The Pride of Place: Local Memories & Political Culture in Nineteenth-century France

Front Cover
Cornell University Press, 2003 - History - 324 pages
0 Reviews
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.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Local Memories and Modernity
The Field of Local Memories
Recomposing Self and Nation
The Pedagogy of Place
Local Memories and the Governing of the Minds
Town Nation or Humanity?
Local Difference and the State
The Quandary of Local Initiative
Sur les Lieux Provincial Elites before the State

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

STEPHANE GERSON is a cultural historian of modern France and the editor of a new edition of Nostradamus's "Prophecies" for Penguin Classics. He has won several awards, including the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History and the Laurence Wylie Prize in French Cultural Studies. He has also contributed to "Publishers Weekly" and the "Jewish Daily Forward". Gerson teaches French history at New York University and lives in Manhattan and Woodstock, NY, with his family.

Bibliographic information