Miners, masculinity and the ‘Bataille du Charbon’ in France 1944-48

Hanna Diamond

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In 1944, the French provisional government, backed by the Parti communiste franais and the Confdration gnrale du travail, undertook an aggressive propaganda campaign to persuade miners to embark upon a 'battle for coal' which raised their efforts in extracting coal to that of a national endeavour. At the same time, miners had great hopes that nationalisation of the coal industry, under discussion at this time, would bring significant improvement to their working lives. In identifying the ways in which publicists posited miners as an ideal of working-class manhood, this article will argue that 'la bataille du charbon' marks a crucial moment in the celebration of working-class masculinity and that the 'statut des mineurs' which was passed in 1946 as a part of nationalisation enshrined many of the existing gender assumptions about mining life. What does an incorporation of gender to an analysis of the treatment of miners in the years 1944-1948 add to our understandings of the various economic, political and social dynamics around 'la bataille du charbon'? How do these insights inform our perceptions of French coalfield societies in the mid-twentieth century?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-84
Number of pages16
JournalModern and Contemporary France
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


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