he essays in this book are the result of a series of lectures held at
the Francophone Research and Resource Center at the University of
Southern California (USC) in the spring of 2006. The short story is
that these lectures happened because we are French women living,
working, and raising children in the United States.
The longer story would take us to the benches of the USC campus and its coffee shops where we had never-ending conversations
about being French in the United States, being a French employee
in an American workplace (and, more specifically, a French professor
at an American campus), a French wife to an American husband, and
a French mother to American children. As working mothers in the
United States, the issues that concern us are by definition those of an
American context. Since we moved from France to the United States,
our relationship with France has become more theoretical: we don’t
live there and we make up for it by reading and hearing about it from
friends and family. While losing some of our “Frenchness” to become
more and more American, it has become a habit for us, anytime we are
confronted with a new or perplexing situation, to compare our native
country to our adoptive one and to reflect: “So this is how it is for
women here, but back there, women do that.” To say that we are constantly, consciously and unconsciously, comparing, evaluating policies
and cultural traits is to say the least.
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