“Neither Right Nor Left”? Situating and Staging the French State and Nation in Macron’s Paris

Authors: Mathias Le Bossé*, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Topics: Cultural Geography, Political Geography, Europe
Keywords: France, Ideology, Political Hermeneutics and Communication, Civil Unrest
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

President Emmanuel Macron’s choice of Le Louvre and its esplanade to host and entertain his supporters and celebrate his electoral victory following a solemn acceptance speech on the evening of May 7, 2017, was interpreted by many a commentator as a symbol of the “centrist” character of his proposed governmental agenda and a revealing insight into his conception and performance of presidential power. Located between the Bastille circle (traditionally associated with the popular, revolutionary Left, in eastern Paris) and the squares of Concorde or L’Étoile (linked to a bourgeois and conservative legacy in the western half of the city) the site and situation of the old palace and its modern glass pyramid represent, however, more than an aptly “central” spatial metaphor. In them, various layers of meanings may provide ideological bearings to the Macron phenomenon, a “political UFO” that irrupted into the French social and political landscape claiming to radically transform it. Initially guided by Maurice Agulhon’s discussion of the symbolic political geography of Paris (in Pierre Nora’s acclaimed Realms of Memory) this paper attempts to survey and critically evaluate the President’s use of selected urban sites, landmarks and monuments in the French capital and its environs as meaningful backgrounds and stages during his first months in office. Ironically, the ideological “disruption” often proclaimed by the champions of Macronism may have found its best illustration in the counter-geography of protests of the “Yellow Vests” social movement that began, more visibly in Paris than elsewhere in the country, in late 2018.

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