Browsing Tag



Feminist Transformations and Domestic Violence Activism in Divided Berlin, 1968-2002 by Jane Freeland

Reviewed by Lauren Stokes

The women who organized the first domestic violence shelter in West Berlin consciously distanced their project from the women’s movement. When these founders sought state support for their shelter, they muted their larger critique of women’s inequality within patriarchal society to instead deliberately present images of vulnerable women and children the state could save.

The Long Century’s Long Shadow: Weimar Cinema and the Romantic Modern by Kenneth S. Calhoon

Reviewed by Ervin Malakaj

Kenneth S. Calhoon’s exciting new study links the cinema of Germany’s Weimar era (1918–1933) to previous aesthetic traditions. Commonly referred to as “the golden age of German cinema,” the Weimar era is affiliated with various cinematic innovations underpinning popular and arthouse cinema cultures that influenced international filmmaking in various ways (Kaes, Jay, and Dimendberg 1995, 617).

East German Film and the Holocaust by Elizabeth Ward

Reviewed by Mariana Ivanova

Despite the Allies’ efforts for denazification and reeducation, East and West Germany have both been haunted by the shadow of their Nazi past and it has often been assumed that denial and silence prevailed in the early post-war years.

Husserl and the Idea of Europe by Timo Miettinen

Reviewed by Boris Pantev

A somewhat unforeseen reawakening of the debate around the enfranchizing potential of political universalism has taken place in the past decade. Many theorists, such as Chantal Mouffe, saw this renewal as a valid antagonistic response to the surge of nationalist populism in Europe and the consolidation of liberal ideologies worldwide.

Gegenwartsbewältigung by Max Czollek

Reviewed by Johanna Schuster-Craig

Czollek’s books fall neatly in line with a genre of political nonfiction that has steered German political commentary at least since the 1990s.

Italian Ecocinema Beyond the Human by Elena Past

Reviewed by Emily Meneghin

The book analyzes five films and references even more academic disciplines, including history, industrial economics, oral memoir, acoustics, environmentalism, chemistry, geology, socio-economic politics, culinary studies, and more.

Studying Europe Through the Lens of European Catholicism

By Hélène B. Ducros

This roundtable juxtaposes reviews of three recent books―two monographs and one edited volume―that delve into the role of Catholicism in influencing the social history of Europeans and Europe’s place in the world, and challenge the very conceptualization of European Catholicism as a hegemonic monolithic force in Europeanization and globalizing patterns since the seventeenth century.

Fatih Akın’s Cinema and the New Sound of Europe by Berna Güneli

Reviewed by Kristin Dickinson

At the core of Güneli’s film analyses are the diverse “soundtracks” of Akın’s films. In her specific focus on polyphony, Güneli builds on previous scholarship, which has situated Akın’s work in the tensions between a “Fortress Europe” marked by borders and exclusivity and a “New Europe” marked by mobility and integration.

The Fire Now: Anti-Racist Scholarship in Times of Explicit Racial Violence edited by Azeetat Johnson, Remi Joseph-Salisbury, and Beth Kamunge

Reviewed by Maboula Soumahoro

The mention of “love and friendship” is a rare feature in a scholarly publication. Yet, these two noble and lofty feelings make their appearance in the foreword to The Fire Now. Love and friendship, to which “tenderness” is added later on, are used by the three editors of this collective project, as the core for their “continuous dialoguing.”

Cinéma-monde. Decentered Perspectives on Global Filmmaking in French edited by Michael Gott and Thibault Schilt

Reviewed by Lia Brozgal 

In their 2007 manifesto, “Pour une littérature-monde en français,” writers Michel Le Bris and Jean Rouaud announced to readers of Le Monde that a Copernican revolution had taken place but had yet to be acknowledged or named—the previous fall, writers hailing from beyond the hexagon had dominated France’s most prestigious literary prize competitions.

History after Hitler: A Transatlantic Enterprise

Reviewed by Claudio Minca

The very question of practicing “history after Hitler” is an enormous one, and I believe that reflecting on its post-war developments is an important task that transcends the boundaries of this specific academic field.

European Disintegration: A Search for Explanation by Hans Vollard

Reviewed by Sartirios Zartaloudis

The EU stands proudly as the longest and most advanced process of international/transnational collaboration among different independent countries in an effort to pool sovereignty to common policies for all members, the most important accomplishments being the EU’s single market, the Euro, and cross-border co-operation of the Schengen area.

Migrating Borders and Moving Times: Temporality and the Crossing of Borders in Europe edited by Hastings Donnan, Madeleine Hurd and Carolin Leutloff-Grandits

Reviewed by Brad Blitz

Migrating Borders and Moving Times is an extraordinarily rich collection including many personal testimonies of migrants who experienced dislocation over extended periods of time. While much migration research still focuses on the shift between sending and receiving contexts, this book smashes that mode of thinking and in turn contributes to our understanding of the lingering effects of cross-border mobility as it is experienced, internalized, and refashioned.

