CORDIS - EU research results

The Family at War in French Culture, 1870-1914

Project description

Remembering the 'forgotten war'

The Franco-Prussian War represents a traumatic moment in France's history and an important period marking the formation of modern Europe. Fought on French soil, the war provoked deep political and social changes. However, while the First World War is extensively studied, this 1870-1871 war is described as the 'forgotten war'. The EU-funded FAMWAR project will focus on the war's traumatic experience for the families, as well provoking mass separation and affecting gender relations. It will investigate how the family's experience of this war was represented in the cultural production in the period between 1870-1871 and the First World War.


"FAMWAR investigates how the familial experience of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 was represented in the cultural production of the first four and a half decades of the Third Republic. The years 2014-18 have seen a vast reflection on the European experience of the First World War. One of the most successful aspects of this has been the way more traditional military and diplomatic history has dovetailed with the modern concerns of cultural, social and gender history. It is the aim of FAMWAR to apply these insights to what might be termed ""the war before the First World War"", namely the Franco-Prussian War. Fought almost exclusively on French soil, the war was a traumatic experience for France, not just politically (with the fall of Napoleon III's Second Empire; the birth of the Third Republic in September 1870, which would last until the Second World War; and the civil war of the Paris Commune in 1871), but also socially (in the two sieges of Paris, and in the battlefield experience and its effects on the provincial population). Wars, we know from the twentieth-century experience of two world wars, involve on all sides the mass separation, damage and reconfiguration of families; and in particular, the shifting of gender relations in and beyond the family. It is precisely the intensity of the twentieth-century European experience of war which has turned 1870-71 into what has been called ""the forgotten war"". Yet 1870-71 represents a key foundational moment in the invention of modern Europe (when France finally embraced republicanism for good, and Germany was born as a nation-state). How, we shall ask, was the family's experience of this war remembered in literature, journalism and iconography? It is the aim of the current project to correct that oversight, not least as the 150th anniversary of the war approaches, and not least because it is the experience of the Franco-Prussian War which French and German people carried, within living memory, into war in 1914."


Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom

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East of England East Anglia Cambridgeshire CC
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 212 933,76