Alsace to the Alsatians?: Visions and Divisions of Alsatian Regionalism, 1870-1939 | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Alsace to the Alsatians?: Visions and Divisions of Alsatian Regionalism, 1870-1939

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Volume 5

Studies in Contemporary European History

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Alsace to the Alsatians?

Visions and Divisions of Alsatian Regionalism, 1870-1939

Christopher J. Fischer

254 pages, 12 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-724-2 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (March 2010)

ISBN  978-1-78238-394-9 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (April 2014)

eISBN 978-1-84545-806-5 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


Fischer excels at dissecting the complexities of politics and culture in a land firmly located “in between” two larger neighbors…The great merit of Fischer’s study is that it historically locates the tensions and ambiguities of Alsatian regionalism…Those interested in the history of border regions, and in the complex relationship between regional and national identities, will find in Fischer’s book rich material for further reflection.”  ·  French Politics, Culture & Society

“…a detailed and nuanced analysis of the various regional movements.  ·  European History Quarterly

In presenting Alsatian history from the perspective of Alsatian regionalists, Fischer makes a valuable contribution to the historiography of Alsace, and of Germany, France and regionalism more generally.”  ·  Australian Journal of Politics and History

Fischer’s prize-winning work gives evidence of much time spent in numerous archives. His lucid study, sober in thought, impartial in tone, detailed in construct, and thorough in research, offers a rewarding read for Alsatian history enthusiasts.”  ·  French Review

This is an erudite and thoughtful book that makes a solid contribution to the body of literature on Alsace available in English and also intersects with scholarship on the construction of national and regional identities in contemporary Europe…By demonstrating how culture brokers drew upon a shared past to articulate competing definitions of regional identity, Fischer contributes to our understanding of the ambiguities of regionalism in Alsace and elsewhere.  ·  American Historical Review

Scholars interested in the larger questions of how multilinguistic regions and borderlands developed and changed with the advent of nation-states will find it a valuable example of how modern nation-states’ claims of unity hfave proven complicated in practice.  ·  Central European History

“Fischer does an excellent job of fleshing out the complex debates generated by the drafting of a constitution for the Reichsland (1910–1911) and the Zabern Affair (1913–1914)…[The book] should be of particular interest to anyone interested in the studies of nationalism, borderlands, and the Heimatbewegung.  ·  German Studies Review

"...a fascinating and penetrating study .Fischer presents a nuanced analysis of Alsatian responses and shows how they were frequently contested, discontinuous, and even contradictory. General readers as well as scholars of France and Germany and those interested in problems of regionalism, nationalism, identity, memory, and cultural formation will find Alsace for the Alsatians? immensely beneficial and a pleasure to read."   ·  Vernon L. Lidtke, Johns Hopkins University

"Christopher J. Fischer offers a fascinating account of the development, evolution and varieties of regionalism in the border region of Alsace... The book is both readable and anchored in solid archival research. It offers a nuanced account of the complexities of regionalism in Alsace and its function in France and Germany. This volume will prove of particular interest to historians of modern Germany, and makes an important contribution to literature on regionalism, nation-building and borderlands in modern Europe"  ·  German History

“[A] wonderfully broad and at the same time an impressive in-depth study…Fischer blends cultural and political history in exemplary ways. The strong interlinkages between regionalism and Catholicism in Alsace is powerfully highlighted by Fischer’s narrative.”  ·  Stefan Berger, Professor of Modern German and Comparative European History, University of Manchester


The region of Alsace, located between the hereditary enemies of France and Germany, served as a trophy of war four times between 1870–1945. With each shift, French and German officials sought to win the allegiance of the local populace. In response to these pressures, Alsatians invoked regionalism—articulated as a political language, a cultural vision, and a community of identity—not only to define and defend their own interests against the nationalist claims of France and Germany, but also to push for social change, defend religious rights, and promote the status of the region within the larger national community. Alsatian regionalism however, was neither unitary nor unifying, as Alsatians themselves were divided politically, socially, and culturally. The author shows that the Janus-faced character of Alsatian regionalism points to the ambiguous role of regional identity in both fostering and inhibiting loyalty to the nation. Finally, the author uses the case of Alsace to explore the traditional designations of French civic nationalism versus German ethnic nationalism and argues for the strong similarities between the two countries’ conceptions of nationhood.

Christopher J. Fischer received both his Masters and Doctorate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He currently is an Associate Professor at Indiana State University.

He is also recipient of the Fritz Stern Prize awarded by the German Historical Institute and the Friends of the German Historical Institute.

Subject: History (General)
Area: FranceGermany


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