In a strangely climactic ending, the conclusion of my research on the sociopolitical climate of France has perfectly coincided with the end of my career as a Francophile. Returning from 9 months abroad in Paris and now on a hiatus (temporarily, at least) from French classrooms, concluding two years of research on the French nation and its people feels much like completing a marathon. Though I’ve ultimately come to recognize that, to a certain degree, I will always be limited by my outsider’s bias when studying the French people, since January I feel that I have learned an enormous amount about France as a nation, eventually gaining what is (I hope) an invaluable insight into the nuances of French society and politics. It is from this unique position—as an outsider with insight—that I’ve concluded my study of France.
In my Freshman Monroe project, I examined the meticulous, ongoing preservation of the French language, one of the clearest examples of the purist concept of the French culture and nationality. Building from this idea of a rigid sense of the French national identity, in this final stage of my study of France, I explored the place of cultural traditionalism and its effect on the determined nationalism which has come to dominate the 21st century French politics. The case of the National Front—the face of French cultural traditionalism political protectionism—has provided an extraordinary lens through which to explore the whether a country can—or even should—defend its national identity in the face of supra-nationalization, or whether the compromise of nationality is ultimately inevitable.
Even as a recovering Francophile, I’ll be just as keen as any European to see the outcome of the French Presidential elections next April.