/ Présentations

Chloé Gaboriaux : “Rural 1st (A. Thiers) as a Paganocrat. The Political Appropriation of Rustic Vocabulary Circa 1871”

(Traduction : Fiona Simpkins, MCF Civilisation britannique,
UMR 5206)

Speaker : Chloé Gaboriaux, Doctor in political sciences and Lecturer in Literature at the University of Lyon (University Claude Bernard Lyon 1).

Title : “Rural 1st (A. Thiers) as a Paganocrat. The Political Appropriation of Rustic Vocabulary Circa 1871”

Summary : The use of the term rural in its reactionary sense after the elections of February 1871 was often commented upon (Dubois, 1962 ; Barral, 1968 ; Huard, 1998 ; Chun, 2003 ; Bleton-Burget, 2005). Exasperated by the numerous electoral failures they experienced from the 1848 campaign onwards, Republicans turned the adjective into an insult that their political opponents immediately adopted as a claim to fame. This study aims to analyse the conceptual rearranging in the evolution of the term rural and go beyond the heretofore favoured study of its connotations. The nickname Rural 1st that Republicans soon gave Adolphe Thiers was the focus of attention for this study. Indeed, it outstandingly puts in practice the disqualifying metonymy undergirding most of the uses of the term rural and that comes down to denigrating the representatives of the campaigns by referring to them by the name of their electorate. The process is doubly surprising on the Republicans’ part. It implies a critique of the majority voters that goes against their faith in universal suffrage. Furthermore, it rests upon the identification of a social category with a political colour, which contradicts in large part their abstract faith in citizenship, heretofore considered as a way to break away from social determinations.

The analysis of a large corpus of texts published in the political arena between 1871 and 1875 made it possible to link the evolution of the term “rural” with a certain number of proposals for action initiated by Republicans, and to thus demonstrate that this linguistic process is far from being innocent : its use sends back to a reorientation of Republican conceptions.

Key words :political discourse, political onomastics, peasantry, representation, universal suffrage.