in London, it is now studied as an archipelago of colonial territories between which General de Gaulle and his subordinates are trying to provoke political, military, economic and cultural movements in the name of refusing defeat and keeping France in the Second World War.

The aim of this conference is to shed light on the Mediterranean phase of Free France (1940-1945). As a political laboratory where the global conflict fuelled nationalism and provoked a crisis in the structures of colonial domination, the Mediterranean area was not only a front for the Free French in their colonial civil wars against Vichy, but also the only region in the world where the Free French Forces were in direct and permanent confrontation with the Axis forces (particularly the Italians).

Finally, the Mediterranean was the interface with Southern Europe through which the new authorities set up in Algiers between 1943 and 1944 sought, on the one hand, to reduce their dependence on the Allies with a view to liberating Western Europe and, on the other, to stem the crisis into which the colonial systems of the Middle East and North Africa were sinking.

In partnership with the Cercle des Chercheurs sur le Moyen-Orient and the Centre d'Histoire de Sciences Po Paris, with the support of King's College (London) and the Society for the History of War.

Download the programme in PDF

Collège de France.
11 place Marcellin Berthelot, 75005 Paris
8 and 9 June



Public entrance

Opening remarks by François CECCALDI, Collège de France / CCMO, Nathalie GENET-ROUFFIAC, Head of the Historical Department of Defence

9h45-10h15 | Scientific introductions

Free France was also Mediterranean
Guillaume Piketty, Sciences Po Paris

Crossed memories of the Free French in the Levant
Franck Mermier, CNRS /CCMO

10h30-13h | Panel 1

The Mediterranean (1940-1943), a laboratory for the organisation of new forces

Chair: Manon-Nour Tannous, University of Reims-Champagne-Ardennes/CCMO

Mary Spears and Marguerite Catroux: gender, humanitarianism and political rivalries
Laure Humbert, Manchester University

British, Free French and Vichyist cross-propaganda in and about the Levant (1940-1945)
Rachel Chin, University of Glasgow

Dissidences in Free France, between Lebanon and Syria, 1940-1941
Jérôme Bocquet, University of Tours

The Mediterranean, a laboratory for a renewed relationship of authority for the Free French Forces?
Robin Leconte, École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay

Bourguiba, Neo-Destour and Free France: American mediation
Vincent Geisser, CNRS/ IREMAM

1pm-2pm | Lunch break

14h-16h | Panel n° 2

The Mediterranean (1940-1943), a laboratory for new alliances and new fighting practices

Chair: Walter Bruyere-Ostells, Sciences Po Aix/Director of Research at the Service Historique de la Défense

Confronting Enemies in North Africa: The Free French, Vichy and Italian Forces
Karine Varley, University of Strathclyde

British Policy and Strategy towards Greece and its Forces in exile, 1941-44
Christina Goulter, King's College

Desire for war and rescue in the Mediterranean: the Free French Naval Forces and the Jews of Castellorizzo (September - October 1943)
Géraud Létang, Defence Historical Service

Free French and soldiers of the African Army in Italy (1944), rivals ready for anything?
Julie Le Gac, University of Paris-Nanterre

16h-16h15 | Break

16h15-17h30 | Round Table 1

The Mediterranean, a scale for thinking about Empires and circulation?

Moderated by: Valérie Stiegler, Collège de France/CCMO, Arthur Asseraf, Cambridge University Guillaume Calafat, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, Nina Valbousquet, École Française de Rome


9h15-11h15 | Panel n° 3

The Mediterranean (1942-1945), a laboratory for decolonisation and the Liberation

Chair: Esther Möller, Leibniz Institut für Europaïsche Geschichte / Sciences Po Paris (Alfred Grosser Chair 2022-2023)

Acting alone or as part of a network? The 'resistance' of Major Robert Wender and the Algerian Affairs Service (1941-1943)
Aliénor Cadiot, University of Saint-Etienne

The Free French faced with the purge and the revival of nationalism in Morocco (1943-1946)
Guillaume Denglos, Institute for Advanced Studies in National Defence

Crossing the Mediterranean, returning to the mother country? The Free French in the Provence landings (1943-1944)
Claire Miot, Sciences Po Aix

Logics of Empire and the anti-colonial struggle: Syria 1943-1945
Matthieu Rey, Institut Français du Proche-Orient

11.15-11.30 a.m. | Break

11:30-12:30 | Round-table 2

Gaullism put to the test in the "complicated East

Dialogue between Henry Laurens (Collège de France) and Hervé Gaymard (Fondation Charles de Gaulle/ Académie 
de Gaulle/ Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques).


Last modification on 31/05/2023