Tocqueville, Beaumont and the silences in histories of the United States: an interdisciplinary endeavour across literature and sociology

Margree, Victoria and Bhambra, Gurminder K (2011) Tocqueville, Beaumont and the silences in histories of the United States: an interdisciplinary endeavour across literature and sociology. Journal of Historical Sociology, 24 (1). pp. 116-131. ISSN 0952-1909

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Abstract

Taking the example of the intermittent presence and absence of narrativesof slavery, colonialism, and race within standard accounts of the US, we examine how Tocqueville’s sociological account of the emergence of democracy in America is transformed when read together with the novel,
Marie, written by his friend and travel companion, Beaumont, which addresses issues of American slavery and racism. Our interdisciplinary project proceeds by considering the possible contributions to historical sociology of analysis of literary narratives, and by exploring the translation of social realities into fiction. These interdisciplinary translations, we argue, highlight the specific issue of silences within mainstream narratives about American democracy and enable us to reassess the significance of silences within historiographies of modernity. In particular, the neglect of Beaumont’s contribution has given rise to an appropriation of Tocqueville to a largely celebratory account of American democracy and has elided his concern with the lasting consequences of slavery and racism.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2017 15:25
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2017 15:25
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/70690
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