Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall

Oct 20, 2022

The Abbe Gregoire and the French Revolution

The Making of Modern Universalism

University of California Press 2021

In this age of globalization, the eighteenth-century priest and abolitionist Henri Grégoire have often been called a man ahead of his time. An icon of anti-racism, a hero to people from Ho Chi Minh to French Jews, Grégoire has been particularly celebrated since 1989, when the French government placed him in the Pantheon as a model of ideals of universalism and human rights. 

In The Abbe Gregoire and the French Revolution: The Making of Modern Universalism (U California Press, 2021), we gain access for the first time to the full complexity of Grégoire's intellectual and political universe and the compelling nature of his persona. His life offers an extraordinary vantage from which to view significant issues in European and world history in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It provides provocative insights into many of the twenty-first century's prevailing tensions, ideals, and paradoxes. Focusing on Grégoire's idea of "regeneration," that people could literally be made anew, Sepinwall argues that revolutionary universalism was more complicated than it appeared. Tracing the Revolution's long-term legacy, she suggests that while it spread concepts of equality and liberation throughout the world, its ideals also helped to justify colonialism and conquest.

Dr. Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall is a Professor of History at California State University – San Marcos and a French and Haitian history specialist. Brigid Wallace a Graduate Student of History @Lehigh University.

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Brigid Wallace is a Graduate Student in the History Department at Lehigh University. (Twitter: @faithismine51)

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