March 31, 2004

Prof. Publishes E.U. Book

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Today, the world is a much smaller place, and as a result cultural identities can shift due to the political landscape. Prof. Mabel Berezin, sociology, led the study of this phenomenon in the recently published anthology, Europe Without Borders:

Remapping Territory, Citizenship and Identity in a Transnational Stage. The book, which Berezin co-edited with New York University Professor Martin Schain, is an interdisciplinary perspective on the change of the Europeans’ view of national and cultural identity after the creation of the European Union.

“By taking an interdisciplinary approach, it combines cultural and political institutions,” she said.

Traditionally, books focused exclusively on the political science or anthropology, but rarely integrated the two subjects. In Berezin’s anthology, contributors range the gambit of academic disciplines — sociology, political science, anthropology and geography.

“I am quite proud that a major press [Johns Hopkins] put the book out,” she said, “especially since anthologies are not usually very profitable.”

The book addresses distinct questions about present European life. The main cause is to explore what happens when social institutions change. Also, it draws conclusions about the link between the social and political mechanisms of the current European states. It focuses on the European national identity, and if Europeans consider themselves citizens of their home country or of a larger socio-political identity.

“When I proposed the idea, I was surprised at the number of people doing work around this frame, many people wanted to be a part of it,” she said.

The essays are split into four sections, the spatial and historical characteristics of Europe as a political community, the impact of the European Union from a policy-oriented and historical perspective, Europeans’ view of the “New Europe” and the tensions and complexities of the new vision of Europe.

One particularly interesting part of the book is the involvement of geography in the research of political and cultural identity.

“Too often people view the world as a small place, and overlook the emotional attachment given to one’s space,” she said.

Berezin developed the interest in considering geography and space with political and social identity when she instructed at UCLA. She combined her geographic interest with study of the French National Front — a right wing party — and began to wonder about the reasons for the creation of public identity.

Berezin previously enjoyed success with her book, Making the Fascist Self: The Political Culture of Interwar Italy. Published in 1997, she won an award for Outstanding Academic Book from the Choice Group.

With a unique focus and a diverse group of contributors, Berezin’s anthology will prove to be useful to any instructors of European history, politics, sociology, or anthropology.

Archived article by Steve Angelini
Sun Staff Writer