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Paris and the Spirit of 1919
Consumer Struggles, Transnationalism and Revolution

Part of New Studies in European History

  • Date Published: May 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107521230

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About the Authors
  • This transnational history of Paris in 1919 explores the global implications of the revolutionary crisis of French society at the end of World War I. As the site of the peace conference Paris was a victorious capital and a city at the center of the world, and Tyler Stovall explores these intersections of globalization and local revolution. The book takes as its central point the eruption of political activism in 1919, using the events of that year to illustrate broader tensions in working class, race, and gender politics in Parisian, French, and ultimately global society which fueled debates about colonial subjects and the empire. Viewing consumerism and consumer politics as key both to the revolutionary crisis and to new ideas about working-class identity, and arguing against the idea that consumerism depoliticized working people, this history of local labor movements is a study in the making of the modern world.

    • Explores the role of consumerism in working-class identity and popular mobilization, challenging the view that consumer politics is simply capitalist hegemony
    • Integrates metropolitan and colonial history, showing how local and global politics intersected at the start of the twentieth century
    • The book's transnational approach is also postcolonial, foregrounding debates over colonial subjects and the empire in France
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Paris and the Spirit of 1919 is a major new synthesis of the fundamental changes shaping working-class politics and identity in the interwar years. Tyler Stovall persuasively argues for 1919 as a focal point for key transformations in French society and politics during the twentieth century. By insisting on the political significance of working class consumption, Stovall's study brings together the histories of labor and consumerism in a highly original way. Written with verve and exceptional clarity, this long-awaited book both foregrounds and revitalizes class as a category of historical analysis. [This book] should be required reading for all labor and social historians as well as scholars of modern Europe.' Mary Louise Roberts, University of Wisconsin

    'By means of an empirically rich, intensive study of a single year, Paris and the Spirit of 1919 makes a fundamental contribution to our understanding of both the French state and the transformation of the working class in the twentieth century. Tyler Stovall succeeds admirably in bringing together the histories of consumerism and labor, drawing on and incisively contributing to both historiographies. The book is a pleasure to read; it is elegantly written, beautifully argued, and well-documented.' Leora Auslander, University of Chicago

    'Shifting the focus of postwar France from 1920 - the birth of the Communist Party, the beginning of Moscow's lasting graft on French politics - to 1919 is no small feat. The capital of modern culture also appears as a crossroads between colonial and migrant families looking for an insertion into the metropolis, consumers and renters taking the home and the market as reasons for collective action, and strikers trying to change the international and national world of work. Both exclusions and social movements are powerful sources of the recasting of urban France, not only elites and avant-gardes.' Patrick Fridenson, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

    'Stovall does well in saying that we should not focus on why there was no revolution in 1919, but on what actually took place.' French History

    'Stovall draws a rich tapestry of the social fabric of the Paris region, granting due attention to the specifics of urban space and to the details of occupational profiles … Students and scholars interested in the effects of World War I, in urban history, in labor history, and in French history should all take note of this book.' H-Soz-u-Kult

    'This book is full of argument and richly evocative of a city remade by war and roiled by a hurricane of public protest, the likes of which it had not seen since the days of the Paris Commune.' Philip Nord, The Journal of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107521230
    • length: 356 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 22 b/w illus. 5 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: a year like no other
    1. The consumers' war
    2. The working class of Paris: definitions and identities
    3. Remaking the French working class: race, gender and exclusion
    4. Spectacular politics
    5. Consumer movements
    6. Time, money, and revolution: the metalworkers' strike of June, 1919
    Conclusion: legacies.

  • Author

    Tyler Stovall, University of California, Berkeley
    Tyler Stovall is Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in modern and contemporary French history, in particular questions of race, colonialism and postcolonialism, labor and transnationalism.

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