The historiography of an 'invisible nation'

Debating Brittany


  • Tudi Kernalegenn
  • Yann Fournis


Brittany appears to be an 'invisible nation', inasmuch the nationalist movement fails to establish a hegemonic representation of the Breton society as a nation in resistance against French nation building. This brief analysis of Breton historiography intends to show that two historiographical cycles (1830-1964 and from 1964 onwards) offer a contrasting narrative of the historicity of the Breton society. After a static and 'ontological' stage, the more recent conception of historical development is centred on a dynamic conception of the nation, highlighting the overlap of national and social issues in each historical phase. This 'refondation' contributes to a real inclusion of nationalism in the current Breton society but, too, nourishes severe polemics in the media around the history and historiography of the nationalist movement. Finally, the lately intervention of the scientific knowledge is welcomed: it helps to reframe these debates around significant facts, even if work is still needed to really understand the pending Breton paradox: a strong and recognised identity, which lacks any determinant political translation up to now.

Author Biographies

Tudi Kernalegenn

Tudi Kernalegenn (1979) works at the Institut d'Etudes politiques de Rennes, Centre de Recherches sur l'Action Politique en Europe (CRAPE) and teaches and carries out research at the universities of Rennes and Brest (France). His PhD, defended in 2011, compared regionalism in Brittany, Galicia and Scotland. He is now conducting research on the Breton Democratic Union and the regionalist and federalist issue in France (with Romain Pasquier) as well as on the 1960s and 1970s worldwide regionalist revival (with Yann Fournis and Jo Belliveau).

Yann Fournis

Yann Fournis (1974) is professor at the University of Quebec in Rimouski since 2008. He defended a thesis in Political Science at the University of Rennes 1 (Les régionalismes en Bretagne: la région et l'Etat, 1950-2000). His current research concerns the territorial development in Quebec and the epistemology of Regional Studies.



How to Cite

Kernalegenn, T., & Fournis, Y. (2013). The historiography of an ’invisible nation’: Debating Brittany. Studies on National Movements (SNM), 1, 81-104. Retrieved from




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