- Ethnic Europe: Mobility, Identity, and Conflict in a Globalized World
This lively, informative, and thought-provoking interdisciplinary collection of nine essays explores the effects that globalization and immigration have had on ethnic identities in Europe. In the first of three parts, sociologists Saskia Sassen, Rogers Brubaker, and Salvador Cardús offer creative new models for approaching the “ethnic question” in contemporary Europe and understanding how the concept of ethnicity continues to define who does and who does not belong within the European community. Sassen reveals that within an expanding and globalizing Europe, new immigrants have the opportunity to develop multilayered identities and a sense of belonging based on “concentric membership” to local, national, and global communities. Thus the concept of ethnicity itself needs to be redefined. Brubaker proposes that in order to properly understand ethnic identity one needs to differentiate between the social and political. While the collection as a whole attempts to move away from an overly simplistic East versus West binary, here Brubaker nonetheless demonstrates major differences with regard to ethnicity, which he defines as “a perspective on the world, not a thing in the world” (p. 49). Most notably, his research shows that the increased power of the European Union over nation-states has provided the institutional framework for ethnic minorities in Western European nations to make demands for self-determination, while in the East the European Union now acts as a modern-day Austro-Hungarian Empire by diffusing ethnic tensions. Cardús, for his part, argues that it is the mobility of individuals, rather than the role of institutions or communities, that is reshaping ethnicity and transforming societies.
Ethnicity nonetheless continues to exclude groups and individuals from full membership to nations and the wider European community, and these “divided lines” are explored in the collection’s second part. Alec Hargreaves uncovers the paradox of French discourses of [End Page 747] ethnicity and its consequences. On the one hand, according to the principles of French republicanism, ethnicity has no place in public discourse since all Frenchmen, by definition, are French. Yet the growing popularity of the racist, anti-immigrant, right-wing party, the Front National, as well as the continued economic, social, and political marginalization of ethnic minorities, in particular France’s significant Muslim population, tells a very different story. Moreover, as Hargreaves clearly demonstrates, the reluctance to acknowledge ethnicity and the lack of ethnic data gathering have arguably had a detrimental effect on the very groups who would most benefit from improved services designed to address the very real challenges caused by ethnicity and to help them integrate into the French community. While immigrants to France, as well as much of Western Europe, generally come from beyond Europe’s borders, ethnic tensions in Eastern Europe, and in particular in the Balkans, are generally the result of internal migration. Pavle Levi, through his interview with and comments from the film-maker Želimir Žilnik, offers a unique perspective on questions of identity, interethnic relations, and exclusion within the border regions of the former Yugoslavia. Since the 1960s, Žilnik has documented these “internal exiles,” and Levi highlights the role that art and film can play in challenging long-held prejudices and forging greater ethnic integration and understanding.
The third part of the collection brings us back to the questions originally addressed in part 1, by exploring the “promising ties” that could lead to greater ethnic unity within Europe. Bassam Tibi voices his frustration with his fellow Muslim immigrants who have embraced Islamist fundamentalism as a means of forging a sense of identity and belonging in their adopted nations. While recognizing that the systemic discrimation of Muslims by European states and their non-Muslim citizens needs to be eradicated, Tibi sees the integration of Muslims as a two-way street: Muslims themselves need to embrace European civic values to create a new form of European Islam. The question of Turkey’s eventual inclusion in Europe, and whether Turks will ever be considered “European,” is explored...