The Pride of Place: Local Memories & Political Culture in Nineteenth-century France
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. Stéphane 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.
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Academie ancient archaeological Archives Arcisse de Caumont August Augustin Thierry Cambrai Caumont century circular civic civil society Comite Commission historique communes congresses contemporaries Cormenin CTH members cultivated local memories cultural Delloye departement Douai erudition festive field francaise France Francois Francois Guizot French Revolution Gatien-Arnoult geographical Glay governmental Guilbert Guizot Histoire des villes historical pageants I'histoire idem identity Incas Instr intellectual Jules Desnoyers July Monarchy learned societies lettres liberal Lille litteraire local memories March Ministry of Public ministry's modern Montargis monuments monuments historiques moral municipal Municipale nineteenth nineteenth-century Nord Nord's off1cial official cult Paris Parisian past patois patrie patrimoine pays pays's pedagogy Pierre political politique prefect President Societe provincial elites provincial learned societies publique regime regional Revue Rouland Salvandy sciences et arts scientific scientifique Second Empire social Societe d'agriculture Societe des antiquaires societes savantes sought territorial Thierry tion unity urban Valenciennes ventures vols XIXe siecle