A Europe of Regions: Reflections on the Historiography of Sub-National Places in Modern Times

Europe, so we read with increasing frequency, has always been and remains “very much a continent of regional identities.”[1] This notion has insinuated itself into a wide range of debates on the future of Europe. Whether the context is an analysis of the final crisis of the nation-state or a description of the structure of committees in the European Community, recognition of the significant role that regions and regionalism play in Europe today has quietly, undramatically taken hold. In 1992, Tom Nairn wrote in the New Statesman that regions had become a “key part” of the discussion about European union.[2] Two years later, Rolf Lindner argued, in a collection devoted to the “return of the regional” that “quite obviously we are now confronted with a new regionalism.”[3] And in 1997, John Newhouse stated in Foreign Affairs that “regionalism, whether within or across national borders, is Europe’s current and future dynamic.”[4]Moreover, far from being a product of the post-Communist, post-Maastricht Treaty era in European affairs, this attention to a resurgent or a renewed or a reinvented or a rediscovered regionality in fact stretches back through several decades of Euro-punditry. In 1984, Hans Mommsen wrote, with somewhat more drama than is usual to these discussions, that “the nation is dead, long live the region.” In 1981, Rainer Elkar asked whether regional restlessness might not be the “new specter haunting Europe.” And in 1980, responding to a decade or more of regional unrest, Jochen Blaschke published a “handbook of European regional movements,” designed to guide the confused through a thicket of Basques, Slovenes, Sorbs, Serbs, Scots, Lapps, Walloons, Flemish, Bretons, Croats, Magyars, Cypriots, South Tiroleans, Madeiran Islanders, Catalans, Occitans, and others.[5]

Yet, as even this brief retrospective should indicate, the contemporary discussion of regions in Europe, or to use the phrase first coined by Denis de Rougemont, of a “Europe of the regions,” includes little certainty and less consensus about such fundamental issues as what we mean by the term region and what, at the most basic level, we think is the nature of the European “dynamic” that regions have engendered. For some, regions are ethnic and cultural units, for others, economic ones or geographical ones, and for yet others, they are simply political subdivisions of the nation-state.[6] A magazine advertisement for the “European Regionalist Network” includes among its constituency “small nations,” as well as “regions”—both of which are described as “close to the people,” reflective of “cultural diversity,” and “sensitive to regional ecologies.”[7] Those who see a “Europe of the regions” as the great model for a future in which a tolerant cosmopolitanism and a warm, personal localism emerge gradually in stable complementarity confront a host of pessimists, realists, strategists, and separatists who anticipate increasing disparity, disruption, disintegration, and decline. Christopher Harvie, whose Rise of Regional Europe represents one of the few works of synthesis in this dispersed debate, has compared it to “a badly organised dinner party,” at which the guests—here, an array of jostling disciplines—”somehow contrive to speak not to but alongside one another.”[8] In Nairn’s words, “‘Europe of the regions’ remains an astonishingly fluid notion— . . . [N]o map can capture its sense.” “Is this,” he asks, “a new order, or a new disorder?”[9]

And what precisely, one might ask further, is new about it? Punditry rarely pauses for historical reflection, but here we find ourselves in the midst of a discussion, the complexity and the persistence of which both point to deeper historical causes than the latest shift in EU directives. Yet surprisingly little sustained historical analysis of “regional Europe” nourishes the contemporary debate: in Harvie’s words, “the history of the civic, regional and culture-nation entities in Europe and their ethos—which will obviously influence the history of Europe as it will come to be written if the movement is successful—remains obscure.” Harvie went on to write a brief but remarkably comprehensive “interpretation of the recent European past” that emphasized the “regional theme” and connected its historical manifestations to its contemporary ones.[10] The purpose of this essay is somewhat different. Rather than suggest the outlines of an alternative synthesis or add to Harvie’s, I shall draw attention to some of the ways that the paradigm of modernization, which in the period after 1945 did more to obscure our view of Europe’s regions than any other conceptual model, has loosened its hold over our understanding of modern European development.[11] The challenges to and modifications of modernization theory have accompanied the gradual emergence of regions as key players in the European community. Challenges and modifications both have developed slowly and undramatically, with little of the academic fanfare that signals the arrival of paradigm shifts or revisionism-in-battle-gear.[12] Nevertheless, their accumulation amounts to a transformation of our understanding of the significance of regions in European history. What remains to be seen is whether this transformation points to some new synthesis—Harvie’s “history of Europe as it will come to be written”—or simply to a familiar postmodern holding pattern of fragmented wholes, provisional stances, and open endings.

