My conference paper is still an editing nightmare. Oh, it’s getting written, but I think it has a ‘mind of its own’ rather than ‘writes itself.’ I’m trying hard to keep it under the time limit, but I resent losing the color that is present in the corresponding chapters. I’m might lop off a lot of “pre-history” (the other two papers are on Alsace pre-1918) and discussion about Reichsreform (reform of the German territories and redrawing of boundaries.) I also need to fit in some discussion about the necessity of regional history as histoire croisée. Anyway, here’s the intro so far:

An article written by Vermeil in 1926 may have confirmed the worst fears of the French government: the Rhenish separatists, expelled from Germany and finding exile in France, were attempting to make common cause with autonomists in Alsace. French propangandists (like Maurice Barrès) had depicted both as victims of Prussian hegemony. Now the separatists, to whom France gave support, became rabble rousers who would radicalize the autonomists, encouraging them to support a project for a trans-Rhenish, Catholic federation that would stand between France and Germany. The fears were exaggerated. Despite the irony that the former agents of French occupation in the Rhineland would ‘come home to roost,’ Alsatian autonomists (as well as the population) sympathized with, but did not join, their former co-nationals. The scare reflected the tendency to analyze problems in Alsace in the light of conditions in Rhineland, and vice-versa.

Nonetheless, there was something uncanny about the similar political climates of these border regions. Both hosted movements that aggressively advocated autonomy either within or from the nation. In the broader sense, Rhinelanders and Alsatians found themselves in the same situation: the transition from empire to republic raised questions about the nature of regions–their independent existence, their relationship with the nation, and transnationalism. Although Alsatians and Rhinelanders were uncertain how the coming of the republic would affect them, it was also an opportunity to think of new possibilities: to balance the nation and its parts and allow diversity to flower.

Rhenish regionalism and Alsatian regionalism appeared to be ascending at a time in which “minority” movements grasped at internationalism to balance their relationships with national governments. Despite common ideas and the simultaneity of regionalisms, the two movements experienced radically different fortunes. German governments came to see regionalism as a tool to strengthen Germany unity, in spite of its critique of national unity. The cultural politics of the provincial self-government encouraged a sophisticated understanding of the Rhineland’s organic unity, its relationship with Western Europe, and its membership in the German nation. Consequently, separatism gave way to a subtler advocacy for territorial rights and regional interests.

French government seemed always at war with regionalism in Alsace, no matter how moderate, temporary or practical it was. Exploration of regionalism was itself regarded as a foreign import. Moderate regionalism struggled to maintain a clear message while attacked by integrationists and radical autonomists. Ironically, Alsatian regionalism, stronger and more cohesive in 1914, became ineffective while Rhenish regionalism, almost non-existent before 1918, succeeded at pushing a for regional interests. In the Rhineland, regionalism shed the reputation of separatism. Contrarily, regionalism in Alsace was overshadowed by autonomism.


It’s rutting season, and Milli has been giving everyone longing looks. Too bad he won’t survive the month without getting fixed–we can’t take much more of his overexcitement.

Posting has been light for some simple reasons. First, I am sick of staring at my computer. Preparing for the baby has required a lot of extra time on the internet, comparing prices of products and examining safety records. It doesn’t take long before I crave fresh air and human contact. Luckily my wife has a good humor about things: she even hums the theme to Alfred Hitchcock Presents along with me.

Second, I am preparing a paper for the SFHS next month. Of course, it deals with regionalism in Alsace and Rhineland as a strategy for integration into the republic. Comparing the two, I hope to show that Germany’s tolerance of regional studies in Rhineland moderated regionalism, allowing it strengthen national sentiment, whereas French intolerance created mistrust that fragmented regionalism, creating weak moderate movements and strong radical autonomy. They’ll be other stuff too, about the nature of regionalism in the 1920s and 30s. The good news: all the stuff is coming from what I have already written. The bad news: it’s three chapters of material I must condense into a twenty minute talk. I can complain about giving myself too much work, but eventually I would have to give a talk of this scope anyone, so…

Enough of Spain: leaders in Madrid fear that the Catalonia example will encourage other Spanish states to claim autonomy for themselves, disaggregating the state. So far the government has had a wait and see approach, but several military leader has ‘hinted’ at military intervention (Jose Mena Aguado, Roberto Gonzalez Calderon.) A survey taken over the weekend (in dialect) showed that 54.5% of Catalonians think that Catalonia is a nation within Spain. 42.8% think that they are just as Spanish as they are Catalan, 24% think they are more Catalan, 15.2% think that they a just Catalan. Prevailing sentiment seems to be working againt strengthening ties with the center.

Royal-Sarkozy in the making: it appears that the upcoming French elections will be a battle between minister of interior Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal, deputy in the French National Assembly. Royal appears to be significantly more popular than former PM Lionel Jospin, but at this early stage it is difficult to tell how successful she can be: outside the left, Jospin is significantly more popular than Royal, and Sarkozy’s popularity seems to be unshaken.

Perhaps something that is weighing down both Royal and Jospin: the significant increase in taxes in régions led by the socialist party (PS.) Blame is being put on 2003 reforms by Raffarin that took competencies away from the national government, but while PS-led Burgundy has seen a 64% increase, neighboring Alsace has seen only a 2.5% increase. The French press is having fewer problems with regionalism than the PS: the pattern of consolidation shows the formation of three distinct zones in the greater east, greater Brittany, and in the southeast, in which one or a few native news agencies dominate.

Sarkozy, prolific as usual, appeared in Berlin to sell a fix to the EU constitution, recommending removing key articles (double majority, stable presidency, singular ministry of foreign affair) and proposing. He also advocated a new center, adding Britain, Italy, Poland and Spain to the current “Franco-German engine.”

Despite resolving to send a force into DR Congo to oversee upcoming elections, no members of the European Union have contributed to the force. At the heart of the problem, “not one of the three nations [Britain, France, and Germany] capable of conducting such an operation has volunteered to take direct action.” France refuses because it has been engaged with Congolese problems since 2003, Britain because it is engaged elsewhere, and Germany because it will only participate in a multinatioal force (such as the delayed rapid response force.)

More and more, the French justice system is seeing the kidnapping and murder of Ilan Halimi as a hate crime: he was attacked because he was a Jew, but was it because of the stereotype of the rich Jew, or an act of antisemitism. Prime suspect, gangster leader Youssouf Fofana, has quit the country. Some German authorities, including Bavaria’s Stoiber, are calling for a ban on a Turkish action film, Tal der Woelfe (Valley of the Wolves), that is set in Iraq, is blatantly anti-western and antisemitic, and as some opine, could only worsen relations between Europeans and Arabs, validating a hate-driven war of civilizations. (Armin Laschet, CDU-NRW) Over the weekend, Martin Jacques wrote and editorial in the Guardian that Europeans display a destructivec contempt for other cultures, manifested by reactions to the Danish cartoon controversy, and their Eurocentrism is becoming provincialism.

Interesting read: on the destruction of Tajikastan’s last synagogue.