Dr Ludivine Broch
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I was awarded a DPhil from the University of Oxford in 2010. My doctoral thesis, funded by the AHRC, explored the role of French railway workers during the German Occupation of France (1940-44). Since then, I have taught at Birkbeck and the University of Bristol, and was awarded an Early Career Research Fellowship at the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck and a Max Weber Fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence.
In September 2014, I joined the University of Westminster as a Lecturer in History. I am also Reviews Editor for the Journal of Contemporary History ; an associate fellow of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism ; co-conveor for the Modern French History seminar at the IHR ; co-founder of the French History Network and manage its blog for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers.
I have taught widely on Modern European History, focussing mostly on the twentieth century. In the past I have developed courses on Vichy France, France and the 'Other', the Holocaust in the Postwar World and Genocide in the 20th Century.
At Westminster, I lead three modules at Level 5 :
- Democracy and Dictatorship
- Writing History
- History Internship
I also teach at Levels 4, 5 and 6 on :
- Blood and Iron
- Conflict and Commemoration
- Jack the Ripper
- Divided Society
I am a historian of twentieth-century France, specialising in Vichy France; social history; the history and memory of the world wars ; the Holocaust ; French politics, society and culture in the twentieth century. I am happy to supervise students in any of these areas.
My monograph, Ordinary Workers: French Railwaymen, Vichy and the Holocaust, was published by Cambridge University Press (English) in June 2016, and was translated in French with Tallandier in September 2016. It de-sanctifies the myth of French railway men as heroic resisters and saboteurs - erected by films such as La Bataille du Rail (1945) - and reveals the daily life of these workers who accommodated with the Vichy regime, cohabitated with the Germans and stole from their employer. Moreover, by intertwining the history of the working-classes with Holocaust history, I reveal unexpected histories and sensitive memories of Vichy France and the postwar period.
I am currently working on two different research projects, both of which stem from my desire to better understand the complexity of French identity, society and culture around the Second World War.
The first is a history of objects: in 1948-49 the French gifted approximately 50,000 gifts from ordinary people to the Americans. These gifts were transported and distributed across America in 49 boxcars. The Merci (or Gratitude) Train was seen as a symbol of gratitude for American aid - indeed, in 1947-48, France had received thousands of tons of food from ordinary Americans who wanted to help the poor and starving peoples of Europe. However, a history of these objects reveals a much more complicated reality: far from being symbols of gratitude, they represented a powerful statement of cultural superiority and military strength. In fact, the more you explore these objects and the histories of the trains they are associated with, the more you being to notice the complexity of French postwar identity, and the tensions between high and low politics in both France and America.
The second project is entitled ‘Being Black Under Vichy’. It argues that Jews were not the only victims of racial persecution between 1940 and 1944, and that Vichy France was not colour-blind. Laws targeting Jews to ride in the last carriage of the metro, to stay within the limits of the demarcation line, and to give up their professions in the arts, were also applied to ‘negroes’. But what lies beyond these laws? My project aims to explore the experiences of ‘black’, or ‘non-white’, men and women in the French métropole - in politics, in POW camps, in work camps, in the resistance, at the liberation. In doing so will it also aims to see to what extent do the histories of blacks and Jews intertwine during this period.
Both projects expose the conservative underbelly of French society in the 1940s. They reveal much about individual and collective identities, and about regional and colonial anxieties of the time. I am currently working on two articles based on each project, but will develop each project separately in due course.