Harvey, David Allen 1971-
Harvey, David Allen 1971-
Born 1971. Education: Rice University, B.A.; Princeton University, Ph.D.
Office—New College of Florida, 5800 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, FL 34243-2109. E-mail—[email protected]
New College of Florida, Sarasota, assistant professor, 2000—.
Constructing Class and Nationality in Alsace, 1830-1945, Northern Illinois University Press (DeKalb, IL), 2001.
Beyond Enlightenment: Occultism and Politics in Modern France, Northern Illinois University Press (DeKalb, IL), 2005.
David Allen Harvey's 2001 book, Constructing Class and Nationality in Alsace, 1830-1945, is a study of class relationships among industrial workers in Alsace, a region of Europe where national boundaries between France and Germany shifted four times between 1871 and 1945. Harvey points out that in the mid-1800s, although Alsatian workers were deeply influenced by German culture, they identified themselves as French and republican. In response to attempts by France and Germany, successively, to impose one coherent nationality on the region, Alsatian workers developed their own class-based political identity, rejecting their strong German cultural roots in favor of political solidarity with France. Despite tacit acceptance of German nationality between 1890 and 1914, Alsatian workers expressed their ambivalence toward nationalism by joining the anti-Prussian German Social Democratic Party in large numbers. Though Alsatians welcomed the return of French control in 1918, they grew increasingly critical of French politics by 1945 and began pressing for status that would give them political autonomy.
In Beyond Enlightenment: Occultism and Politics in Modern France, Harvey examines the history of Martinism, a type of occult spiritual belief that originated in France in the late eighteenth century and lasted until the early twentieth century. Adherents of Martinism, which began as a mystical outgrowth of Freemasonry and was founded by Martinez de Pasqually and Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, believed in original sin and in redemption, but did not accept the idea of hell. Maintaining that human beings emanated directly from God and were innately divine, Martinists believed that human beings achieved salvation through a series of reincarnations and through occult practices derived from the Kabbalah and other mystical texts. Though Martinists were utopian and progressive in some ways, their politics were antidemocratic. As Thomas Kselman pointed out in his review of Beyond Enlightenment for Church History, Harvey and other historians have noted the movement's similarities to twentieth-century fascism. Responding to the violent social upheaval of the French Revolution, Martinists, Nineteenth-Century French Studies contributor Kieran Murphy stated, "aspired to use their occult knowledge to help society to regain that lost golden age of humanity" based on political rule by enlightened elites and on universal spiritual transcendence.
Harvey discusses Martinism's relationship to contemporary movements such as utopian socialism, Protestant revivalism, and ultramontanism, a philosophy within Roman Catholicism that emphasized the authority of the pope. He further analyses the sociopolitical underpinnings for much occult activity in early modern Europe, showing that occult beliefs enabled elite groups to believe that they were keeping alive some secret knowledge that would, eventually, help restore the monarchy and return France to its former glory and power. He explains how Martinism, which enjoyed a revival in the late nineteenth century, informed the ideas of such occultists as Stanislaus de Guaita and Gérard Encausse. Martinism, Harvey writes, was out of touch with the political realities within France and Europe in the late seventeenth and eighteen centuries, but was also "a creative response to social and intellectual dislocation."
Critics admired Harvey's skill in detailing the contexts in which Martinism developed. Kselman described Beyond Enlightenment as an "impressive and erudite" work and praised the "broad vision of occult culture" that Harvey provides in the book, showing it to have been, as Kselman stated, "a fascinating mix of historical mythmaking, transcendental desire, and mysterious rituals." Beyond Enlightenment, Murphy stated, is a "sober yet thought-provoking depiction of Martinists" that includes pertinent discussions of gender, politics, and other occult trends such as Theosophism, spiritualism, and fortune-telling. "Occultism doubtless played a great part in the construction of French identity," observed Murphy, "and, thanks to Harvey's contribution, it continues to develop as an important field of academic inquiry." Kselman also assessed the book favorably, noting that Martinism has previously received scant scholarly attention. Harvey, noted Kselman, "is one of several young scholars whose work in this field is opening up a world of spirits, séances, and occult science that held great meaning for many ordinary (and some extraordinary) French people of the nineteenth century."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Harvey, David Allen, Beyond Enlightenment: Occultism and Politics in Modern France, Northern Illinois University Press (DeKalb, IL), 2005.
American Historical Review, April 1, 2002, Stephen L. Harp, review of Constructing Class and Nationality in Alsace, 1830-1945, p. 630; December 1, 2006, James Smith Allen, review of Beyond Enlightenment, p. 1613.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, October 1, 2001, P.G. Wallace, review of Constructing Class and Nationality in Alsace, 1830-1945, p. 380.
Church History, March 1, 2007, Thomas Kselman, review of Beyond Enlightenment, p. 200.
German Studies Review, October 1, 2003, Roland Spickermann, review of Constructing Class and Nationality in Alsace, 1830-1945, pp. 637-638.
International Review of Social History, April 1, 2003, Keith Mann, review of Constructing Class and Nationality in Alsace, 1830-1945, pp. 103-106.
Journal of Modern History, December 1, 2002, Anthony J. Steinhoff, review of Constructing Class and Nationality in Alsace, 1830-1945, p. 868.
Nineteenth-Century French Studies, January 1, 2007, Kieran Murphy, review of Beyond Enlightenment: Occultism and Politics in Modern France, p. 471.
New College of Florida Web site,http://www.ncf.edu/ (July 21, 2008), Harvey faculty profile.