Unnaturally French: Foreign Citizens in the Old Regime and After by Peter Sahlins
Publication Date: 2003-12-23
Telling the story of naturalization from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries, Unnaturally French offers an original interpretation of the continuities and ruptures of absolutist and modern citizenship, in the process challenging the historiographical centrality of the French Revolution. In his political history of the making and unmaking of the French absolute monarchy, Sahlins considers the shifting policies toward immigrants, foreign citizens, and state membership. Sahlins argues that the absolute citizen, exemplified in Louis XIV's attempt to tax all foreigners in 1697, gave way to new practices in the middle of the eighteenth century. This "citizenship revolution," long before 1789, produced changes in private and in political culture that led to the abolition of the distinction between foreigners and citizens. Sahlins shows how the Enlightenment and the political failure of the monarchy in France laid the foundations for the development of an exclusively political citizen, in opposition to the absolute citizen who had been above all a legal subject.