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La mondialisation de la Révolution française (vers 1930-1960) : origines et eclipse d'un paradigme historiographique.

Stammers, T. (2020) 'La mondialisation de la Révolution française (vers 1930-1960) : origines et eclipse d'un paradigme historiographique.', Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales., 74 (2). pp. 297-335.


This article sketches an alternative narrative for the origins of global historiography on the French Revolution. It argues that the thesis of an “Atlantic Revolution” put forward by Robert Palmer and Jacques Godechot in the 1950s in fact grew out of debates in interwar France. French historians first took a “global turn” with the establishment of the Institut International de l’Histoire de la Révolution Française (IIHRF) in 1936. Its founding members, Philippe Sagnac and Boris Mirkine-Guétzevitch, were committed to making revolutionary historiography an instrument for promoting internationalism in an age of immense diplomatic insecurity. The IIHRF was pioneering for the geographical range, interdisciplinary focus, and extended chronology it brought to studying the French Revolution. It was also, however, profoundly marked by French geopolitical interests and deep-rooted assumptions of cultural superiority connected to the study of “civilization.” The closure of the IIHRF after the Nazi occupation, and its relocation to New York, inaugurated an intriguing new chapter in Franco-American intellectual exchanges. In the wake of the war, however, the diplomatic value of the IIHRF was redundant and its intellectual agenda eclipsed by the rise of alternative ways of conceiving of international history, as well as the challenge of decolonization. The evolution and ultimate failure of the IIHRF raise intriguing questions about the changing significance of 1789 as a political landmark, the different methodologies of “international,” “Atlantic,” and “world” history, and the reshaping of research paradigms at the dawn of the Cold War.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:This article will be published in a revised form in Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © Éditions de l’EHESS.
Date accepted:30 March 2018
Date deposited:11 March 2020
Date of first online publication:23 July 2020
Date first made open access:11 March 2020

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