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Disaster / Désastre: The Visual Legacy of the Paris Commune in America, 1871 – 1877

Author: Ethan Alcock (University of Arizona)

  • Disaster / Désastre: The Visual Legacy of the Paris Commune in America, 1871 – 1877

    Articles

    Disaster / Désastre: The Visual Legacy of the Paris Commune in America, 1871 – 1877

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Abstract

The Paris Commune of 1871 had a lasting legacy in American print and visual culture of the late 19th century. This article examines the influence of the commune on U.S. politics from 1871 to 1877 by comparing widely circulated images of the commune with depictions of the Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. It uncovers a visual history of U.S. labor struggle which has generally been ignored by scholarship on the American understanding of the Paris Commune. This visual culture shows that bourgeois commentators drew on a “prosthetic memory” of the Commune to argue against workers revolt and more generally to condemn the working class. In particular commentators drew on themes of arson and the destruction of monuments of western modernity to vilify poor Americans.

How to Cite:

Alcock, E., (2023) “Disaster / Désastre: The Visual Legacy of the Paris Commune in America, 1871 – 1877”, Arizona Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 9, 1-25.

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Published on
23 May 2023
Peer Reviewed