Dear Jean-François Colosimo, Dear Pierre Nora, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I must say that it is rather intimidating to speak in front of such a
assembly. Intelligentsias can sometimes be scary. Except when they
join, as is the case for all of you here tonight, that Pierre Nora
calls for the «fight against shrinking curiosities».
Much will have been said during this day. I will just come back
very briefly on a few features that characterize your contribution
exceptional to the cultural life of our Republic.
First there is Pierre Nora, the historian, who has dedicated a life to
the culture and political traditions of our contemporary history.
The extraordinary editorial adventure of the Lieux de mémoire has become a
reference for all citizen history, at the service of collective memory
and freedom of spirit. Despite our differences, in our discussions on
House of the history of France whose idea owes so much to your approach, I had
the chance to have with you an interlocutor who carries in him all
the demands of the French intellectual scene.
There is, of course, and it is inseparable, Pierre Nora the publisher, by whom will be
the greatest titles in the French humanities
past decades.
The publisher who has succeeded in transforming difficult works into
I am thinking of Montaillou, an Occitan village,
by Emmanuel Le Roy-Ladurie, or Michel’s words and things
A publisher who has done so much to break down the barriers between the
their only forced audiences. I think of the visibility you have given
the linguistics of Emile Benveniste; what you have done
to make the major scientific debates accessible to the general public
for example by publishing La Logique du Vivant by François
To break down barriers to knowledge, it is necessary to be able to see clearly through
and conspiracies of the Latin Quarter. In this
universe where you have imposed yourself, you have been able to preserve
and remain an intellectual citizen, whose concern for
first has always been to preserve the autonomy of intellectual activity.
And then there is the magazine «Le Débat», which you have been running for a little more than
30 years with Marcel Gauchet. With you, the intellectual magazine
reinvented, in this unique blend where the general can cross the most
particular, where the debate of ideas, avoiding all inferences,
contributes to the continued creation of what Habermas has defined as
“the public space”.
Major magazines such as “Le Débat” are perhaps a singularity
French. They are, I think, a very valuable form of interaction between
academic ivory towers and the risk of discussion. That is why
I am delighted that Jean-François Colosimo is working to support
social sciences and humanities journals and thought-provoking journals
increase their international visibility by supporting their
translation into English, so that
specificities of all conceptual traditions that have been
the French language.
Proponents of “French-style” self-denigration soon said,
that since the death of the great masters, the French humanities
would only benefit from the aura of an editorial supernova of which you
have been the prime contractor. But for my part, I don’t give much
credit to these twilight visions. The rules of the game and traffic
knowledge has changed, the figure of the intellectual too, perhaps less
inclined that before to enthrone stars of thought. So much the better, without
doubt. For their part, magazines, digitized or not, remain this unit of
reference that preserves the time of reflection in the face of the dictatorships of
the urgency, the time of thought against all forms of complacency
for the memory emotions alone. To all those who share the spirit of
this noble undertaking, I want to say with you: We must continue the
Thank you.