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1931, foreigners during the Colonial Exhibition

15 November 1931, at the heart of the Bois de Vincennes in Paris, before nearly 400 000 people, the colors were brought for the last time at the top of a short-lived bronze tower of 82 meters. The Colonial Exhibition ended on a note of the extent of his triumph. In six months, no fewer than 8 million visitors had undertaken "around the world in one day" touted by the organisers. They had discovered the river boats of Dahomey, Bali dancers, musicians and actors from Antilles and Madagascar. They had surveyed the dozens of flats, before the jubilee-size reproductions of the Angkor Wat temple or a palace of Timbuktu. They had filled theaters, concerts and cafes, observed until midnight fountains light shows and fireworks. A popular success coupled with a financial success: 33 million francs profit of 320 million francs budget. The operation marked also sustained the South-East of Paris: the subway was extended boulevards field expanded, wood processing. For its first major temporary exhibition, National City's history of immigration has chosen to revive this unique scene. Installed since September 2007 at the Palais de la porte Dorée, the last vestige of the famous exhibition, the City presents, in all its brutality, this celebration of the colonial work.  Barely entry crossed, a world map painted by Henri Milleret and set the flag of the armed forces, sets the scene: "It is with 76 900 men that France ensures peace and blessings of civilization to its 60 million people. " Friezes, frescoes, paintings, sculptures, photos, posters, postcards, newspapers, costumes and models, often leaving for the first time reserves Musée du quai Branly, sustain recovery.  Behind the scene, the wings, and behind the theatre, the real world that the exhibition "1931, foreigners during the Colonial Exhibition" began to appear. A World weakened by the crash of 1929. A world of tensions and first crackles. Indeed, 1931 marks the climax of the foreign presence in France. They are then 2.8 million, of which 800 000 Italians, or 6.9% of the metropolitan population: children, workers, peasants. Their presence has been imposed before, during and after the First World War, and massive silent. At work, first of all, but also in leisure, housing, culture. Colonization, Immigration: the purpose of the exhibition is precisely in this effort to resonate both phenomena. There, in these lands overseas, which combines French, especially foreigners and "indigenous" private rights. Here, where workers live, non-workers and refugees. The so-called civilizing mission glorified by the works of art and sumptuous shots on one side. Images and objects of everyday life, on the other, starting with this mosaic of identity papers faces anonymous, unknown, among whom is a young Spanish without moustaches named Salvador Dali. Immigration work, immigration policy and even immigration transit to the USA or South America: the exhibition is to embody the complexity of the phenomenon. In mines, French and foreigners are fighting side by side, but elsewhere are increasing manifestations of xenophobia or anti-Semitic. The press book by his usual and effective testimony. More edifying, the City presents the work "scientific" Mauco Georges and his thesis on the degree of assimilation  of different "races". Ten years later, the Vichy regime will make use of it.
For the moment we are still in 1931. In the corridors of wood, elephants and camels dazzle a small boy named Francois Cavanna. The writer delivers a sound testimony. A few hundred yards in the 12th arrondissement, a building continues its everyday life. A large installation recreates the apartments, floor by floor. From top to bottom: a French cook, a labourer Algerian, an Italian bricklayer, a laundress, a hotel employee and an employee of the gas, all french, a Chinese merchant street, a manoeuvre, Chinese still. At his inauguration last year, the City of the history of immigration had been criticized for not linking immigration to colonial and its consequences. Eight months later, she found the best possible response: a beautiful exhibition.
1931, foreigners during the Colonial Exhibition." Until September 7. National City's history of immigration, 293 Avenue Daumesnil, Paris-12e. Tel. : 01-53-59-58-60.

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