darryl leroux on genealogy in quebec
Genealogy, or the study of one’s ancestral patri-lineage, has a long and esteemed pedigree in French Canadian and Québécois history. From Cyprien Tanguay’s late-nineteenth-century encyclopedias to René Jetté’s updated versions more than a century later, genealogy has been an important component of French Canadian nationalisms. Tracing one’s ancestry back to the early St. Lawrence settlement in the seventeenth century has provided Québécois subjects with opportune political and social capital with which to make territorial and national claims legitimate. Through a case study approach, I explain how genealogy provides the grounds upon which Québécois and French subjects remember a shared past. Specifically, I examine a variety of sites of memory in the French countryside, including a museum that relies on ‘genealogics’ to call the French Canadian Québécois back to its roots. As such, I demonstrate how the biological, read as a contemporary articulation of Balibar’s notion of the racial supplément necessary to nation building, travels across the Atlantic.
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