Spotlight on France

Podcast: Political swearing, Molière and women, King Behanzin's surrender

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Which Macron vowed to "piss off" the unvaccinated and why? The 17th century female playwrights around Molière, as France marks his 400th anniversary with pomp and circumstance. The African kingdom that made France tremble in the 19th century, until its king surrendered.

Spotlight on France, episode 66
Spotlight on France, episode 66 © RFI

President Emmanuel Macron shocked France when he used a curse word to describe his Covid strategy to put pressure on the unvaccinated, calling them irresponsible and non-citizens. Research suggests that such a confrontational approach is more likely to push people away from vaccination, so the message could be counter-productive. Unless, that is, he was addressing a different audience. Political scientist Philippe Moreau Chevrolet (@moreauchevrolet) says Macron’s strategy may pay off electorally in the short term, but it comes at a price. (Listen @0')

17th century playwright Molière is a school curriculum staple in France and his plays are performed all around the world. As France marks the 400th anniversary of his birth, people are battling to appropriate his legacy – either nostalgic for a bygone glorious era or trying to establish his contemporary 'Republican' credentials. Moliere's satirical works poked fun at authority, and he denounced violence against women. But actor, director and researcher Aurore Evain (@auroreevain) cautions against calling him a feminist. She speaks about the influence of female actors around Molière and her discovery of 17th century women playwrights who influenced both him and his work. (Listen @16'50'')

When France returned the Benin Bronzes in November 2021, it was returning treasure from the Dahomey kingdom, which fell on 15 January 1894 when King Behanzin surrendered to the French army after two wars. Today he is remembered as the monarch who made French tremble, but his kingdom, and the treasures in it, were also a product of the slave trade. (Listen @11'25'')

This episode was mixed by Cecile Pompeani and Erwan Rome.

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