Modernization theory, whatever its shortcomings, has not been the single cause of the obscurity of regional history in modern times. Before we turn to it and to the postwar period in general, we need to take stock, however briefly, of the consequences to regions and regional history of the great, hulking presence of nations on the European scene. The issue is not so much that nations have been bigger and stronger than the kinds of regions that concern us here but that the whole process by which the writing of history established itself as a profession in the modern era has been closely interwoven with the making and legitimating of nation-states. This is a familiar point but perhaps worth rehearsing once more from the less-than-familiar perspective of regional historiography. “Historians,” wrote Eugen Weber, “were the clerisy of the nineteenth century because it fell to them to rewrite foundation myths; and history was the theology of the nineteenth century because it provided societies cast loose from the moorings of custom and habit with new anchorage in a rediscovered—or reinvented—past.”[13] The import of Weber’s remarks extends, of course, beyond his France. Historians across Europe wrote about the founding of their nations, the past of their nations, the coherence and unity of their nations. Thomas Babington Macaulay is an obvious case in point. His History of England from the Accession of James the Second (1848–1855) is nothing if not “an invitation to national jubilation,” and the effect of its enormous influence was to rid English historical scholarship of both cosmopolitan and localist impulses for the better part of a century.[14] The German case is just as clear. Stefan Berger, in a recent warning against the return of what Jakob Burckhardt long ago called “German triumphalism,” wrote that “German historicism’s claim to objectivity only thinly veiled its tendency to legitimate the existing political conditions and therefore to write the history of the victors . . . All wrote history not for history’s sake but to allow the Germans to develop national identity.”[15]

The devaluation of regions and their pasts in the nineteenth century thus emerged naturally alongside the triumph of the national historiographies. It drew on a rich vocabulary—common to all European bourgeois elites since the Enlightenment—stigmatizing the provincial, the particular, and the parochial. The study of regions, provinces, and local places did not disappear, but it became subordinate to the national history project and pursued mainly by little-regarded amateurs in local historical societies. To pursue local or regional history for its own sake was thus to reveal one’s lack of serious learning or, particularly in France and Germany, one’s dubious political allegiances. Robert Gildea has written about the difficulty of establishing any “political space for decentralization within the revolutionary and republican tradition” in France. The corollary to this was that regionalism and with it the study of regional history usually expressed reactionary or counter-revolutionary impulses, suspect longings for an invented prerevolutionary past of provincial freedoms and colorful regional diversities.[16] In Germany, the genre of Landesgeschichte (or provincial history) occupied a somewhat different but still uncomfortable position of resistance. The efforts of its practitioners to define the Land in terms of the smaller states partially digested in Bismarck’s Reich expressed a desire to preserve some vestige of “individual state consciousness” within the new national state.[17] And even though not oppositional in the stark terms of the French debate, the Landeshistoriker asserted in vain their federal, small-statist vision of German unity against the dominant Prussian school.

The first three decades of the twentieth century saw significant innovations in the practice of history, all of which confirmed, albeit in imaginative new ways, the subordinate place of regions in the writing of national histories. In France, Marc Bloch became acquainted with the work of Vidal de la Blanche in “human geography,” an ill-conceived but nevertheless important approach to the “geographic personality of France” through study of individual regions. Bloch himself tried using Vidal’s regional framework: his first major publication was a monograph on the Ile de France that appeared in Lucien Berr’s series “Les Régions de la France.” Berr and Vidal both were unsympathetic to local history as such, but at the same time they were open to the claims of regional diversity in both a social and a geographical sense—what Berr call “historical individualities” on a small scale. Bloch, though arguably more respectful of the work of local historians than any of his colleagues in the Berr project, ended up rejecting “the idea of region as an object of study or a real entity”: too much local history, he concluded, “was useless for general history, that is to say, when all is said and done, for the only history that matters.”[18] The publication in 1931 of his brilliant synthesis, Les caratères originaux de l’histoire rurale française, confirmed the place of local and regional studies as important but clearly subordinate aids to the treatment of general questions.[19] We must, Bloch wrote in the introduction, “be aware of the enormous efforts of painstaking inquiry which are quietly being carried on in our provinces.” “All of us, the historians by profession,” he continued, “generally dedicated to research on a larger scale, have a great need of these défricheurs [energetic gardeners].”[20] Thus the Annales school, as it developed after 1929 through the work of Bloch and many others, kept a firm hold on the national framework for historical studies, even as it introduced an extraordinary breadth of methodological and conceptual innovation in many other ways. Its emphasis on the material circumstances that shaped a people’s activities, limited their choices, and thus gave a people its distinctive character added new weight to the nation, lending it the aspect less of a superstructure than a natural outcome of exceedingly long-term historical trends.[21]