North Africa and the Making of Europe: Governance, Institutions and Culture by Muriam Haleh Davis and Thomas Serres

Reviewed by M. Chloe Mulderig

At a time when nationalist discourse is very much on the rise worldwide, the issue of “European identity” has become pressing and contentious. Threats to the stability of the European Union, along with increasing electoral success of right-wing politicians, are, at least in some part, the consequence of growing mistrust of immigrants and refugees.

Food, Religion and Communities in Early Modern Europe by Christopher Kissane

Reviewed by Jodi Campbell

Christopher Kissane has written an engaging and informative book that introduces readers to the significant role of food in the social and cultural history of early modern Europe. He paints a broad picture of a range of communities, from Catholic to Protestant, northern to southern, elite to poor. These patterns are illustrated and enriched by the narration of numerous individual experiences of ordinary people whose food practices came into conflict with religious or secular authorities, and therefore left a paper trail.

The Irish Scholarly Presence at St. Gall: Networks of Knowledge in the Early Middle Ages by Sven Meeder

Reviewed by Salvatore Cipriano

The notion that early medieval Ireland was an island of “saints and scholars,” a bastion of civilization-saving monks and their rich corpus of well-travelled books and manuscripts, is something of a popular truism. Scholars, too, have also readily identified Irish scholarship’s significant contributions to monastic, spiritual, and intellectual life in the eight and ninth centuries.

Oil and Sovereignty: Petroknowledge and Energy Policy in the United States and Western Europe in the 1970s by Rüdiger Graf

Reviewed by Stephen Gross

The surge of populist movements across Europe, which are assaulting the supranational powers of the European Union; the growth of massive financial institutions, which transcend borders with a web of monetary flows; the expansion of firms with global supply chains, which can relocate production around the world; the trade wars unleashed by President Donald Trump, which ostensibly aim to reassert American control over its own economy; can be understood as either causes of or reactions to the perceived decline of the nation state.

Networked Remembrance: Excavating Buried Memories in the Railways beneath London and Berlin by Samuel Merrill

Reviewed by Brian Ladd

The widespread fascination with the landscape of underground railways is not difficult to understand. This is a realm frequently visited by large numbers of people who realize that they only glimpse fragments of a much larger system. The fact that these structures lie under the earth, and often lack illumination, ensures that many of us will wonder what might be hidden there, concealed by a cloak of darkness.

Democratic Accountability, Political Order, and Change by Johan P. Olsen

Reviewed by Alexandra Bousiou

By focusing on the interrelations between democratic accountability, political order, and orderly change, Johan Olsen approaches democratic accountability as a mechanism by which citizens can influence and even control the elected representatives, non-elected officials, and other power holders.

Mediterranean-First?: La pianificazione strategica anglo-americana e le origini dell’occupazione alleata in Italia (1939-1943) by Marco Maria Aterrano

Reviewed by Julia Khrebtan-Hörhager

World War II was the most significant European and global conflict of the twentieth century – historically, politically, ideologically – a conflict, whose cultural legacy still greatly affects international relations on the world arena today and reminds us about le passé qui ne passe pas. War pages of history are comprised of complex and controversial narratives of perpetrators and victims: those who later became celebrated, glorified, forever commemorated; or those who become feared, loathed, pitied, or forever forgotten.

Turkish Guest Workers in Germany: Hidden Lives and Contested Borders 1960s to 1980s by Jennifer Miller

Reviewed by Brittany Lehman

Historians often rely on a preponderance of evidence to stake their claims. In so doing, however, these scholars frequently get lost in the numbers and the trends, forgetting the individual. Jennifer Miller’s much-needed book shows readers that groups of people—even when they number in the millions—are made up of individuals, each of whom has unique experiences.

My Life as a Spy: Investigations in a Secret Police File by Katherine Verdery

Reviewed by Sabrina Papazian

Verdery highlights the vulnerability of her emotions and experiences by sharing fieldnotes where she describes feelings of hopelessness and despair during particular stressful moments in her ethnographic endeavors. She also documents her emotions as she carefully read her secret file in 2010. This introspective dive into Verdery’s psyche makes her research experience and writing relatable.

Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union by Harold D. Clarke, Matthew Goodwin and Paul Whiteley

Reviewed by Owen Parker

Brexit was one of the first book-length contributions to this rapidly growing set of stories. Broadly, it is in the camp of those interested in the survey-data-driven “who-voted-what-and-why” question. But unlike many analyses in that camp, it considers the results of the referendum within the broader context of a rigorous and detailed analysis of public opinion during the decade preceding the referendum and of the rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), a growing political force, particularly during the latter part of that period.

