Boundaries: The Making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees

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It is rooted in extensive research in archives across the Pyrenees on varied themes such as migrations, political disputes, marriage records, and criminal activity.


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  • Boundaries the Making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees by Sahlins Peter!

Sahlins weaves together macroscopic and microscopic histories: the political history of the French and Spanish negotiations over the Pyrenean border alternates with studies of local responses to boundaries and nationhood from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. The changing focus — from macro to micro, and political to local — allows the readers to contextualize the significance of national policies in these peripheral borderland regions and the importance of local definitions and uses of nationhood.

French Cerdagne - Wikipedia

This movement between the two historical lenses has led to many probing questions about the effects of national policies on local community politics in other regions of the world, and how localized events affect national identities. Throughout the study, Sahlins probes the relationship between local and national identities. In such cases, locals chose their nationality based on serving their own interests. Therefore a local from the French side of the border may claim to be both French and Spanish at different junctures in his lifetime, depending on local circumstances and interests.

[PDF Download] Boundaries: The Making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees [Download] Online

Sahlins also explored localized relationships across the national border in economic, familial, political, cultural, and linguistic terms. These investigations complicate the notion of a single national identity on either side, since locals travelled across the border regularly, often changing abode depending on economic or political circumstances.

France/Spain - Hiking trip Pyrénées

The Pyrenees boundary between France and Spain began in as a pretty arbitrary line, but over the course of the next two centuries it was worked out as a national border locally. Sahlins studied the Cerdanya, a valley in the Pyrenees split between France and Spain, and shows how localism formed national identities that were necessary for delineating the boundary.

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He shows how policy in the Cerdanya reflected this change from jurisdiction to territory, the change from frontier land to a true boundary. Sahlins' book is a fascinating look at what makes a nation, and a microcosmic study of the formation of the modern nation-state.

His study of the Cerdanya gives the book insights, not just into governmental state-building, but also the construction of identity, the necessity of boundaries for people to define themselves in opposition to the other. March 30, - Published on Amazon.

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This book is pure genious, focusing on the important issue of nations, identity and borders, specifically the Franco-Spanish border as it was deliniated from the 17th century onward. This is a fascinating account.

Boundaries: The Making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees by Peter Sahlins (1989)

Most would say that the pyrennes offer an ideal border and they would be correct, but how the nations were able to imprint national idenitities on the clannish localities of the mountains is fascinating reading on a subject most of us would never deighn to think important. A fun and important account, fascinating, ingenious and one of a kind in its originality.


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