Public Space and Confrontation

in The Heroic City

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226870236
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226870175 | DOI:
Public Space and Confrontation

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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In the fifteen years after World War II, from 1945 to 1959, the eastern part of Paris was characterized by an intense political militancy derived from the Resistance and Liberation. August 1944 was construed as the “triumph of the people” and the hope for a utopian social republic. The dark days of the occupation were swept away, and suddenly real revolution seemed possible. This chapter focuses on the messiness of political practices, civil resistance and violence as spatial strategies, and the conditions under which the spaces of Paris could be occupied and by whom. It examines three examples of the political use of public space. First, strikes and protests over social conditions and the cold war dominated the spaces of Paris in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Secondly, the housing crisis was one of the most contentious political issues of this entire period and spilled out into the public domain, particularly in the mid-1950s. Thirdly, the violent struggle over decolonization that reverberated in the capital ultimately led to the downfall of the Fourth Republic.

Keywords: Paris; militancy; civil resistance; violence; public space; strikes; protests; housing crisis; decolonization; Fourth Republic

Chapter.  21712 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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