Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

5/1/2012 - 6/30/2012

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Imperialism and France's Crisis of Depopulation, 1870-1940

FAIN: FT-59546-12

Margaret Cook Andersen
University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, TN 37916-3801)

I am seeking support from the NEH to complete research for both a journal article and part of the fourth chapter of my book project. My book examines the ways in which France's position as an imperial power shaped national anxieties about demographic decline during the Third Republic (1870-1940). I argue that pronatalists, a diverse group of individuals who sought to encourage stronger population growth, looked to the empire for solutions to French depopulation. They drew important lessons from comparatively high birthrates among French settlers overseas, population policies introduced in colonies such as Madagascar, and pronatalist legislation introduced in Tunisia and Morocco. While historians have studied colonial expansion and the influential pronatalist movement as separate and largely unrelated aspects of the history of the Third Republic, these two developments were actually closely intertwined responses to shared anxieties about France's trajectory and position in the world.

Media Coverage

Histoire des politiques natalistes a Madagascar (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Vincent Hiribarren
Date: 7/27/2016
Abstract: Interview in French about part of my book.

Author(s): Jennifer Boittin
Date: 9/1/2016
Abstract: H-France review of my book, Regeneration through Empire

Associated Products

Regeneration through Empire: French Pronatalists and Colonial Settlement in the Third Republic (Book)
Title: Regeneration through Empire: French Pronatalists and Colonial Settlement in the Third Republic
Author: Andersen, Margaret Cook
Editor: Bridget Barry
Abstract: Following France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–71, French patriots feared that their country was in danger of becoming a second-rate power in Europe. Decreasing birth rates had largely slowed French population growth, and the country’s population was not keeping pace with that of its European neighbors. To regain its standing in the European world, France set its sights on building a vast colonial empire while simultaneously developing a policy of pronatalism to reverse these demographic trends. Though representing distinct political movements, colonial supporters and pronatalist organizations were born of the same crisis and reflected similar anxieties concerning France’s trajectory and position in the world. Regeneration through Empire explores the intersection between colonial lobbyists and pronatalists in France’s Third Republic. Margaret Cook Andersen argues that as the pronatalist movement became more organized at the end of the nineteenth century, pronatalists increasingly understood their demographic crisis in terms that transcended the boundaries of the metropole and began to position the French empire, specifically its colonial holdings in North Africa and Madagascar, as a key component in the nation’s regeneration. Drawing on an array of primary sources from French archives, Regeneration through Empire is the first book to analyze the relationship between depopulation and imperialism.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:,675971.aspx
Primary URL Description: Book page on the University of Nebraska Press website
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: World Cat
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 978-0-8032-449
Copy sent to NEH?: No