Methodological innovation combined with a reassertion of the national also characterized, though with very different political colorations, the development of ethnic history, or Volksgeschichte, in Germany during the interwar years. There, historians such as Hermann Aubin and Rudolf Kötzschke, legatees of the losing side in the late nineteenth-century historians’ quarrel known as the Methodenstreit, reinvigorated the regionalist tradition of Landesgeschichte through the introduction of new methodologies and comparative analysis.[22] Where the earlier Landeshistoriker had confronted the Prussian-led Germany with the histories of the other German states, the new practitioners of Volksgeschichte abandoned states and dynasties altogether in pursuit of the Volk, whose presence in border regions and ethnic enclaves, as well as in the post-Versailles nation-state of Germany, attested to the existence of a kind of Pan-Germania. And although regions and other local places could be privileged sites for the investigation of the Volk, the overarching framework was nationalist, and for some even racist.[23] In any case, the historical study of regions remained firmly fixed in the lesser status of, on the one hand, a respectable but not respected amateur pursuit and, on the other, a useful methodology by which, again in Bloch’s words, “a question of general interest [is] posed to the documents furnished by a particular region.”[24] For their part, professional historians continued in one way or another to give unquestioning priority to their representations of the nation.

And that brings us, finally, to the postwar period, in which one might expect some loosening of the hold of nations over the practice of history, some lightening of what James Retallack has poetically called the “twilight existence” of regional history.[25] To be sure, Gert Zang, one of the most imaginative innovators in postwar regional history, has written of a “growing precariousness [Verunsicherung]” of national historical consciousness after 1945, and it is a commonplace among German historians to characterize the decades after 1945 as a period of “denationalization [Entnationalisierung].”[26] Such terms may usefully identify a loss of faith in the nation-state. They should not, however, be taken to indicate a loss of interest in it, particularly within academic establishments. If anything, the end of Europe’s second Thirty Years’ War made issues of nationalism and nation-building seem more urgent subjects for scholarly investigation than ever.[27] Wave after wave of studies that explicitly took the nation-state, its origins, its developments, and its consequences as the object of critical historical scrutiny arrived on university library shelves. (The most recent wave, which excuses itself as a natural reaction to the seismic events of 1989 in Europe, may yet drown us all.) At least as significant, the professionalization of history only intensified, as did the tendency to dismiss local and regional history writing as the mark of the incorrigible amateur. The rapid expansion of graduate training, particularly in the United States, and, linked to it, the increasing use of professionally exclusive methodologies and theoretical frameworks, only widened the gap between those who wrote about “history that matters” and those who presumably did not.

The quintessential professionalized historical discourse of the first postwar decades was modernization theory.[28] This conceptual structure, which eventually incorporated a vast sprawl of historical topics, worked on a number of different levels to obscure and discount the role of regions in European development since the modern era began. The basic tendencies of modernization theory in regard to regions may perhaps be reduced to three, each of which described a kind of disappearance of the region—economically, politically, and culturally. First and fundamentally, regions were slated to disappear as economic entities, their distinctive economic strengths and weaknesses gradually attenuated when they became absorbed into nationally based markets, regulated by national economic institutions, and homogenized by the effects of labor and capital mobility. Second, classic modernization theory posited a normal process of political development in which the central institutions of a nation-state gathered more and more civic and governing functions to them, in which nationally based political parties dominated the legislative and electoral processes, and in which political divisions and disputes were more or less uniform across the geographical space of the nation. Third, modernization entailed the development of national cultures, expressed in a common language, disseminated through educational and artistic institutions, and represented in all manner of central monuments, rituals, and common experiences. Nationalism was the outcome of all these inputs, the means by which citizens identified themselves with the collective subject of the nation.

But beyond what modernization theorists actually said about the development of nations was their “almost axiomatic assumption,” as Sidney Pollard put it, “that countries within their political boundaries are the only units within which it is worthwhile to consider the process of industrialization”—and, I would add, almost every other socially construed process as well.[29] The heavy emphasis that social-science history (the German term Sozialgeschichte is apt here) of the postwar era placed on the national scale of analysis, seeing regions merely as data collection points, represented not so much a conscious effort to show how the territorial entity known as the nation was created but far more a privileging of what John Agnew and James Duncan have called the “sociological imagination” over the “geographical imagination.” The sociological imagination, they continue, “aspires to the explanation of human behavior and activities in terms of social process abstractly and, often, nationally construed.” The geographical, in contrast, focuses on places and “the actual links” between them.[30] If one accepts this distinction, then regions were doubly damned within modernization frameworks, doomed to extinction in the historical changes such frameworks explained and reduced to social-science servitude—or worse, invisibility—in the methodologies they employed.

