War and culture: the lessons of post-war France
Synergies Royaume-Uni et Irlande, 1, .
France emerged wounded from the dark days of the Second World War but the rebuilding of France offers one of the most successful examples of managing the aftermath of war. This article examines the process of ‘bricolage’ through which the French elites carried out an urgent programme of nation building, with the cultural and intellectual rebuilding of French national identity playing a key role. The emerging national synthesis subordinated the demands of other identities, especially those of class and gender, to the dominant forces in the national society. The powerful consensus to rebuild a new national identity in 1944-7 helped to secure the future for a free and prosperous post-war France. The success with which they rebuilt their nation may hold lessons for other countries in the present day, where embattled national elites confront the strategic task of building or rebuilding a nation after conflict and regime change.
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