Memory and the politics of forgetting: Paris, the Commune, and the 1878 Exposition Universelle

Wilson, C. 2005. Memory and the politics of forgetting: Paris, the Commune, and the 1878 Exposition Universelle. Journal of European Studies. 35 (1), pp. 47-63.

TitleMemory and the politics of forgetting: Paris, the Commune, and the 1878 Exposition Universelle
AuthorsWilson, C.
Abstract

This study focuses on the representation of Paris during the 1878 Exposition universelle (World Fair) and the Fête du 30 juin (Festival of 30 June) in a selection of articles in the popular, conservative, illustrated journal Le Monde illustré and Charles Marville’s specially commissioned photographic exhibits, Le Vieux Paris (Bygone Paris) and Travaux (Public Works). A close reading of these texts and images reveals that while Marville’s collection of juxtaposed photographs conforms to the officially promoted view of the city as a modern, healthy and hygienic metropolis and, as such, constitutes an effective denial of the memory of Communard Paris, the ironies and ambiguities presented in the descriptions of the city by Le Monde illustré’s pseudonymous reporter would, on the contrary, suggest that the memory of the recent past cannot be so easily erased. The article concludes by reflecting on some of the wider issues raised by these examples and the extent to which official histories are invariably the creation of a society’s ruling class.

JournalJournal of European Studies
Journal citation35 (1), pp. 47-63
ISSN0047-2441
Year2005
PublisherSage
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/0047244105051156
Publication dates
Published2005

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