Musical Theater in Europe, 1830–1945 by Michela Niccolai and Clair Rowden

Reviewed by Jennifer Walker

The lion’s share of scholarly literature that treats the subject of European musical theater during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries relegates itself to the study of “high” art, mainly in the form of opera. Musical Theater in Europe, 1830–1945, however, stands as a long-awaited corrective to this issue.

Styrian Witches in European Perspective: Ethnographic Fieldwork by Mirjam Mencej

Reviewed by Mary R. O’Neil

Until the last several decades, historians would have agreed that European witch beliefs had gradually disappeared following the decline of witch trials during the seventeenth century. However, contemporary researchers have effected an historic revision, documenting the persistence of these archaic beliefs into the twentieth century.

Dilemmas of Inclusion: Muslims in European Politics by Rafaela M. Dancygier  

Reviewed by Colin Brown

Recognition of the immigrant-origin electorate, and especially of the Muslim electorate, has grown in Europe in recent years. Academic studies have highlighted the increasing descriptive representation of migrant-background politicians at the local and national level—and have asked why this increase has been uneven.

The Political Economy of Higher Education Finance: The Politics of Tuition Fees and Subsidies in OECD Countries, 1945–2015 by Julian Garritzmann

Reviewed by Scott Smith

This overview of tuition and subsidy regimes is important because of the dearth in empirical data around what drives tuition fees across the OECD, as well as what accounts for the stickiness of subsidies even when governments are led by rightist political parties that traditionally espouse greater privatization and deregulation.

Cultural Feelings: Mood, Mediation, and Cultural Politics by Ben Highmore

Reviewed by Danielle Hanley

Highmore makes a number of provocative and ultimately productive choices for his project. First, he chooses to use the terms  “feeling” and “mood” over “affect.” He does so because these terms are vague and allow the author to move between habituated and the emotional, the quotidian and the intense aspects of lived experience.

Queenship in Medieval France, 1300-1500 by Murielle Gaude-Ferragu, translated from the French by Angela Krieger

Reviewed by Zita Eva Rohr

While the stories of medieval kings, and indeed their kingships, have received considerable scholarly attention for decades, if not for a hundred years or more, studies of medieval queens, and queenship in general, as legitimate fields of cross-disciplinary research really only received their “shot in the arm” following John Carmi Parson’s ground-breaking and durable collection of essays, Medieval Queenship, first published in 1993.

Engines of Empire: Steamships and the Victorian Imagination by Douglas R. Burgess JR.

Reviewed by Crosbie Smith

This is an ambitious, provocative, and at times idiosyncratic book. The dust-jacket fly-leaf declares its broad aims as the telling of “the story of the complex relationship between the Victorians and their wondrous steamships … it is a fascinating glimpse into a world where an empire felt powerful and anything seemed possible – if there was an engine behind it.”

Decolonization: A Short History by Jan C. Jansen and Jürgen Osterhammel

Reviewed by Michael Collins

The ambitious aim of Jansen and Osterhammel’s Decolonization is to provide a comparative evaluation of an immensely complex global historical process in a relatively concise volume. The authors revised and expanded their original 2013 German language version for the current text, whose purpose is to explain how the de-legitimation of European colonial rule over Africa and Asia during the course of the twentieth century involved a broad array of structural and normative factors.

Flip The Script: European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality by J. Griffith Rollefson

Reviewed by Séverin Guillard

This music genre sheds light on postcolonial issues that, despite having been crucial in European politics, have often been put aside in most debates. As immigrants from former colonized countries settle in the heart of the ex-colonial capitals, hip hop helps them to “flip the script” on the dominant discourse on Europe, forcing the nation to see them as an inherent part of its identity.

The Borders of “Europe” edited by Nicholas De Genova

Reviewed by Özden Ocak

The last few years have left their mark on the history of humankind with the deadliest shipwrecks known to the Mediterranean, unnumbered capsized “migrant boats” trying to reach the European shores, and dead bodies washed ashore after failed attempts to cross European maritime borders—such as Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian boy trying to reach the Greek Island of Kos from Turkey.

Thinking Freedom in Africa: Toward a Theory of Emancipatory Politics by Michael Neocosmos

Reviewed by Yousuf Al-Bulushi

When Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994, much of the Western world rejoiced at the prospect of a “reasonable” transition from apartheid to liberal democracy on the African continent. Mandela was seen by many as the best equipped to realize the goals of freedom, justice, and equality in the African country that had remained under white settler domination for longer than any other on the continent.

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 by Ben Eklof and Tatiana Saburova

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 edited by Manuel Borutta and Jan C. Jansen

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.

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.