Chapter

French Identity: The National Search for Retrospective Legitimacy and Unanimity

Jack Hayward

in Fragmented France

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780199216314
Published online May 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191712265 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216314.003.0002
 French Identity: The National Search for Retrospective Legitimacy and Unanimity

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The French sense of national identity derives from legitimizing myths and symbols rather than from the divergent realities that operate within shifting territorial frameworks of reference. National heroes are commemorated in the Pantheon, statues, and state funerals while the people are personified in the secular figure of Marianne as against the Right's Joan of Arc. Roman Catholicism's link with the Monarchy historically linked claims to religious universality and national specificity. Conscription and literacy in French language reinforced national-building.

Keywords: symbols; Pantheon; Marianne; Catholicism; conscription; literacy

Chapter.  13073 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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