France in the World: A New Global History
France in the World: A New Global History is a manifestation of French history with compiled historical accounts from different historians
Other narratives such as that of the Afro-French are important to the greater theme of the book
Discontinuous dates allows readers to see the birth of societies and the various elements they were founded upon
Sharing the same title as Boucheron’s book, France in the World: A New Global History took place at 972 Fifth Avenue on April 23, 2019. The Other Press and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, along with the Institute of French Studies at NYU (IFS), co-sponsored the event and invited the following panelists to speak: Frederic Viguier, who works at the IFS; Mame-Fatou Niang, a professor at Carnegie Mellon who teaches French and Francophone studies; Patrick Boucheron, a history professor at the College de France as well as one of the book’s editors; Nicolas Delalande, a researcher at Sciences Po and editor of the book; and Francesca Trivellato, a historian at the Institute for Advanced Studies.
Viguier, who moderated the discussion, asked Boucheron how he approached compiling such a dense, historical work.
Boucheron began by providing a statement as to what France in the World: A New Global History meant to French history. He began by noting that there is “no completion to French history” — the historical events that transpired still have an effect on modern politics and cultural elements; every day, more and more is being built upon France’s history. However, Boucheron added that there is still a risk in providing the public with the real history of France. Boucheron’s main purpose in producing France in the World: A New Global History is to dispel modern misconceptions of historical events and let the public make their own judgements France’s past and present.
Boucheron said he did not want the historians who contributed to the book to limit themselves on what and how they could write. He said there needed to be a balance between “theoretical and narrative” aspects found within the book, and the only way to achieve that balance was to let the historians take their own creative liberties.
Viguier then asked Mame-Fatou Niang why she believed Boucheron’s book played such an important role in the public realm.
Niang, a French citizen of African descent, felt the book could provide an otherwise invisible identity to people of Afro-French heritage. Niang said she did not learn how to speak about her black roots in France, but in the U.S., which raises questions about the way French citizens engage in dialogue with minority groups. Boucheron’s book not only shows how France evolved through its interaction with the outside world, but also shows how France fundamentally changed by integrating various ethnic groups into its domain. Niang said she believes the book will dispel misconceptions hovering around French minority groups, leading to a stronger national identity.
Towards the end of the discussion, Viguier noted that some of the entries within the book skipped time periods rather sporadically, and asked Trivellato what her opinion was on the discontinuity of dates.
Trivellato said the editorial choice to have discontinuous dates was to allow the reader to see these microinteractions as histories that stand on their own or histories that contribute to some larger theme, such as the French interaction with anti-Ottoman ideology. Boucheron said that these smaller stories lend the reader insight into the birth of a society built upon intolerance, and how through time, these societies overcome the intolerance that they were once founded upon.
This report was compiled by Anabelle Ortiz on May 1, 2019 and edited by Jamin Chen.