Browsing Tag

cultural studies


The Body and the Screen: Female Subjectivities in Contemporary Women’s Cinema by Kate Ince

Reviewed by Michelle Royer

Since the 1980s, Western countries have seen an increasing number of films by female directors who challenge the mainstream representation of women, and attempt to present women’s lives and identities in a new light. Kate Ince’s volume offer new readings of several key French and British female filmmakers of the last twenty-five years, and shows that feminist philosophers can provide the tools for rethinking female subjectivities in cinema.

Histories of Nationalism in Ireland and Germany: A Comparative Study from 1800 to 1932 by Shane Nagle

Reviewed by Fearghal McGarry

The comparative approach has long been recognized as an effective means of analyzing nationalism, even if studies of nationalist movements remain mostly confined within nation-state frameworks. While the appeal of nationalist rhetoric is rooted in its claim to represent the unique values, aspirations, and destiny of a specific national community, comparative studies emphasize the political and cultural commonalities shared by various brands of nationalism.

The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Europe: A History by Rita Chin

Reviewed by Michelle Lynn Kahn

As rightwing nativist parties gain traction across the Continent, Europeans’ fraught relationship to ethnically and religiously diverse minority populations, and particularly Muslim migrants, is at the forefront of national and international debates. These debates cannot, however, be understood solely in the vacuum of the ongoing “refugee crisis,” nor in light of the rising Islamophobia since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy by Daniel Ziblatt

Reviewed by Henri-Pierre Mottironi

While many fear a possible retreat of democracy following these reactionary surges, Daniel Ziblatt’s Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy demonstrates that strong and well-organized conservative parties paradoxically played a crucial role in the democratization and constitutional stability of European countries from the nineteenth century to the Second World War.

American Girls in Red Russia: Chasing the Dream by Julia L. Mickenberg

Reviewed by Samantha Lomb

Julia Mickenberg’s American Girls in Red Russia, touches on such diverse topics as American women’s participation in pre-1917 revolutionary movements, famine relief in during the Civil War period, the creation of an American colony in Siberia, the establishment of an American-run English language newspaper in Moscow, modern dance, African-American theater and film performances, and creating pro-Russian World War II propaganda.

TV Socialism by Anikó Imre

Reviewed by Stefan Zimmermann

This volume offers a mesmerizing gaze into the television industry behind the iron curtain, providing television scholars, who have ignored Soviet and Soviet bloc television, an opportunity to learn about the industry and culture.

Russian History through the Senses: From 1700 to the Present, edited by Matthew P. Romaniello and Tricia Starks

Reviewed by Steven G. Marks

What do we gain from looking at Russian history through the senses? On one level, it places front and center certain realities that are taken for granted or ignored in the scholarly literature. For instance, the cold climate that shocked the systems of early modern visitors from the West, as chronicled in Matthew P. Romaniello’s entry. Paying attention to the senses can also open our eyes to a new dimension of warfare, which is vividly illustrated in articles by Laurie S. Stoff on nurses in World War One and Steven G. Jug on soldiers in World War Two.

Disrupted Landscapes: State, Peasants, and the Politics of Land in Postsocialist Romania by Stefan Dorondel

Reviewed by Georgeta Stoian Connor

Disrupted Landscapes is a valuable contribution to the study of environmental politics of Romania generally, and to an understanding of the transformations of land relations since the fall of the Golden Age era specifically. As the title suggests, we learn significant information about the workings of power in rural areas and the social and political mechanisms behind them. The volume brings together in one resource Dorondel’s impressive quantity of work on the topic of the transformation of the agrarian landscape of postsocialist Romania during the transition from collectivization to privatization.

Friendship, Family, Revolution: Nikolai Charushin and a Generation of Populists of the 1870s

Reviewed by Aleksandr Iakovlevich Gudov

Nikolai Charushin does not rank among the pantheon of famous historical figures, but this has its positive side. Charushin’s story demonstrates that the revolutionary movement in the last decades of the nineteenth century recruited new members not only from the educated strata of St. Petersburg or Moscow, but from the Russian periphery as well. This allows the reader to be able to learn a lot about the life of a provincial Russian town, of prison and exile, and about the relationship between the authorities and the revolutionaries in the periphery.

The Eurasian Wheat Belt and Food Security: Global and Regional Aspects by Sergio Gomez y Paloma,‎ Sébastien Mary, and Stephen Langrell

Reviewed by Judith Pallot

The problem of global food security was brought into sharp relief in 2008-2011 in food riots in the global south and the Arab Spring. These crises witnessed a sharpening of debate about how to feed the world. Advocates of the traditional food security approach maintain that the answer lies in “aid and trade” based on the world-price-governed staple food circuits that emerged in the twentieth century, and large-scale, high external-input corporate farms.

Charlemagne by Johannes Fried

Reviewed by Carey Fleiner

The author emphasizes how the creation of the emperor’s distinct image of warrior king and saintly ruler was consciously fashioned in the historical record from the start.

The European Union’s Fight Against Terrorism: Discourse, Policies and Identity by Christopher Baker-Beall

Reviewed by Alessandra Russo

2016 was marked by EU’s inter-institutional negotiations on a new Directive on combatting terrorism, aiming to reinforce the EU’s legal framework in preventing terrorist attacks. The Directive also complements the current legislation on the rights for the victims of terrorism and envisages enhanced rules for information exchange between the member states related to terrorist offences gathered in criminal proceedings

Berlin Rules: Europe and the German Way by Paul Lever

Reviewed by Kurt Huebner

Since the global financial crisis, Germany experienced a massive turnaround of its fate and today is widely seen as the dominant power in Europe–in Lever’s words: Berlin rules. Over the last couple of years, the idea that Germany is again dominating Europe has become a mainstream view, not only in media, but also in scholarly literature.

