She examines what France stood to gain by this action, wittily characterizing her analysis not as asking “what your country can do for foreigners” but rather “what foreigners can do for your country” (p. I will not try to lay out her sophisticated analysis in a pithy sentence or two--not for lack of her own clarity, on the contrary, but instead because I doubt I would do it justice. Davidson’s essay “Feminism and Abolitionism: Transatlantic Trajectories” is the last chapter in part 2.
I will, however, highlight her depiction of the “hybrid construction” of revolutionary universality through an interaction between local and specific peoples rather than simply on the level of high Enlightenment philosophy, which is in my opinion the best conceptual gem for how to approach a global perspective in this book (p. She describes how the Declaration of the Rights of Men opened up questions about the application of rights to both women and slaves.
Instead, these essays merely, if at times brilliantly and convincingly, ask historians to look for such factors “beyond France’s borders” (p. The middle section has the most confusing title--“‘Internal’ Dynamics”--even if its essays are some of the best.
In his tightly argued and widely supported chapter, Nelson encourages readers to think about the role of the “long history of colonialism” during the French Revolution (p. He shows how revolutionary leaders such as Grégoire seized on the idea of “regeneration” (p.
He argues that this “underground economy” stimulated popular protest, thereby delegitimizing state institutions that proved in desperate need of reform (p. His essay, which seemed to me a clever but not overwrought twist on Robert Darnton’s treatment of the “literary underground” (, 1982) included some fascinating insights--for example, that tax rebellions linked to repression of contraband trade were the most common form of revolt in France between 16.
Hunt’s contribution in chapter 2, “The Global Financial Origins of 1789,” also contains moments of great perspicacity.
All four of the first chapters therefore share a similar logic with respect to the origins of the Revolution.
These essays do not displace or upset the current belief, grounded in political cultural analysis, that a variety of factors led to a gradual delegitimization and discrediting of the monarchy and a concomitant rising demand for accountability if not representation.
The first part of the book looks at the origins or causes of the Revolution in a global context, which is the clearest of the three divisions.
In chapter 1, Kwass describes how French participation in the global economy, and particularly the regulation of New World tobacco and Asian cloth, promoted smuggling and clandestine trade.