Regeneration through Empire


Regeneration through Empire

French Pronatalists and Colonial Settlement in the Third Republic

Margaret Cook Andersen

France Overseas: Studies in Empire and Decolonization Series

344 pages
2 illustrations, 3 tables


January 2015


$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2015


$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2015


$55.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Following France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–71, French patriots feared that their country was in danger of becoming a second-rate power in Europe. Decreasing birth rates had largely slowed French population growth, and the country’s population was not keeping pace with that of its European neighbors. To regain its standing in the European world, France set its sights on building a vast colonial empire while simultaneously developing a policy of pronatalism to reverse these demographic trends. Though representing distinct political movements, colonial supporters and pronatalist organizations were born of the same crisis and reflected similar anxieties concerning France’s trajectory and position in the world.

Regeneration through Empire explores the intersection between colonial lobbyists and pronatalists in France’s Third Republic. Margaret Cook Andersen argues that as the pronatalist movement became more organized at the end of the nineteenth century, pronatalists increasingly understood their demographic crisis in terms that transcended the boundaries of the metropole and began to position the French empire, specifically its colonial holdings in North Africa and Madagascar, as a key component in the nation’s regeneration. Drawing on an array of primary sources from French archives, Regeneration through Empire is the first book to analyze the relationship between depopulation and imperialism.

Author Bio

Margaret Cook Andersen is an assistant professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


"Regeneration through Empire is important in that it emphasizes the connections between pronatalist and imperial politics, thus bringing together two major concerns that commanded much political and cultural attention during the Third Republic."—Cheryl A. Koos, Contemporary French Civilization

“Andersen convincingly demonstrates the integral ways in which pronatalism influenced France’s colonial strategizing and, correspondingly, how the demographics of empire influenced pronatalist plans. Original, fascinating, and well written.”—Carolyn Eichner, associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and author of Surmounting the Barricades: Women in the Paris Commune

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. France’s “Supreme Chance”: Migration and Pronatalist Visions of Empire
2. Recruiting Colonial Settlers: The Union Coloniale Française and the Non-Classées
3. Creating a “Labor Reservoir”: Pronatalism, Medicine, and Motherhood in Madagascar
4. Voting for the Family: The Fight for Familial Suffrage in France and North Africa
5. A Colonial Fountain of Youth: Family Rights, Pronatalism, and Settler Politics in North Africa

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