What is a Refugee? by William Maley

Reviewed by Alex Sager

The conditions in detention are appalling, commonly leading to suicide and self-harm. Many detainees have lived in limbo for years while they wait to see if they will be resettled.

Migration, Memory, and Diversity: Germany from 1945 to the Present edited by Cornelia Wilhelm

Reviewed by Lauren Stokes

Reading the headlines in the summer of 2015, one might think that migration was a wholly new challenge for Europeans and specifically for Germans. Many of the contributors to this volume are explicit about their desire to intervene in this political culture of historical amnesia and in doing so contribute to what editor Cornelia Wilhelm identifies as “a new, more inclusive understanding of Germanness and of Germany’s role as a destination for immigrants.

Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands by Stuart Hall

Reviewed by Graeme Turner

The primary task undertaken in Familiar Stranger is one of intensely thoughtful theoretical introspection, an introspection that is directed at understanding the processes of cultural and intellectual self-fashioning that had gone into the formation of one of the most influential intellectuals of his generation.


Cinéma Militant: Political Filmmaking & May 1968 by Paul Douglas Grant

Reviewed by Joseph Palis

Paul Grant’s fine contribution to film studies sheds light on the subversive filmmaking practices of French collectives during and in the aftermath of May 1968 events. It exemplifies a “deep mapping” of the specific historical moment that greatly influenced and provided filmic vocabularies to filmmakers in succeeding generations.

Centre Pompidou: Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, and the Making of a Modern Monument by Francesco Dal Co

Reviewed by Leslie Sklair

This handsome book is a notable first contribution to the new Yale University series “Great Architects/Great Buildings.” In his illuminating preface, Dal Co begins with Virginia Woolf’s essay, “How One Should Read a Book,” published in the Yale Review in October 1926, where Woolf observes that a book is always “an attempt to make something as formed and controlled as a building.”

Tonic to the Nation: Making English Music in the Festival of Britain by Nathaniel G. Lew

Reviewed by Nicholas Clark

From the deprivation that occurred in the aftermath of the Second World War, which ranged from ill-health, rationing, food and housing shortage, to the crushing impact on artistic life, there emerged in Britain an intention to rebuild and improve all aspects of social and cultural existence. It was from this context, of commemorating resilience and celebrating ingenuity, that the 1951 Festival of Britain was planned.

Confessions of the Shtetl. Converts from Judaism in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906 by Ellie R. Schainker

Reviewed by Theodore R. Weeks

The field of Jewish studies has developed considerably over the past few decades. In particular, the field, which has never closed off from other disciplines and area studies, has progressively opened up to insights and topics that are of interest to broader scholarly and social groups, from anthropologists, to historians, to social scientists of all stripes.

Child Insanity in England, 1845-1907 by Steven J. Taylor

Reviewed by Pamela Dale

In the twenty-first century, the mental health of children is under constant scrutiny and is a topic that is regularly discussed by the print and broadcast media, drawing on reports from researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, service-providers, charities, and user-led organizations.

Eurasia 2.0: Russian Geopolitics in the Age of New Media by Mikhail Suslov and Mark Bassin

Reviewed by Lada V. Kochtcheeva

The rise of global information age impacts power relations in the world, boosts the spread of global norms and principles, and affects political structures and cultures of states. In addition to the spread of global information networks, globalization fosters economic interdependence, technological innovation, multilateral institutions, and the proliferation of non-state actors, which are deemed to weigh profoundly in global affairs.

Vertriebene and Pieds-Noirs in Postwar Germany and France: Comparative Perspectives

Reviewed by Amy Hubbell

As Europe continues to face the largest wave of refugees pouring into its borders since World War II, past influxes of migrants across the continent offer important lessons about national identity and integration. With Germany receiving the vast majority of refugees, and France ranked in the top three destinations, Vertriebene and Pieds-Noirs in Postwar Germany and France is particularly timely.

Europeans Globalizing: Mapping, Exploiting, Exchanging

Reviewed by Marten Boon

This book is as inspiring as it is bewildering, mainly because of the sheer scope of the book and its transnational ambitions. The authors, Portuguese historian of technology Maria Paula Diogo, and German historian Dirk van Laak, aim for a transnational history of technology of Europe’s global relations since 1850.

West Germany, Cold War Europe and the Algerian War by Mathilde Von Bülow

Reviewed by Brittany Lehman

Working with French, German, and English language sources, she demonstrates the complex and often lethal relationship between the West German, French, and Algerian states. Part of a recent branch of scholarship exploring West Germany beyond the East-West divide, von Bülow deftly demonstrates that the Cold War was a global conflict, which influenced independence movement and decolonial projects.

Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders by Ben Gook

Reviewed by Samantha Fox

The Berlin Wall may have fallen twenty-five years ago, but Germans still talk about “Die Mauer im Kopf”—the wall in the head—the cultural and psychological divisions between East and West that continue to endure. Ben Gook’s Divided Subjects, Invisible Borderlands: Re-Unified Germany After 1989, examines the unfinished business of reunification.

Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures by Reina Lewis

Reviewed by Rüstem Ertuğ Altınay

The author combines innovative archival research with multi-sited ethnography to analyze the growing Islamic fashion market and how Muslim individuals, particularly young women, engage with fashion as they negotiate the politics of identity and belonging.