Views from the Margins


Views from the Margins

Creating Identities in Modern France

Edited and with an introduction by Kevin J. Callahan and Sarah A. Curtis

287 pages
4 maps, 1 table


January 2009


$35.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

What does it mean to be French? What constitutes “Frenchness”? Is it birth, language, attachment to republicanism, adherence to cultural norms? In contemporary France, these questions resonate in light of the large number of non-French and non-European immigrants, many from former French colonies, who have made France home in recent decades. Historically, French identity has long been understood as the product of a centralized state and culture emanating from Paris that was itself central to European history and civilization. Likewise, French identity in terms of class, gender, nationality, and religion mainly has been explained as a strong, indivisible core, against which marginal actors have been defined.

This collection of essays offers examples drawn from an imperial history of France that show the power of the periphery to shape diverse and dynamic modern French identities at its center. Each essay explains French identity as a fluid process rather than a category into which French citizens (and immigrants) are expected to fit. In using a core/periphery framework to explore identity creation, Views from the Margins breaks new ground in bringing together diverse historical topics from politics, religion, regionalism, consumerism, nationalism, and gendered aspects of civic and legal engagement.

Author Bio

Kevin J. Callahan is associate professor of history at Saint Joseph College. His articles have appeared in Peace and Change and International Review of Social History. Sarah A. Curtis is associate professor of history at San Francisco State University. She is the author of Educating the Faithful: Religion, Schooling and Society in Nineteenth-Century France.

Contributors: Kevin J. Callahan, Sarah A. Curtis, Anne Epstein, Rachel G. Fuchs, Samuel Huston Goodfellow, Stephen L. Harp, Sean M. Quinlan, Jeremy Rich, and Lee Whitfield.


"While those already familiar with the major currents of French history from the Revolution to the end of World War II will be most able to appreciate the pointed research of the nine essays, the volume offers something to every reader interested in France and the myriad forces involved in the creation of a national identity."—Fred L. Toner, French Review

"Margins is a good teaching volume for upper-division French history classes and scholars looking to move beyond the canon. It features both a theoretical and discursive facility with peripheries, and also a solid collection of empirical casework studies and multiple episodes to draw upon in shaping the parameters of what the outlines of France should be."—Matthew Matsuda, H-France

Table of Contents


      Kevin J. Callahan and Sarah A. Curtis

1. Missionary Utopias: Anne-Marie Javouhey and the Colony at Mana, French Guiana, 1827<EN>1848

      Sarah A. Curtis

2. Marcel Lefebvre in Gabon: Revival, Missionaries, and the Colonial Roots of Catholic Traditionalism

      Jeremy Rich

3. Marketing in the Metropole: Colonial Rubber Plantations and French Consumerism in the Early Twentieth Century

      Stephen L. Harp

4. Exorcising Algeria: French Citizens, the War, and the Remaking of National Identity in the Rhône-Alpes, 1954<EN>1962

      Lee Whitfield

5. Autonomy or Colony: The Politics of Alsace's Relationship to France in the Interwar Era

      Samuel Huston Goodfellow

6. The "True" French Worker Party: The Problem of French Sectarianism and Identity Politics in the Second International, 1889<EN>1900

      Kevin J. Callahan

7. Sex and the Citizen: Reproductive Manuals and Fashionable Readers in Napoleonic France, 1799<EN>1808

      Sean M. Quinlan

8. Gender and the Creation of the French Intellectual: The Case of the Revue de Morale Sociale, 1899<EN>1903

      Anne R. Epstein

9. Family Dramas: Paternity, Divorce, and Adultery, 1917<EN>1945

      Rachel G. Fuchs

The Writings of William B. Cohen



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