Louis Mandrin and the Politics of Consumption


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project examines the political implications of the birth of modern consumption in France. Although historians have demonstrated that eighteenth-century France experienced a consumer revolution, they have failed to explore that revolution's political ramifications. The project links prerevolutionary politics to the history of consumption by examining the career and legend of the famous smuggler, Louis Mandrin. Mandrin's violent defiance of the law, and his subsequent trial and execution, politicized smuggling and turned him into a popular legend. By considering how Mandrin challenged the institutional foundations of the monarchy, this study illuminates the violence and political conflict that accompanied the birth of modern consumer society.