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'Passing unnoticed in a French crowd' : the passing performances of British SOE agents in Occupied France

Pattinson, Juliette (2010) 'Passing unnoticed in a French crowd' : the passing performances of British SOE agents in Occupied France. National Identities, 12 (3). pp. 291-308.

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Abstract

This article examines the dissimulation, construction and assumption of national identities using as a case study male and female British agents who were infiltrated into Nazi-Occupied France during the Second World War. The British nationals recruited by the SOE's F section had, as a result of their upbringing, developed a French ‘habitus’ (linguistic skills, mannerisms and knowledge of customs) that enabled them to conceal their British paramilitary identities and ‘pass’ as French civilians. The article examines the diverse ways in which individuals attempted to construct French identities linguistically (through accent and use of vocabulary, slang and swear words), visually (through their physical appearance and clothing) and performatively (by behaving in particular ways).