The Society for the Study of French History and The Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France and Institut Français, Royaume-Uni present the Douglas Johnson Memorial Lecture, Monday 14th January 2019.
Too hot to handle? Flora Tristan (1803-1844), campaigner for gender equality
Professor Máire Cross (Newcastle University)
Flora Tristan was described in the contemporary English and Irish press reporting on France of the 1830s and 40s as an ‘authoress’, ‘female political economist’ and ‘agitator’. One of the first ever to combine a feminist and socialist programme, her 1843 publication Union Ouvrière outsold those of her contemporaries: Proudhon’s Qu’est-ce que la propriété? and Marx’s Manifeste communiste, but those better-known authors scarcely acknowledged her. Her books did not altogether vanish from circulation after her untimely death in 1844, but enough for political activists to refer to her subsequently as a ‘forgotten heroine’. Labelled as a ‘precursor’ to feminism and the ‘cousin of Marx’, her life and work were recorded in depth by a historian of early international socialism, Jules- L Puech and published in 1925. The lecture will explore efforts by activists and historians to recover the memory of Flora Tristan whose brief but intense political career in France illustrates a diverse approach redolent of campaigns of the twenty-first century.