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A New Identity for Old Europe

How and Why the French Imagined Françallemagne in Recent Years

Scott Gunther

This article examines recent efforts to foster a sense of “Franco-Germanness” in France through an analysis of popular media generated by the fortieth anniversary of the Elysée Treaty in 2003, including: (1) a Franco-German television news program, (2) a light-hearted television program called Karambolage that presents daily life in France and Germany, and (3) a new history textbook for use in both German and French schools. These recent efforts differed from previous attempts to bring France and Germany closer both in terms of how they operated (earlier efforts focused on informing one country about the other's foreign culture; recent efforts were more about identifying what the two have in common) and why they occurred (earlier efforts focused on transforming a former enemy into a friend; recent efforts were about coming together in the face of a common adversary, namely, the Bush administration and its position on Iraq).

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Scott Gunther

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Scott Gunther

Abstract

This article examines the political style and rhetoric of the Manif pour tous (MPT), the main organization opposing same-sex marriage in France, from summer 2013 to the present. It exposes how the MPT's style and rhetoric differ from those of their American counterparts, and what this tells us about the different strategies of political movements in France and the United States generally. It is based on an analysis of the language used by activists whom I interviewed in 2014 and 2015 and on a discourse analysis of the MPT's website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and press releases since 2013. This analysis of the distinctive features of the MPT brings to light underlying concerns about French identity in the face of globalization. In other words, for the MPT and its members, what is at stake is not just same-sex marriage but the very definition of Frenchness.