The purpose of this international conference to be held in Paris, June 19th-20th 2014 and organized as a part of the World War I commemorations in France,is to understand the directions and the actions of the Ministry of Public Works during this period with fruitful comparisons about what happened in other belligerent countries.
"Public works" are to be understood in the context of an "exuberant growth” of State powers and of shifting ministerial authorities as a way to support the war efforts and later on to organize the reconstruction. The papers will address the relationship between the central administration and local authorities, the policies implemented with their goals and perceptions as well as the technical abilities, expertises and cultures involved. The papers will take into account the fact that ministerial powers were included in a larger set of relations with the players and the representatives of public and private interests involved in activities that were disrupted in wartime and in the years following the war.
The main activities were the following ones:
• The control of mining activities and the importation of energy resources;
• The requisition of infrastructures and services for rail, road and maritime transportation to ensure the mobility of people and goods;
• The contribution to the industrialization of the war;
• The supervision of postal services and telecommunications networks;
• The reconstruction of a territory and of civil engineering works that had been destroyed or damaged during the war.
Yet, the studies covering public policies linked to Public Works during this period remain surprisingly scarce and scattered with no overview. This conference will primarily deal with a set of themes such as territorial planning disrupted by the war and restructured by post-war reconstruction policies, or the changing relationship between military and civil authorities. It will also address the development of new governmental structures generated by the war and by the reconstruction policies and marked by technically-minded ministers such as Étienne Clémentel, Albert Thomas, Louis Loucheur, Marcel Sembat or Albert Claveille. Besides, the commitment of staffs, from engineers to road menders, the changes in technical cultures, the industrialization of war and, later on, the conversion of a wartime economy towards the development of new industrial activities will be addressed.
The proceedings of the conference will be published in Pour Mémoire, the journal of the History Committee of the French Ministry of Territorial Equality and Housing and of the ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy as well as on the Internet.
Proposals (one page maximum) should be submitted, along with the author's qualifications and positions, a mention of their latest publications, as well as their mail and e-mail contact details, by January 25 2014 to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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