Practicing Prejudice in French Law and Medicine, 1920-1945

eBook - 2012
Rate this:
Cornell University Press

In the 1930s, the French Third Republic banned naturalized citizens from careers in law and medicine for up to ten years after they had obtained French nationality. In 1940, the Vichy regime permanently expelled all lawyers and doctors born of foreign fathers and imposed a 2 percent quota on Jews in both professions. On the basis of extensive archival research, Julie Fette shows in Exclusions that doctors and lawyers themselves, despite their claims to embody republican virtues, persuaded the French state to enact this exclusionary legislation. At the crossroads of knowledge and power, lawyers and doctors had long been dominant forces in French society: they ran hospitals and courts, doubled as university professors, held posts in parliament and government, and administered justice and public health for the nation. Their social and political influence was crucial in spreading xenophobic attitudes and rendering them more socially acceptable in France.

Fette traces the origins of this professional protectionism to the late nineteenth century, when the democratization of higher education sparked efforts by doctors and lawyers to close ranks against women and the lower classes in addition to foreigners. The legislatively imposed delays on the right to practice law and medicine remained in force until the 1970s, and only in 1997 did French lawyers and doctors formally recognize their complicity in the anti-Semitic policies of the Vichy regime. Fette's book is a powerful contribution to the argument that French public opinion favored exclusionary measures in the last years of the Third Republic and during the Holocaust.

Julie Fette shows in Exclusions that doctors and lawyers persuaded the French state to enact exclusionary legislation banning naturalized citizens from careers in law and medicine for up to ten years after they had obtained French nationality.

Book News
This study explores the exclusion of foreigners, lower classes and women from French medical and legal professions from the late nineteenth century through World War II. Fette (French studies, Rice U.) has thoroughly researched this damning historical account of the factors leading to and the expression of xenophobic, aristocratic, misogynistic and eventually antisemitic policies in France. Full of the doctors and lawyers own voices arguing for these "protections", the text sheds new light on current immigration and national identity struggles. Often assumed to be an aberration, the Vichy reign's deportation of foreign born doctors in 1940 is shown to have evidence of a history of exclusionary practices, some of which remain today in these professions, long thought to be paragons of meritocratic opportunity. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: Ithaca : Cornell University Press, Ă2012
ISBN: 9780801463990
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xi, 314 pages)
data file,rda


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at WPL

To Top