Empire's Legacy: New Book by Professor Jack Veugelers

January 20, 2020 by Susha Guan

Professor John W.P. Veugelers' newly published book, Empire's Legacy: Roots of a Far-Right Affinity in Contemporary France, analyzes the local politics and historical context to explain the emergence of far-right support for the National Front in Toulon. Veugelers examines the extent of far-right power at the local level and how the government can pose barriers to extremist success. Veugelers innovatively explores contemporary politics through a subcultural approach that connects social networks to symbolic codes.

Jack Veugelers is an Associate Professor Sociology at the University of Toronto with teaching responsibilities at the St. George campus. His research interests include right-wing extremism and the politics of immigration in Canada and Europe (especially France and Italy).

The book's publisher, Oxford University Press, includes the following synopsis:

Many argue that globalization and its discontents explain the strength of populism and nativism in contemporary Europe, Latin America, and the United States. In France, though, an older potential born of imperialism has propelled the far right of Jean-Marie and Marine Le Pen.

To explain how the National Front gained a foothold in France, Empire's Legacy connects local politics with historical developments that span nearly two centuries. Its analysis hinges on the idea of political potential: the possibility that a social group will support a movement, pressure group, political party, or other organized option. Starting from the French conquest of Algeria, John W.P Veugelers follows the career of a potential, showing how it erupted into support for the National Front in Toulon, the largest city under the far right of any postwar European democracy.

Relying on archival research, electoral surveys, and personal interviews, Veugelers shows that voluntary associations, interest-group politics, and patron-client relations knit together a far-right affinity bequeathed by French imperialism. Veugelers examines the possibilities and limits of far-right power at the local level, moreover, and the barriers that effective, scandal-free government pose to extremist success.

Exploring new terrain in the study of contemporary politics, Empire's Legacy makes the case for a subcultural approach that connects social networks to symbolic codes.