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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

History

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded

2011

Month Degree Awarded

February

Keywords

Modern France, French Republicanism, Memory, Vichy, Algerian War

Abstract

Within the past few years, France has exhibited a changing relationship in regards to its memory of its collaborationist and colonial past. The controversies of the loi du 23 février 2005 and the 2007 Guy Môquet Commemoration displayed a new openness to discuss and evaluate traumatic pasts. Public debate during the two controversies focused on the difficult process of how to incorporate these traumatic events into the national narrative. Furthermore, this process of negotiation has opened up a vibrant discussion over what parties in France possess the authority and the right to construct the nation’s history. Medical metaphors of neurosis no longer appear to fit French practices of commemoration and remembrance.

The Fifth Republic’s legislative effort to dictate the content and character of France’s past encountered significant resistance from a number of historians and educators. While they stood opposed to the State’s methods, French historians and scholars came to frame their resistance to legislated history as evidence of their loyalty to republican ideals, namely those of scientific inquiry and laïcité. They too desired the creation of a shared national history, yet insisted that this history could only be formed by respecting the presence of multiple narratives. Other scholars voiced their reservations that the restoration of traumatic narratives might further social breakdown. Interestingly, these historians expressed little concern for the role of the general public in the writing of history and, at times, revealed a distinct mistrust of the public’s capacity to think historically.

First Advisor

Jennifer N. Heuer

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