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The Asian side of the world - II

Jean-François Sabouret

Part Two. National challenges and strategies

World War I: 50,000 Vietnamese nationals in the industry that was the French war

Mireille Le Van Ho

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January 2014

World War I inaugurated the first meeting between French citizens and what were known as “colonial subjects” in France. Almost 90,000 Vietnamese nationals enrolled unwillingly in French factories and barracks. 50,000 of them were sent to work in developing industrial warfare. As Michel Goya wrote: “1916 marks a rupture, a turning point, the critical transition from classical to modern warfare.” 900,000 colonial or so-called “exotic” workers, were brought to France from Indochina, Algeria, India and China, to form part of the industrial mobilisation, which was improvised in a hurry. The recruiting of unskilled labour was the case all around the world, regardless of the borders of the colonial empires. Long confined to the colonial territory, the history of the relations between the colonised and colonisers often ignored the internal migration within the empires, imposed by the coloniser. The war provoked a decisive moment during the Vietnamese emigration, which had barely...

© CNRS Éditions, 2015

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