The Moral Rearmament of France

Pierre Nora, Memory, and the Crises of Republicanism

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Author: Ben Mercer
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The article traces the transformation of the idea of memory in the writings of Pierre Nora. His multi-volume Les Lieux de mémoire is read as a response to historiographical and historical crises of the 1970s, an attempt to write the history of France in which memory served as the new basis of national unity. However, the new national synthesis of memory that emerged merely resembled a liberal republicanism, whose enemies were variously immigrants, multiculturalists, neo-nationalists, dissenters from the anti-totalitarian consensus, or anyone who emphasized Vichy or France's colonial past. Ultimately, memory proved no more capable of dealing with the troublesome aspects of historical narrative or memory than traditional history.

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