But modernization theories and the institutional arrangements that nurtured them in their original form have long since changed, if not beyond recognition. Historians no longer make the “axiomatic assumption” that countries or nations can be treated as the unproblematic givens of historical analysis, that cultures and polities will converge in industrialized countries, or that a normal and unitary path of modern development can be distinguished amidst the fits and starts of European life. Scholarship on nation-building, nationalism, and national identity now tends to emphasize multiplicity and fragmentation, diversities and contingencies, uneven diffusions and incomplete projections. These ways of conceiving of the nation and its properties invite even more attention to regions and regional identities than has so far been forthcoming.[31] At the same time, professionalization in the postwar era has gone hand in hand with a radical expansion of our collective understanding of what history really matters. After all, it does not take a great stretch of the imagination to conceive of regions within that same capacious category that includes women, minorities, workers, and natural environments—the victims of modernity, the ignored, the marginalized, and the left-behind.

Finally, added to these developments internal to the historical profession has been the powerful resurgence since the 1970s of regional unrest and regional self-assertion in a number of European nations, symptomatic of a new crisis of nationalism in Europe. The mixing together of all these factors in an often indiscriminate fashion has resulted in much crossing of purposes and other manifestations of confusion. On the one hand, Hans-Jürgen Puhle assures us that the differences between regionalism and nationalism can be seen as “a matter of semantics”; on the other, Stefan Berger, warning against a re-nationalization of historiography, suggests that “only a mixture of regionalism and pan-Europeanism can prevent destructive nationalism from raising its ugly head again.”[32] On the one hand, the director of a regional center for civic education rejoices that the old centralizing nation-states have lost their “holiness [Heiligkeit]” and that “older and deeper ties among people are again making their claims heard.” On the other, the Oberbürgermeister of Gelsenkirchen speculates that “in the future all national boundaries will fall, and there will emerge great regions, which will meet each other in free competition for investments and markets.”[33] In the 1970s and 1980s, scholars could not say enough about Bretons and Basques and Scottish Highlanders. In the 1990s, they seem mesmerized instead by the hyphenated regionalists, the Baden-Württembergers, the Rhône-Alpines, the Emilia-Romagnards. Finally, in as fine a summation I have found of the general muddle of it all, James G. Kellas writes that “the study of regionalism (‘Europe of the Regions’) intersects with the study of nationalism in a rather ambiguous way. Regionalism seems to be like nationalism, but without the much-disliked features of ethnic prejudice and secessionism. Of course, these distinctions often collapse when actual examples are looked at.”[34] In the rest of this essay, I cannot hope to illuminate the true nature of regions, whether as ethnic enclaves, economic powerhouses, or civic utopias. I will, however, discuss some of the promising new directions taken in recent writing about the history of Europe’s regions in the era of nation-states. I limit myself to three new directions. The first gives priority to the concept of society, the second to that of identity, and the third to that of territory. These are shorthand devices to gather together sometimes exceedingly disparate scholarly research. Nevertheless, the distinctions are useful; they point, I believe, to significantly different ways of rethinking regional history.

The first and most fully realized approach in contemporary reconsideration of regional history has been influenced by both modernization theory (in its Weberian more than its American guise) and the historical sociology of such scholars as Immanuel Wallerstein, Michael Hechter, and Stein Rokkan.[35] It represents a sustained refutation of the stark opposition found in modernization theory between the traditional and the modern—between the backward-looking and doomed phenomena, among which one might include regions, and the forward-looking phenomena, chief among which was the nation-state.[36] Yet, at the same time, the work on regions I include within this approach retains a primary commitment to the study of society and social processes, and to that of the political and economic forces associated with them. We might call this the modernization of regions revisited or revised. Taken as a whole, this work demonstrates that the paradigm of modernization can still, in Hans-Ulrich Wehler’s words, “generate productive questions.”[37] To put it in another way, the new research on society and politics in Europe’s regions provides a specific instance of something that has long been evident in a general sense, that modernization theory is easy to criticize but hard to replace.

Nevertheless, it has taken some time and a series of modifications in what we understand to be the characteristics of modernization in order to reach a point where regional differentiation finally appeared as something other than an annoying exception to the prevailing model. Ironically, some of the earliest sustained attention to European regions came immediately in the wake of a wave of macro-historical theorizing about the structure of Europe that reached a kind of apogee of indifference to regions. The work of Barrington Moore, Perry Anderson, William McNeill, and above all, Immanuel Wallerstein criticized modernization theory yet chose to replace it with even more ambitious and all-consuming master narratives.[38] The consequence of Wallerstein’s controlling analogy of cosmology was, as William Sewell has argued so persuasively, to explain the local entirely in terms of the general: “global, systems-level causes,” not local ones, determine “the fates of local communities.”[39] The world-systems model, moreover, divided Europe into three large and analytically clunky regions: a dynamic north-west core and two stagnating and dependent peripheries to the south and east.

