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Pierre H. Boulle

Sue Peabody, “There Are No Slaves in France”: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Laurent Dubois, Les Esclaves de la République. L’histoire oubliée de la première émancipation, 1789-1794, transl. by Jean-François Chaix (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 2000).

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Tereza Novotna

Explanations for the roots and cures of the continuous divergence between East and West German political cultures tend to fall into two camps: socialization and situation. The former emphasizes the impact of socialization before and during the GDR era and ongoing (post-communist) legacies derived from Eastern Germans' previous experience, whereas the latter focuses primarily on economic difficulties after the unification that caused dissatisfaction among the population in the Eastern parts of Germany. The article argues that in order to explain the persistence and reinvigoration of an autonomous political culture during the last two decades in the new Länder, we need to synthesize the two approaches and to add a third aspect: the unification hypothesis. Although the communist period brought about a specific political culture in the GDR, the German unification process—based rather on transplantation than on adaptation—has caused it neither to diminish nor to wither away. On the contrary, the separate (post)-communist political culture was reaffirmed and reinstalled under novel circumstances.

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Resonance and Discord

An Early Medieval Reconsideration of Political Culture

Steven A. Stofferahn

Scholars with an interest in politics have long searched for meaningful ways to conceptualize power relationships, notably turning in recent years to the notion of "political culture." By recounting this concept's historiographical trajectory vis-à-vis the early medieval practice of exile and by highlighting subtle arguments in Einhard's Vita Karoli Magni regarding the proper application of banishment in Carolingian Europe, the present essay not only offers a new perspective on the elusive date of that seminal biography's composition, but also suggests that historians of any era may profitably apply Keith Michael Baker's definition of political culture to their own fields of inquiry by evaluating how dispute resolution practices either resonated or struck discord among a polity's chief stakeholders.

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Riccardo Bavaj

The student revolt of the late 1960s had far-reaching repercussions in large parts of West German academia. This article sheds light on the group of liberal scholars who enjoyed a relative cohesiveness prior to "1968" and split up in the wake of the student revolt. The case of Kurt Sontheimer (1928-2005) offers an instructive example of the multifaceted process of a "liberal critic" turning into a liberal-conservative. While he initially welcomed the politicization of students and the democratization of universities, he became increasingly concerned about the stability of West Germany's political order and placed more and more emphasis on preserving, rather than changing the status quo. Sontheimer was a prime example of a liberal critic shifting and being shifted to the center-Right within a political culture that became increasingly polarized during the 1970s.

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Behind their common struggle against GMOs

Political cultures that divide

Julie Pagis

This article presents a comparative investigation of anti-GMO activism in two regions in France. It shows how activists’ participation in acts of ‘civil disobedience’ was not necessarily motivated by the same reasons or directed toward the same goals. During my ethnographic fieldwork at two trials against activists who destroyed GMO test plots in France I found that although protagonists were in agreement on rejecting GMOs, their deeper motives differed significantly. I draw five socio-biographical portraits of anti-GMO activists and highlight their divergent opinions on their role in the court case, which illustrate how in their utilization of the court activists relate differently to the legal system and society at large. The anti-globalization organization Attac and the farmers’ trade union Con- fédération Paysanne clearly had different relations to politics but I also analyze why in Ariège these differences could be harmonized whereas in Droˆme differences between activists lead to serious divisions. I do so by considering how different local activist cultures are shaped within a competitive organizational arena.

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Walter Bruyère-Ostells

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte theorized Napoleonic Caesarism between 1832 and 1844, although he was only a child at the fall of the First Empire. He took into account the embedding of Napoleonic supporters in the broad-ranging Liberal party during the Restoration. Through personal relationships, he was particularly influenced by officers who bent the First Empire's doctrine towards liberalism during the Hundred Days and who engaged in national and liberal actions. In this respect, the fight for the unification of Italy was paramount. The new social networks (secret societies) and the events he himself took part in (such as central Italy's revolution of 1831) particularly inspired him. By taking up weapons, moreover, he appropriated the image of being his uncle's legitimate heir. That is why two generations of officers, including Italian officers, must be considered as transmitters of an inheritance that Louis Napoleon used to reflect on his Napoleonic legacy.

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From Republican Political Culture to Republican Democracy

The Benefits and Burdens of History

Dick Howard

Marx called France the political nation par excellence, as contrasted to economic England and philosophical Germany. But Marx arrived at his mature theory only after a stern critique of a “merely political” view of revolution. And some of his most important insights are developed in analyses of the failures of revolution in France. While Marx’s observation is insightful, the theoretical conclusions he drew from it are problematic. The monarchy in France was not absolute because it was all-powerful or arbitrary; its power came from the means by which it dominated all spheres of life, transforming an administrative and territorial entity into a political nation. In the wake of the Revolution, the republican tradition became equally absolute; it came to define what the French mean by the political (a concept whose use differs from what “Anglo-Saxons” define as politics).

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Frédéric Sawicki

Why is the Socialist Party (Parti socialiste, PS) the first political party in France to implement a systematic and “scientific” door-to-door canvassing for the 2012 presidential campaign? What internal changes led the PS to adopt this practice? This innovation is not just technical; it is profoundly transforming the roles and activities of party members. As Rémi Lefebvre has pointed out, “rationalized canvassing prioritizes electoral efficiency. In the traditional partisan culture of the PS, campaigns were mostly about conviction and political conflict. Canvassing was a way for members to assert their identity and ‘fight’ together. It was mostly about belonging to a group of party members. Rather, scientific door-to-door canvassing is oriented by an electoral rationality.”

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With this issue, French Politics, Culture & Society celebrates its thirty-fifth year of publication and honors its co-founder, Stanley Hoffmann, who died two years ago at the age of eighty-six.