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Class Year

2013

Abstract

A sense of national identity in France is something that has been defined and redefined throughout the twentieth century. With a history that includes two world wars, the creation of the European Union, in addition the the notable action of decolonization on the part of France, particularly in Indo-China and Algeria, there have been evident increases in immigration into France in recent history. These actions have forced France, as a nation, to question what its identity really is, particularly in terms of its cultural identity. In addition to these immigrants who may arrive from former French colonies, however, there are those individual cultures that have existed within France’s own borders for centuries. They have been a part of the ever-changing definition of French nationalism and French culture. One such area of France is known as Brittany or Bretagne in French. With the Breton National Party’s alliance with Nazi Germany during World War II, there was a decline in Breton nationalism in politics immediately following the war, which was exacerbated by the exclusion of the Breton language in schools, and led to the division between nationalist politics and culture. With the creation of “Regions” in France during the 1970s and 1980s, the borders of what had once been Bretagne changed as well. This did not eliminate the nationalism and identity, particularly through culture, that existed within what had formerly been the Brittany “province.” A revival of Breton folk music and other cultural elements, as well as the Breton Democratic Union party in France reflect both the cultural and political aspects of an area of France that serves as an example of the larger French question of national identity and cultural identity that still exists today.

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