Paul Doumer, from Indochina to the Élysée Palace
In May 1931, Paul Doumer, the son of a railwayman from Aurillac, in south-central France, was elected President of the French Republic. Aged 14, he trained as a medal engraver but studied for a baccalaureate, attending the exams in his factory overalls. Early in his career, he taught maths and worked as a journalist. Despite being nominated Minister of Finance on three separate occasions and fulfilling other high-ranking positions (Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies and then of the Senate), the label of ‘political animal’ does not sit well with Doumer, who never chaired a political party. In 1897, 40-year old Doumer was posted to Indochina as Governor-General. By the end of his tenure in 1902, Indochina resembled a profitable colonial outpost and organizations were set up to greatly expand our knowledge of its culture, arts, languages and religions. In his nearly 50 years of political life, Doumer participated in the most important issues of the regime, at the crossroads between the right and the left, at the junction of politics, industry, finance and diplomacy. The success in the professional and political spheres was not met in his personal life, which was beset by family tragedies, culminating in his assassination on 6 May 1932. This presentation will discuss the biography of Paul Doumer, based on newly-available archives, with particular reference to his governorship of Indochina, 1897-1902, and his visit to Siam in 1898.
About the speaker
Dr Amaury Lorin (PhD in History, Sciences Po, Paris, 2011) is a prize-winning historian, a Member of the Asian Society and a former Research Fellow at the French School of Asian Studies. He has lived and worked in China, Vietnam and Myanmar, where he contributed regularly to The Myanmar Times. Ajarn Amaury contributes to Questions internationales (La Documentation française). He is the co-editor of Nouvelle histoire des colonisations européennes (XIXe-XXe siècles): Sociétés, cultures, politiques and L’Europe coloniale et le grand tournant de la Conférence de Berlin (1884-1885). His most recent books are Paul Doumer: La République audacieuse and Variations birmanes, both published in 2022. Dr Lorin is the recipient of the Prix de l’Académie des sciences d’outre-mer (2005), the Prix des écrivains combattants (2006) and the Prix de thèse du Sénat (2012).
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