© 2012 – Routledge
The past hundred years of Europe are distilled in the experiences of the citizens of Strasbourg. From the turn of the twentieth century until 1945, Europe's ruling idea of nationalism rendered Strasbourg/StraÃŸburg the prize in a tug-of-war between the two greatest continental powers, France and Germany. Then, in the immediate post-war period, ideals for European unity set up various European institutions, some headquartered in Strasbourg, which have gradually created a partially supranational Europe. At the end of the 1950s, a third theme arises: the large-scale settling in Strasbourg and other such richer, western European cities of persons from poorer lands, frequently ex-colonial territories, whose appearance and cultural practices render them essentially "different" to local eyes: expressions of racism thereby jostle with professions of multiculturalism. Now in the globalisation era, the issue of "immigration" has broadened yet further into transnationalism: the experience of persons who are embedded in varying manner in both Strasbourg and in their land of origin. Based on in-depth, lively interviews with 80 men and 80 women ranging from 101 to 20 years, and from all over the world (France, Germany, Alsace-Lorraine, Portugal, Italy, ex-Yugoslavia, Albania, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Cameroon, and Afghanistan amongst other countries), the author draws out of these compelling testimonies all sorts of compelling insights into issues of identity, race, nationality, culture, politics, heritage and representation, giving a unique and valuable view of what it means (and has meant over the past century) to be a European.
'I have often hoped that a geographer would write a book about a place - say, a city - of such substance and originality that scholars in other disciplines simply have to take notice, learn from it, and thereby start a whole new trend. John Western's portrait of Strasbourg is such a book. Did I say portrait? Yes, I did, for it is a portrait and Western is the artist, but it is even more a self-portrait, drawn by 160 residents of all ages, occupations, and nationalities. Strasbourg, as a result, becomes vividly real, as a great novelist's city is real, as Dickens's London is real, and yet, because of Western's hidden hand guiding the narratives, teasing out their commonalities, and raising questions of varying scope, the book also illuminates urgent issues of the day. John Western's second masterpiece.' Yi-Fu Tuan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA 'No room for quibbling. What we have in Cosmopolitan Europe is clearly and simply a masterpiece. This volume is the culmination of John Western's career-long program of crafting a novel geographic genre: the quest for locational and ethnic allegiance among displaced populations as revealed through their own words. But in this beautifully written report we also have a sensitive chronicle of a hundred years of sudden shifts and turns in a comely and uniquely marginal-but-central metropolis that still remains undecided about its place within a troubled continent. Implicit in this argument with itself are questions about spatial rootedness that are becoming universal. Read and ponder.' Wilbur Zelinsky, Pennsylvania State University, USA 'Un chef d'Å“uvre.' Paul Claval, Université de Paris-Sorbonne, France ’A very special book. It really brings to life a place to which I've never been, yet I feel I know intimately by the end of your portrayal of it. The interview form works brilliantly, letting the narrative be told through the people of the city. A clever idea that is very hard to pull off, and the author succeeds wo