Nîmes: A Dictionary to Introduce the Present and Past of Occitania

Nîmes: A Dictionary to Introduce the Present and Past of Occitania

Catherine Berney-Boissard directs a “Family Dictionary of Occitania,” with 157 entries and 35 authors defining a vast and contrasting region.

As Catherine Berney-Boissard explains in the introduction to “Seven years and two elections” after the creation of Occitania, combining Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrenees, “we see that this region is still little known”, including the inhabitants. . “Seven years is the age of reason,” smiles the geographer who runs the familiar dictionary of Occitania, which brings together the contributions of thirty-five authors and 157 entries.

This lack of knowledge is the result of many factors. “It is a very large area, larger than Ireland and very contrasting, even if a small balcony, with a Mediterranean facade. There are mountains, the Cevennes, a cultural region before being topologically recognized, the Pyrenees, a vast cross-border area. An agricultural plain with world-renowned viticulture”. This diversity can also be seen at the economic level, “the coexistence of two metropolises and a series of medium-sized towns in the Middle Ages and Antiquity.” There are also rural spaces “close to cities, very attractive, and others very far away.”

It is from this plural territory that this dictionary strives to make the field accurate and highly accessible. Entries are about political or artistic figures, historical events, major cities and economic activities to identify Occitania in its past and present. Connections between entries and authors are made by selected affinities, a panel that goes beyond academics. Eddie Ponce evokes flamenco, Jean-Pierre Michel, Jacques Teyssier bullfighting, Robert Malclés the history of the city, Pierre-Edouard Detres rugby, Jacques-Olivier Durand theater…

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Opus does not have an encyclopedia. It gives a broad picture of Occitania, with some biases. The first is about the position of women, an essay dedicated to Madeleine Brés, the first woman doctor born in Boillergues. Women also appear with the “Writers” or “Feminisms” entry, an opportunity to rediscover the history of Lotoise Arria Ly, who heralded the #metoo movement in the early 20th century. Another strong axis is research and environment, questions about global warming, biodiversity and all activities “to better understand the current world without eco-concerns” but knowing local possibilities to solve problems.

“Family Dictionary of Occitania” under the direction of Catherine Berney-Boissard. Editions Kane, 264 pages. €20.
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