A colonial genealogy of prohibitive policies in France during the First World War?

Restrictions during the Great War
By Nessim Znaien

The purpose of this article is to investigate the circulation of ideas and practices within the French colonial empire, through prohibitive policies adopted in France from the First World War onwards. Most of the colonies were subject to measures restricting alcohol consumption from the late 19th century. Did these policies – particularly in the Ivory Coast, Madagascar and Morocco – provide a template for the administrators of the Great War? The analysis of the correspondence of the senior colonial administration, of the anti-alcohol press and of the parliamentary debates in metropolitan France will allow us to investigate this imperial level as a possible explanatory model for metropolitan policies. As a starting point, we will focus on two major prohibitive laws passed in 1915 in metropolitan France: one banning absinthe, and the other requiring administrative authorisation prior to opening any drinking establishment.

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