Edited By Flocel Sabaté
Identities on the Move, Foreign and Colonial Students in France (20th century – 1960s): Caroline Barrera
Centre Universitaire Jean-François Champollion
From the XIX century to the 1960s France received a growing number of students, from the colonies and from other countries as well, going from 585 students in 1885 to 5000 in 1910, 17,000 in 1931, and 10,000 in 1950; from 6 per cent in 1890 to 10 per cent from 1908 to 1940. What happened to these students in terms of identity is complex; first of all of course, because they were youngsters, constructing their lives. Second of all, because there were different kinds of study trips and each of them involved different problems. In the case of students who were simply on a study trip, and would be going back to their own countries, what was most important was the influence this student’s travel might have on their homeland, for example, regarding political or economic modernization. When dealing with exiled students, students who were traveling under pressure, their identities were more subject to being seduced by the host country, especially if it was more democratic and there was more freedom.
In both cases, they were confronted with the local culture and the need to affirm their own identities while living in France. It’s a typical problem but this inner confrontation was complex because of what France represented to these foreign guests. On one hand, they had been welcomed in the universities since the XIX century, according to the country’s foreign policy at the...
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