Perhaps not surprisingly, one response to Wallerstein’s work has been to run with it, creating as one sprints along ever more complicated versions of the center-periphery model, in the hopes that a more “multidimensional grid of European variations” will eventually cover every eventuality.[40] The quantity of this work is great, and its coverage impressive, from accounts of the “cultural peripherization of Flanders” to considerations of peripheries in the periphery that is Norway.[41] The closely related work of Michael Hechter, on the persistence of regionalism in the British Isles, has proven equally reproducible in a variety of marginalized places. Here, the center-periphery model took on a distinctly sinister cast: Hechter’s signature phrase, “internal colonialism,” denoted a process, essential to industrialization and nation-building, of producing ever more intense regional inequalities within the nation-state. Hechter originally took issue with Karl Deutsch, whose Nationalism and Social Communication is one of the most readily identifiable works in the original modernization paradigm. Deutsch suggested that socio-cultural distinctions between the province and the metropole would disappear or at least diminish over time.[42] Hechter argued instead that certain regions—his original concern was with the “Celtic fringe” of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland—were economically underdeveloped as a result of their integration within a national economic system, and that the retention in these regions of pre-modern forms of social identification represented not backwardness so much as a useful means of political mobilization against the oppressive center.[43] “Internal colonialism” subsequently became something of a battle cry for separatist and autonomist movements all across the European periphery; its scholarly usefulness seemed equally demonstrated in a host of monographs and article collections dedicated to the dubious category of “underprivileged regions.”[44]

The most important aspect of the energetic modeling of scholars like Rokkan and Hechter for historians has, so far as I can tell, less to do with the models themselves (which are more or less useful, depending on one’s inclinations) than with the perfunctory quality of the historical analysis that invariably accompanied them. Reading a Rokkan-Urwin analysis of European territorial politics makes all the clearer the need for nuanced and event-filled historical accounts of the same subject. Stimulating though the center-periphery model may be, it tends to understand the nature of regionality as passive and reactive—and so represents only a slight improvement on fully nation-centered interpretations. Still, Rokkan and Hechter made it possible to see the work of the Landeshistoriker, as well as all the local savants, antiquarians, and Heimat enthusiasts, in a different light; even more, they may be given credit for pressing scholars to reengage with the local and regional level of historical experience as itself constitutive of the process of modernization. In 1979, Allan Mitchell wrote that particularism in Germany was “the subject that will not go away,” and if we stretch the meaning of particularism beyond its reference to small-state dynasticism, then the remark has resonance across Europe.[45] What Bernd Weisbrod calls a “renewed engagement” with the historical category of the region has produced work that shakes off both the “musty odor of Heimat history” and the tendency, which has dogged center-periphery studies from Wallerstein on, to view local processes “as little more than the incidental outcomes of abstract wider forces.”[46]

This “renewed engagement” began, logically enough, in economic history. The link between economic change and nation-states had always been the weakest in the chain of interacting developments that constituted modernization. Long before globalization and the four motors became the buzzwords of the European economy, the nation-centered representation of economic life had given way to Sidney Pollard’s reconceptualization of industrialization along regional rather than national lines.[47] Pollard still told a big story, that of European industrialization in the sense of a single, gradually unfolding and expanding process, but he understood regions, not nations, to be the dynamic units within it, the sites of transformation and the geographical bases of its spread. Whether or not a particular region industrialized early or late depended on multiple factors—social, political, and technological—but, once regions industrialized, he suggested, the process of their transformation followed a certain limited set of patterns. In any case, Pollard stated at the outset that he was not going to focus on the consequences of industrialization but on the process itself. This approach, although it undoubtedly encouraged a great deal of more differentiated research on industrialization, did not entirely rule out the possibility that regions, even economically defined ones, might indeed be seen to diminish in importance as modernization moved forward. Pollard suggested that the nineteenth-century region differed from its eighteenth-century counterpart by a greater degree of differentiation among them, which was complemented by a greater density of linkages and interactions.[48] But those very linkages shifted the object of study, after initial industrialization, from the region to the system of linkages as a whole, whether the nation-state or some other entity like the “Mediterranean world” or indeed the world itself.[49]

