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For more than a century, Alsace was the most contested region in western Europe, a battleground for ethnic and cultural identity in an era of rampant nationalism. Harvey's compelling analysis of working-class politics and nationality explains the successive attempts of French and German authorities to impose one national identity on the region and shows how workers responded by adopting a cultural policy that reflected their own political and class interests.
Harvey argues that the course of historical events along the Rhine led Alsatians to identify finally with the French republican state even though Alsace was culturally closer to Germany than to France—the victory of politics and class over culture and blood. In addition to revealing the pragmatism of Alsatian workers, Harvey integrates their identity into regional history to portray the consecutive stages of the region's ongoing cultural definition. A complex dialogue between ideology and experience shaped the workers' successive embrace of French republicanism, German socialist democracy, and Alsatian autonomism, frustrating both French and German nationalists.
Based upon extensive archival research, Constructing Class and Nationality in Alsace will be of vital interest to those concerned with questions of collective identity, class, and political culture, as well as to students and scholars of both French and German history.
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David Allen Harvey is Assistant Professor of History at New College of the University of South Florida.Review:
"Innovative, well-written, and interesting."—French History
"One of the more stimulating recent accounts of collective identity construction in modern Europe."
—Journal of Modern History
"A good, well-written, and well-produced book.... Both the author and the press deserve praise for this volume."—American Historical Review
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