How to Be French: Nationality in the Making Since 1789


Product Details

Duke University Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 1.1 inches | 1.45 pounds

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About the Author

Patrick Weil is Senior Research Fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research (University of Paris, Sorbonne) and a professor at the Paris School of Economics. The author of many books, he was a member of France's Governmental Advisory Council on Integration from 1996 to 2002, and a member of the Presidential Commission created by President Jacques Chirac on the "implementation of the principle of secularism within the French Republic" in 2003. In 1997, following a request from Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, he produced two influential reports on nationality and immigration legislation. Under its original title, Qu'est-ce qu-un Français, How to Be French won the François Furet prize.

Catherine Porter, Professor Emeritus in the Foreign Languages Department at the State University of New York, Cortland, won the Chevalier d'Or des Palmes Académiques for advancing Franco-American relations through translation and teaching.


"How to Be French is a pioneering study of the fabrication of official 'Frenchness' since the Revolution of 1789, marshaling a plethora of fresh evidence and rereading more familiar sources in the service of an original, thoughtful, and provocative analysis. Patrick Weil is the most knowledgeable and insightful student of the institutional and judicial character of the French social tissue--of the political construction of cohesion in a land of immigration. He reminds the French of certain jagged truths they would prefer to forget; soberly, he draws lessons of great pertinence to other societies struggling to make multiplicity and heterogeneity work."--Steven Laurence Kaplan, Goldwin Smith Professor of European History, Cornell University
"How to be French is a critical history of nationality law and politics that illuminates decisive moments in the making of French nationality while making new and sophisticated theoretical claims about the articulations of nationality, the state, and history itself. This is a stupendous achievement by one of the most important French scholars and public intellectuals writing today."--Peter Sahlins, author of Unnaturally French: Foreign Citizens in the Old Regime and After
"This remarkable, award-winning book is sure to be extremely well received by English-language audiences. It provides a detailed, rigorous, chronologically wide, broadly comparative, and fascinating history of French nationality. How to Be French profoundly revises previous knowledge on the topic, and its comparative framework makes it essential reading not only to scholars of France but also to those interested in Germany, the United States, Algeria, and beyond."-- Eric T. Jennings, author of Curing the Colonizers: Hydrotherapy, Climatology, and French Colonial Spas