Since Pollard, a number of studies have moved toward even more emphatically regional views of industrialization and political economy, using the regional perspective explicitly to challenge the way historians have represented “the history that matters.” In the case of the industrial revolution in England, Pat Hudson and her collaborators—many of whom came, significantly, from a Conference of Teachers of Regional and Local History—have reasserted the importance of regional histories of industrialization as a means to “capture that variety of experience and motivation which makes up the whole.” Hudson’s work represents the latest in a long tug of war between those who use national economic indicators and national social groups to track the movement of economic change and those who insist that such aggregates systematically “neglect the significant transformations going on just under the surface” of nationally construed experience.[50] The contemporary debate within economic history has an early twentieth-century counterpart in the first major outbreak of the standard-of-living controversy, which in the 1920s pitted J. L. and Barbara Hammond’s depiction of a catastrophic industrial revolution against J. H. Clapham’s more sedate “economic history” of “the early railway age.”[51] Clapham was certainly the better statistician and, ironically, an indefatigable compiler of county statistics. But in his formal rebuttal of January 1930, J. L. Hammond caught him out in the elementary statistical fallacy of concocting a national “average wage” out of an average of county averages. This ignored the number of workers in each respective county and thus conveniently concealed the fact, as Hammond calculated it, that 60 percent of England’s workers fell below it.[52] What was at stake then, and again now in Hudson’s objections to the macro-aggregators of the “New Economic History,” is whether the experience of economic modernity should be understood as a gradual, barely discernible, and practically uneventful long-term change in forms of production (in David Cannadine’s characterization of such a view—”less happened, less dramatically, than was once thought”) or as something life-changing and at certain times and places dramatic, with discernible consequences on social and political identity.[53] Hudson presents a thoroughgoing and differentiated case for the latter. But the only way to reveal this history, she maintains, is to investigate not just the causes but also the shifting, variegated, uneven, sometimes non-self-sustaining consequences of economic change within the actual communities that were the regions.[54]

The full potential of regional history’s capacity to reconfigure not only our sense of what matters but our overall understanding of what happened is realized with stunning effect in Gary Herrigel’s Industrial Constructions.[55] Herrigel’s work presents us with a history of German economic development that goes far beyond Sidney Pollard, Hubert Kiesewetter, or any other of the first-round revisers of nation-centered history in discarding not just the national unit of analysis but all the other emphases and assumptions that came with it. In the case of Germany, this means above all discarding an emphasis on particular forms of economic organization and governance, first suggested in the enormously influential writings of Alexander Gerschenkron.[56] The Gerschenkronian view was that industrialization in Germany developed toward a particular configuration of large, highly concentrated firms, which were technologically advanced, vertically integrated, allied with large banks, and supported by helping institutions associated with the national state. This view assumed, even where it did not demonstrate, a unitary social transformation that occurred in the places where industrialization took place. Thus industrialization in Germany, uneven in its geographical reach, was nevertheless seen to be uniform in its appearance, consequences, and trajectory. Waves of revision have by and large left this view intact; investigations into aspects of German economic development that did not look or behave like the Gerschenkronian core have remained in the margins.

Herrigel argues for nothing less than a paradigm shift. Instead of seeing small and medium-sized industries in regions unfamiliar to the historians of “organized capitalism” as archaic backwaters or isolated niches, Herrigel gathers up all the exceptional cases, carefully analyzes their own distinctive forms of organization, institutionalization, and governance, places them in juxtaposition to the old model of development, and emerges with a wholly transformed representation of German economic development. His “alternative picture” is essentially regional where the previous accounts were only incidentally so. He argues for the existence of “two distinct, parallel, and internationally competitive systems of industrial organization and practice.” Both, in his view, are regional systems, and both have developed distinctive forms of governance, heterogenous even at the national level.[57] Herrigel calls the first regional system the “decentralized industrial order.” Since the beginnings of industrialization in the German-speaking lands, it has been characterized by specialized small-scale producers, who developed supporting institutions to “stimulate innovation, socialize risk, and foster adjustment.” The second regional system, which he calls the “autarkic industrial order,” looks very much like the Gerschenkronian core industries, but it is recontextualized as a regional, rather than an implicitly national, system. Herrigel’s contribution, then, is no mere plea for understanding diversity or resisting generalization. It is an enormously successful effort to show that the reason regions have never disappeared from view and indeed continue forcefully to assert their relevance in Europe today is that they, not nations (and not cities or small towns), were from the outset the essential building blocks of diverse systems of industrial development within and beyond Europe.[58]

