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April 13, 1998

UCSC historian receives France's highest academic honor

Jonathan Beecher

By Barbara McKenna

A UCSC professor of history has received the French Government's highest honor for academic achievement.

Jonathan Beecher has been awarded France's Palmes Academiques--a decoration given to those who have advanced the cause of French culture, education, and the arts. The Palmes Academiques was established in 1808 by Napoleon and is the most prestigious decoration a scholar can receive from the French Government.

Beecher teaches French history and European and Russian intellectual history. The medal honors his work on French utopian socialist Charles Fourier. Beecher's research on Fourier resulted in the publication, in 1986, of the book, Charles Fourier: The Visionary and His World. The book was translated and published in France in 1993 as part of the popular biographical series published by the Librairie Fayard in Paris.

"I'm thrilled," Beecher said. "I was particularly eager for the book to be read and well received in France, and I think it was."

Beecher is the second UCSC faculty member to be awarded the Palmes. UCSC's first recipient is lecturer in French Herve Le Mansec. France's Consul Honoraire for San Jose and Silicon Valley, Le Mansec received the medal in 1993.

"The Palmes Academiques is rarely awarded to foreign scholars," Le Mansec said. "But Jonathan is considered a leading researcher on socialist and French utopias. This award recognizes the importance of his book, which is regarded as the best work to date on Fourier."

The medal will be presented to Beecher by the French cultural attache from San Francisco in a private ceremony.

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