Sarah Farmer's Rural Inventions: The French Countryside After 1945 (Oxford University Press, 2020) is a history of national, regional, and local transformations during the period known as the Trente Glorieuses in France from 1945 to 1975. Rural communities and landscapes did not disappear during these years, but existed in complex relationship to urban populations, spaces, economies, and culture. "Modernization" was also a phenomenon in the countryside in various ways and the myth of an unchanging peasant world was just that.
Examining state infrastructural and agricultural plans and projects; a rising French and international interest in second, "country" homes; utopian rural experiments and environmental activisms; peasant autobiographies; and (sometimes) nostalgic representations of rural life and landscapes in photographs and other visual sources, the book considers a range of objects and perspectives from/on the French countryside. Packed with compelling stories, actors, and arguments about some of the fundamental contradictions that structured French society during this period, the book challenges us to question our assumptions about what we mean when we say or think "rural" and "postwar" together.
Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada who specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century France and its empire. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send her an email (email@example.com).