Such thoroughgoing restructuring is unlikely to occur in the realm of more conventional political history, in part because local studies of national politics, and indeed of local politics, have long been a stock-in-trade of political historians. Indeed, to adopt a distinction from the previous paragraph, incidentally regional histories of national politics have been so common as to obscure the need for essentially regional histories of the political life of the nation.[59] Still, political historians who retain an emphasis on social processes and social-science modeling have felt the need to refurbish nationalizing concepts like political modernization—to explore “the analytical possibilities of the concept” and discard its normative ones.[60] These revisions, occurring within highly divergent national historiographies, all reach for a fuller understanding of the regionality of modern nation-states. As with economic history, accomplishing this is harder than it might at first seem, because a term that seems at first so obvious in its meaning—regionality—has a distinctly paradoxical ring to it in the modern era. The most distinguished traditions of regional history writing (Landesgeschichte, the Annales school, the Victoria History of the Counties of England, and others) have overwhelmingly concerned themselves with the early modern period or even earlier, when regionality seems less a paradox than an incontrovertible feature of political organization. As Bernd Weisbrod has recently pointed out, it has been easier for the practitioners of urban history to contribute to contemporary history than those of regional history, because cities, not regions, have appeared to us as the quintessential sites of modernity—after all, urbanization, not regionalization (whatever that may mean), is what we associate with the process of modernization.[61] The reappearance of regional political movements in the 1970s and 1980s added to the difficulty of formulating an understanding of regionality in modern politics. The regionalist movements of the postwar era in effect created a gigantic red herring for historians—and one that many investigators of the center-periphery school have been following ever since.[62] Their example suggested that regionality in modern politics consisted exclusively of the impact of insurgent and unhappy regions, fundamentally at odds with the nation-state and hence in their own way witnesses to its premier status in the modern world. Much historical work on regionalism in European history has thus confined itself to the politics of autonomism and separatism—an important subject, to be sure, but not one that exhausts the possibilities of political regionality in the modern era. Regions should not be understood only as would-be nations; from that perspective, it takes only one small step to return to the notion that regionalism is therefore backward, archaic, and, above all, transitional.

Certainly, regional movements, whether autonomist, separatist, or otherwise, are an important element of the regionality of the modern nation-state, but they alone cannot provide us with a working definition of regionality, regionalization, regional identity, or regionalism. Instead, the most promising historical work is moving toward an understanding of regional politics that sees them everywhere, Saxony or Bavaria, Brittany or the Nord, as constitutive—not imitative—of the politics of the nation-state, in effect the infrastructure of the political process altogether. This is not to say that national politics had a local face to it, or could gaze at its reflection in the regional mirror. On the contrary: the very operations of national politics were dependent on regional political milieus, and each of these milieus constituted and reconstituted itself between and across the great junctures in political history. Each, in other words, was a site of change and modernization. Moreover, very real trends toward a nationalization of political issues, political parties, and political behavior were accompanied by contrary and complicating trends toward regional divergence and at times outright resistance.

This understanding of the regionality of modern nation-states insinuates itself more easily, perhaps, into the political history of a federal state such as modern Germany. Historians of Germany have in the past two decades undertaken a number of intensive collective projects on the modernization of regions, in order better to understand the modernization of Germany as a whole.[63] These projects have self-consciously broken with traditions of local and small-state history. They build instead on the more recent tradition of social-scientific history in the postwar Federal Republic and seek to complicate its analyses of national politics. Similar efforts to recapture and redefine local and regional history—in effect, to modernize it so that it can illuminate modernization—have brought about a whole new era in the history of political parties and constitutional change in Germany, as well as an unending spate of regionally based work on National Socialism.[64] It would be tedious to rehearse the accomplishments of so wide a range and so great a quantity of historical scholarship. Suffice it to say that all this careful examination of the regional infrastructure of politics has brought about neither a full-blown crisis nor a full-scale revision in our understanding of the German nation. But we should not, I think, expect either. Instead, this revisionism-by-regionality has yielded a slowly expanding set of new guiding concepts, which will both replace and correct such old tired ones as secondary integration, modernization-without-democratization, and even totalitarianism. For instance, Peter Steinbach has argued that a process of “re-regionalization” was intrinsic to political modernization in the German Kaiserreich. Re-regionalization refers to the growing force of a kind of political conservatism associated with federalist and particularist traditions, but it also refers more broadly to the ways that regional political cultures were both strengthened and transformed in unexpected ways right alongside the growth of national political movements, the expansion of the imperial state, and the mobilization of a mass electorate.[65]

National political culture, insofar as the concept survives such revision, thus becomes a multifaceted thing, more a complex amalgam of criss-crossing movements toward integration and differentiation than a set of finite and quantitatively manifest characteristics or a collection of hegemonic and centralizing strategies. It was forever in process and never achieved—a perspective that, as in the case of Pat Hudson’s industrialization, puts new value on representations of change, event, and the actions of individuals. Nationally extensive classes likewise begin to seem like unwarranted constructions to impose on a regionally differentiated reality of social cleavage. The political force of such social cleavages remains a primary emphasis, but revisionism-by-regionality suggests that the most accurate depictions of the intersection of social structure and political system, of social class and political opinion, will be achieved at the regional level. More than that, the new regional historians mainly reject the metaphorical notion, once so crucial to modern nation-builders, that many such small pictures can accumulate and mystically bond into a composite portrait of the nation.[66] New understandings of national political and social integration are without question emerging from this new research, but the textbook writers of the future who wish to take this research fully into account face daunting tasks of generalization.

