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The Pride of Place: Local Memories and Political Culture in Modern France (Paperback)
  • The Pride of Place: Local Memories and Political Culture in Modern France (Paperback)
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The Pride of Place: Local Memories and Political Culture in Modern France (Paperback)

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£28.99
Paperback 344 Pages / Published: 28/08/2003
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Nineteenth-century France grew fascinated with the local past. Thousands of citizens embraced local archaeology, penned historical vignettes and monographs, staged historical pageants, and created museums and pantheons of celebrities. Stephane Gerson's rich, elegantly written, and timely book provides the first cultural and political history of what contemporaries called the "cult of local memories," an unprecedented effort to resuscitate the past, instill affection for one's locality, and hence create a sense of place. A wide range of archival and printed sources (some of them untapped until now) inform the author's engaging portrait of a little-known realm of Parisian entrepreneurs and middling provincials, of obscure historians and intellectual luminaries. Arguing that the "local" and modernity were interlaced, rather than inimical, between the 1820s and 1890s, Gerson explores the diverse uses of local memories in modern France-from their theatricality and commercialization to their political and pedagogical applications. The Pride of Place shows that, contrary to our received ideas about French nationhood and centralism, the "local" buttressed the nation while seducing Parisian and local officials. The state cautiously supported the cult of local memories even as it sought to co-opt them and grappled with their cultural and political implications. The current enthusiasm for local memories, Gerson thus finds, is neither new nor a threat to Republican unity. More broadly yet, this book illuminates the predicament of countries that, like France, are now caught between supranational forces and a revival of local sentiments.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801488733
Number of pages: 344
Weight: 624 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 18 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"In this imaginative, intelligent, and deeply researched work, Stephane Gerson renews the attack on the dominant Jacobin and French-university view that France was administratively centralized and culturally One and indivisible in the nineteenth century.... This book breathes a good deal of new life into the French nineteenth century."

-- Robert Gildea, Merton College, Oxford * Journal of Contemporary European Studies *

"French historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie once said that historians could be divided into truffle hunters and parachutists. Stephane Gerson is one of the rare examples of a historian who is both. His erudition and conceptual sophistication are impressive. He has an intimate local knowledge of archival sources-fast disappearing from the historical profession among North American scholars working on France. Gerson's command of primary sources and of the historiography and theoretical literature on memory, identity, and political culture is quite simply dazzling."

-- Caroline Ford, University of British Columbia

"Gerson's work demonstrates that, contrary to Parisian stereotypes, a lively and vital intellectual and cultural sphere existed in provincial France."

-- D. A. Harvey * Choice *

"In combination with his searching examination of mid-nineteenth-century liberalism, Gerson's exploration of the continuities and limits of the state's self-conception as intellectual arbiter offers a compelling and original set of insights into the very nature of the political in modern France. We have reason to be grateful that the bureaucratic domain-sometimes humdrum, usually scorned, but always important-has found such an erudite and sympathetic interpreter."

-- Daniel J. Sherman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee * H-France *

"It is common knowledge that history was a nineteenth-century enthusiasm, but this volume explores an aspect little known except to scholars working on the departments. They will be entranced to see how obscured learned societies and their publications fitted into a national trend that has helped to create the enthusiasm for le pays which remains a passion today."

-- Pamela Pilbeam * History *

"This highly original book challenges the conventional understanding of bourgeois political culture in nineteenth-century France. At both the local and national levels, Gerson finds a lively interest in celebrating the historical and cultural singularity of provincial towns and small regions. Drawing on colonial studies to explain the uneven results of negotiations between state officials and local boosters, this important book presents a strikingly new way of thinking about the politics of French identity from the July Monarchy to the Third Republic."

-- Jo Burr Margadant, author of The New Biography: Performing Femininity in Nineteenth-Century France, coeditor of French Historical Studies

"This is a book brimming with ideas and overflowing with data. Engagingly written and theoretically informed, it is undoubtedly a key text in the revisionist analysis of the making of French identity."

-- Bertrand Taithe * French History *

"This thought-provoking and impressively documented book challenges the view that nineteenth-century French culture and politics were essentially about urbanization, centralization, and modernization.... This book will be essential reading for students of nineteenth-century France. However, it will also provide rewarding reading for anyone who has an interest, professional or otherwise, in the ways in which the state seeks to determine the research agenda and control the production of knowledge."

-- Ceri Crossley * French Studies *

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