Paris and the Global University

Elizabeth Marcus
Home Organization

Department of French, Stanford University

Visiting Organization

Centre Maurice Halbwachs, EHESS, Paris

Elizabeth Marcus

My research project looks at a new and untapped archive at the Cité internationale Universitaire, an international residential campus in the Parisian outskirts. I will examine how this site became a crucible of left and right-wing transnational political and cultural activism during the Trente Glorieuses (1945-1975), a period often only considered through the lens of post-war economic expansion. Set up in the aftermath of WWI by the rector of the Sorbonne, the “Cité U” was part of a mounting European investment in internationalism, foreshadowing the post-WW2 growth of international organizations based in Paris (e.g. UNESCO and OECD). Far from a simple dormitory, the Cité U drew the brightest students from Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia, Latin America and Europe into a new context, welcoming students who fraternized, organized and came into conflict with others whom they would never have otherwise met. There students formed new and unexpected south-north and south-south relationships; Cambodian Khmer Rouge members, for example, agitated alongside sub-Saharan African, American, Tunisian, Belgian and Argentinian students. These cross-regional actors moreover marked the ways in which the Cité U became a major site of Cold War politics, as it aggressively competed with student recruitment led by the US and the USSR over the future generation of post-war and post-colonial leaders. The fellowship will allow me to work in these archives, where I will begin to trace the trajectories of residents, including their return home. This will help me tell the story of how these temporary migrants were intrinsic to and constitutive of the restless political, social and aesthetic landscape of post-war reconstruction and decolonization.

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