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The French RepublicHistory, Values, Debates$
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Edward Ducler Berenson, Vincent Duclert, and Christophe Prochasson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449017

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449017.001.0001

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(p.127) 14 Laicity
The French Republic

Jean Baubérot

, Arthur Goldhammer
Cornell University Press

This chapter tackles the question of “republican laicity” in terms of two related but hostile collective memories that permeate the French imagination. These two contradictory memories have told the same story in two different ways: in terms of laicity's conquest on the one hand and anti-Catholic “persecutions” on the other. But given more recent historical scholarship, a new version of the story has emerged, in which historical laicity is presented as a “compromise” solution. This new version is linked to the end of the conflict between the Republic and Catholicism as well as to the difficulty of accepting the multicultural character of France today. The chapter argues that this conflict between “two Frances” did indeed exist, but so did a conflict within the secularist camp at the decisive moment.

Keywords:   laicity, secularism, Catholicism, republican laicity, historical laicity, France

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