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The UprootedRace, Children, and Imperialism in French Indochina, 1890-1980$
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Christina Elizabeth Firpo

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824847579

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824847579.001.0001

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War, Political Loyalty, and Racial Demography, 1938–1945

War, Political Loyalty, and Racial Demography, 1938–1945

(p.86) 4 War, Political Loyalty, and Racial Demography, 1938–1945
The Uprooted

Christina Elizabeth Firpo

University of Hawai'i Press

Japanese occupation of Indochina in World War II and subsequent rise of Vietnamese anticolonial movements triggered a veritable panic among French administrators and colonists about maintaining a French presence in the colony. To colonial administrators in Indochina, naturalized indigenous citizens would not suffice; instead, they had a racialized image of French identity. Fatherless métis children who could pass for white would play an important role in this endeavor. Colonial officials cited racial markers like blond hair or blue eyes to justify the removal of fatherless métis children from their indigenous mothers. The perception of these children as white marked yet another shift in the colonial attitude towards the population of fatherless métis. Initially regarded with suspicion and dismissed as irredeemably Vietnamese, these children had come to be accepted as part of the French community since the 1920s; now, given the demographic crisis of whiteness that surfaced during World War II, they were increasingly relied upon to make up a large portion of the future French community in the colony. The Brévié Foundation planned to raise fatherless métis wards to form a stable class of French men and women who would eventually form a permanent French elite in Indochina, settling in strategic areas of the central highlands, and providing thewhite faces considered essential for the proposed new colonial capital of Dalat.

Keywords:   Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indochina, Race, Imperialism, Children, Motherhood, France, orphan, eurasian, métis, whiteness, George Coedes, Jules Brevie Foundation, World War II, Fascism, Dalat

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