How to Be French: Nationality in the Making since 1789 (Paperback)
  • How to Be French: Nationality in the Making since 1789 (Paperback)
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How to Be French: Nationality in the Making since 1789 (Paperback)

(author), (translator)
£25.99
Paperback 456 Pages / Published: 15/12/2008
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How to Be French is a magisterial history of French nationality law from 1789 to the present, written by Patrick Weil, one of France's foremost historians. First published in France in 2002, it is filled with captivating human dramas, with legal professionals, and with statesmen including La Fayette, Napoleon, Clemenceau, de Gaulle, and Chirac. France has long pioneered nationality policies. It was France that first made the parent's nationality the child's birthright, regardless of whether the child is born on national soil, and France has changed its nationality laws more often and more significantly than any other modern democratic nation. Focusing on the political and legal confrontations that policies governing French nationality have continually evoked and the laws that have resulted, Weil teases out the rationales of lawmakers and jurists. In so doing, he definitively separates nationality from national identity. He demonstrates that nationality laws are written not to realize lofty conceptions of the nation but to address specific issues such as the autonomy of the individual in relation to the state or a sudden decline in population.

Throughout How to Be French, Weil compares French laws to those of other countries, including the United States, Great Britain, and Germany, showing how France both borrowed from and influenced other nations' legislation. Examining moments when a racist approach to nationality policy held sway, Weil brings to light the Vichy regime's denaturalization of thousands of citizens, primarily Jews and anti-fascist exiles, and late-twentieth-century efforts to deny North African immigrants and their children access to French nationality. He also reveals stark gender inequities in nationality policy, including the fact that until 1927 French women lost their citizenship by marrying foreign men. More than the first complete, systematic study of the evolution of French nationality policy, How to be French is a major contribution to the broader study of nationality.

Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822343318
Number of pages: 456
Weight: 658 g
Dimensions: 232 x 156 x 28 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"How to Be French is a pioneering study of the fabrication of official 'Frenchness' since the Revolution of 1789, marshaling a plethora of fresh evidence and rereading more familiar sources in the service of an original, thoughtful, and provocative analysis. Patrick Weil is the most knowledgeable and insightful student of the institutional and judicial character of the French social tissue-of the political construction of cohesion in a land of immigration. He reminds the French of certain jagged truths they would prefer to forget; soberly, he draws lessons of great pertinence to other societies struggling to make multiplicity and heterogeneity work."-Steven Laurence Kaplan, Goldwin Smith Professor of European History, Cornell University
"How to be French is a critical history of nationality law and politics that illuminates decisive moments in the making of French nationality while making new and sophisticated theoretical claims about the articulations of nationality, the state, and history itself. This is a stupendous achievement by one of the most important French scholars and public intellectuals writing today."-Peter Sahlins, author of Unnaturally French: Foreign Citizens in the Old Regime and After
"This remarkable, award-winning book is sure to be extremely well received by English-language audiences. It provides a detailed, rigorous, chronologically wide, broadly comparative, and fascinating history of French nationality. How to Be French profoundly revises previous knowledge on the topic, and its comparative framework makes it essential reading not only to scholars of France but also to those interested in Germany, the United States, Algeria, and beyond."- Eric T. Jennings, author of Curing the Colonizers: Hydrotherapy, Climatology, and French Colonial Spas

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