Identifying South Asians in the French Resistance

This research entails the uncovering of the efforts of French colonial subjects contributing to the French Resistance Movement against the invasion of National Socialist soldiers between 1940-1944.
Identifying South Asians in the French Resistance

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This summer, my research involves the uncovering of personal stories of those from South Eastern regions of the Empire who contributed to the French Resistance.  I hope to uncover and contribute to an increasingly more inclusive narrative which serves to convey the diversity of the Resistance cause. The importance of this project lies in its reinterpretation of what has historically been perceived as French history and culture. By comparison, the perception of Metropolitan France during this period is more restricted without its contextualisation within the diverse network of other countries belonging to the Empire. As a result of this research, I wish to highlight the extent to which colonial subjects identified with Metropolitan France and why their experiences are equally as important as those with an exclusively Metropolitan French heritage.

This research shall be heavily informed by archival documents as I attempt to contribute to the increasingly enriching and expanding tapestry of the Resistance movement. Therefore, I will be most interested in the people’s familial, occupational, linguistic and cultural ties to France. With a trip to Paris planned in the incoming weeks of August, I plan to gather extensive archival resources such as military recognition and personnel files, police reports and personal memoirs from French military and colonials museums. 

This means the fruition of my research thus far exists from archives available online, in particular Les Français Libres and the Ministry of Defense's Memoires des hommes which have proved extensive. As my project focuses predominantly, though not exclusively, in the South Asian regions of the Empire, I am delighted to have already uncovered individuals from Vietnam, India and New Caledonia. With an existing investment in the French Empire already (I study French and History at the University of Leeds), this project has enabled me to delve deeper into the Imperial regimes and relationships of areas I had not yet touched. The turbulent relationships in Vietnam, for example, render my findings increasingly more fascinating due to the context of political uprisings and opposition to French presence. 

After Paris, I shall then spend the rest of my research period accessing additional available documents revealing Francophone contributions to the Resistance movement in mainland France. Guided by the evidence which I shall uncover, the extent to which I keep to these areas is unknown as I may uncover equally valuable histories in other areas of the empire.

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