chapter  10
French concepts of state: nation, patrie, and the Overseas
ByULLA HOLM
Pages 7

Commemorating the centennial of the conquest of Algeria in 1831, a huge colonial exposition was held in Paris in 1931 which glorified the French position as the world’s second largest overseas empire. The event represented the zenith of the concept of la plus grande France (Greater France). The image of a France of 100 million inhabitants, spread across five continents was represented as forming the national republican conscience – the hexagon constituted a mere twenty-third of this empire. The French empire was thought of within the frame of the nationstate, thus expanding the principle of the indivisibility of the national territory to the entire empire (Girardet 1972: 186). At the same time, however, the copy of the beautiful temples of Anghor Vat and the exotic clothing of people from the Overseas should demonstrate that the enlargement of the French nation-state also left room for different cultures. Hence, the diversity of the empire and unity of the enlarged nation-state were represented as living peacefully together.