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  • History of the French and American States
  • Stephen W. Sawyer (bio)

This collection of articles is the product of two symposia on the history of the French and American states held in Paris in 2007 and 2011. The first symposium, held at the EHESS, provided the opportunity to open a dialogue on this question. Since that event, many of us continued to work in the area and to discuss the comparative histories of the American and French states. Over this time, far from losing its relevance, the topic seemed to gain interest among colleagues. Thus, four years later, in September 2011, we decided it was a propitious moment to hold another symposium, this time at the American University of Paris.

The moment seemed ripe for primarily three reasons.

First, during the initial meeting many of these ideas were still in germination. Five years later, however, most of us had published work in the area and had new book projects or, in some cases, were on the verge of completing books that had been in progress. Five years out seemed like a particularly important moment to take stock of this work and to bring people together.

Second, as the articles in this issue show, the historiography on the state has been developing at a tremendous pace over the last half decade. It has been striking to all of us how quickly the field is changing as the bibliography grows. We hope that our assessment, discussion, and contribution to this work will help to navigate this exciting, but also increasingly complex field.

Last, we have much to gain by bringing historians of the United States and France from both countries together to inform our histories. This issue has joined French and American historians of the United States as well as French and American historians of France. In [End Page 5] spite of the shared problematics on both sides of the Atlantic and in both national historiographies, it is striking the extent to which they have not consistently spoken to one another. While much of the historiography could be mutually informing, it would seem that there are few forum’s where they may actually converse directly.

For obvious reasons, The Tocqueville Review/La Revue Tocqueville seemed to us the ideal venue for such a discussion. We thank the journal and especially Laurence Duboys Fresney and Françoise Mélonio for their editorial work and for following this project from the beginning to its final completion. [End Page 6]

Stephen W. Sawyer

Stephen W. Sawyer, Chair, Department of History The American University of Paris.



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