Wartime Rupture and Reconfiguration in French Family Life: Experience and Legacy

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Abstract

‘Wartime Rupture and Reconfiguration in French Family Life: Experience and Legacy’, by Lindsey Dodd Family separation is a widespread consequence of war, particularly war which targets civilian populations. This article draws on oral history narratives recorded by the author with French people who became child evacuees or refugees in France during the Second World War. All ended up in the département of the Creuse, in central France, hosted by people with whom they had no previous connection. Experiences of family rupture and reconfiguration have been considered by psychologists, but rarely by historians. As children live their lives mainly in the domestic sphere, close examination of their wartime worlds gives insight into the indirect effects of conflict on the youngest members of society. I argue that the experience of the Second World War must be understood as profound and lasting, even among those who did not experience combat, persecution or aggression directly. My case studies complicate understandings of family separation as a wholly negative experience for children in war, without compromising sensitivity to the nuances of individual difference. And I show the power of subjective retrospective sources to reveal the legacy of war inside commemorative actions situated well below national levels, which go unacknowledged in studies focused on the ‘collective’ or ‘cultural’ memory of the period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-152
Number of pages19
JournalHistory Workshop Journal
Volume88
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2019

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