What comes to mind when you think of Paris in the nineteenth century? For me, its revolutionary politics, the circulation of increasing numbers of...

What comes to mind when you think of Paris in the nineteenth century? For me, its revolutionary politics, the circulation of increasing numbers of people and goods, a range of spectacular cultural displays and amusements, an emergent urban modernity including a host of negotiations between social classes, public and private, men and women, citizens and the state. And if I had to name one historical figure to stand for the transformation of the nineteenth-century capital? Haussmann. Hands down.

Alexia Yates‘s book, Selling Paris: Property and Commercial Culture in the Fin-de-siecle Capital (Harvard UP, 2015), opened my eyes to a whole other world of everyday urbanism and historical actors in the city during the first decades of the Third Republic. Acknowledging the undeniable impact of Haussmann and Haussmannization on the city that Paris became under and after the Second Empire, Selling Paris considers the activities, interests, and effects of a host of other figures who shaped the city’s property relations and commercial culture from the early years of the Third Republic to the First World War. In the books chapters, readers will find a social history of the business of French building during this period, from planning and production to use. Focused on the architects, private developers, municipal authorities, speculators, real estate agents, notaries, property owners, and tenants whose interactions and negotiations influenced the form, representation, and experience of Parisian real estate in purposeful ways, the book makes significant contributions to our understanding of the history of the capital and capitalism in France.


Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. A historian of French culture and politics in the twentieth century, her current research focuses on the representation of nuclear weapons and testing in France and its empire since 1945. She lives and reads in Vancouver, Canada. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send an email to: [email protected].

*The music that opens and closes the podcast is an instrumental version of Creatures, a song written by Vancouver artist/musician Casey Wei (performing as hazy). To hear more, please visit https://agonyklub.com/.

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