A powerful emphasis on the essential regionality of modern politics has not been confined to the study of such obviously de-centered nations as the German one. Historians of highly centralized nations like France have also begun working toward a new interpretation of the place of regional diversity in national history. As in the case of Germany, new conceptualizations of regional history allow new interpretations. As long as one local history, that of Paris, was considered normative and all other local or regional histories interesting only insofar as they exhibited conformity to or deviance from Parisian developments, any study of regions was doomed to the status of case study and illustrative detail.[67] Moreover, as long as deviance was explicable only in terms of either backwardness or insurgency or both, then a conception of modernization as a unitary and unidirectional process was likely to remain unchallenged. To write a regionally weighted political history of France, it is not enough to acknowledge the diversity of political and cultural experience within French borders. One must also have a differentiated view of the means by which France became a modern nation-state, a process neither centered in Paris nor destructive of regional diversity, nor, indeed, particularly respectful of the regional categories of an earlier era. Thus Ted Margadant’s Urban Rivalries in the French Revolution looks at the National Assembly’s spatial reorganization of France as a dynamic political process at the local level where change was actually effected, a process of territorial redefinition with long-term consequences for the relations between regions and the state, for regional economies, even for regional demographic development.[68] His approach, while deeply rooted in the methods and emphases of nationally inflected social history, nevertheless constructs a new framework for understanding regionality.

A similarly deft de-centering of political history, this one focused on the Third rather than the First Republic, is Caroline Ford’s recent study of the Breton département of Finistère. Even more explicitly than Margadant, Ford challenges the conventional view of the French nation as an essentially urban, French-speaking, industrial, and secular entity.[69] Her notion of what was new and indeed modern about politics in the Third Republic was the emergence of novel and highly effective syntheses of republicanism, social reform, religion, and regional identity. By going beyond a conception of national integration that pits region against nation, archaic against modern, “endless diversity” against increasing uniformity, she provides a satisfyingly complex account of the ways that modern regions have been places where centralizing policies were “both resisted and appropriated” and where “new political ideologies fashioned from local understanding” were voiced.[70] This account bears many similarities to Peter Steinbach’s concept of “re-regionalization” in Imperial Germany. And while Ford’s work, like that of most other practitioners of a new regional history, tells the history of one particular region, it successfully escapes the compartmentalizations so typical of case studies, providing instead a further contribution to Margadant’s “social history of the parochial” and from there, to a genuine recasting of the national.[71]

Modernization theory does not loom so large, either as something to be challenged or to be revised, in a second set of approaches to European regional history. Regional identity has provided a conceptual focus for a number of historians and historically minded sociologists and anthropologists more directly concerned with the ontology of groupness than with the progress of modernity. Here, too, of course, there have been dragons to slay, chief among them the nineteenth-century discourse of group character. This discourse asserted the existence of various local, regional, and national traits as the embodied expression of centuries of accumulated historical experience and an essential groupness. It did not treat national groupness as more modern or progressive than regional and local groupness: all forms of group identity claimed primordial roots. Its twentieth-century social-scientific counterpart—or successor—is the assertion of what Rogers Brubaker has criticized as the “realism of the group,” in other words, groups understood as “real entities, as communities, as substantial, enduring collectivities.”[72]

Much recent scholarly work on national and other collective identities has taken as its starting point the rejection of group “realism” in favor of an understanding of groupness that trades heavily in the language of contingency, instability, possibility, and practice. The notion that the group is a substantial, stable, and real entity becomes, from this altered perspective, something close to a collective illusion, and in any case, itself the product of historical processes—social, cultural, political—which the scholar should try to elucidate. A sense of nationhood, in Benedict Anderson’s celebrated formulation, was the result of collective imaginings of a particular sort. His work emphasized, however, the imagining itself, not its result.[73] Brubaker’s recent analysis of “nationalism reframed” in contemporary Europe likewise understands the nation as a category of practice, a cognitive arena of struggle, a set of “idioms, practices, and possibilities”—not, in other words, an entity at all about which one could ask “what is it?”[74] Following Pierre Bourdieu, Brubaker sees the nation as a “principle of vision and division” of the world, and, like Bourdieu, he wishes to emphasize the quasi-performative processes by which a nation is reified and how the more or less arbitrary divisions among groups of people come to seem natural to the actors involved.[75] The constructivist view of collective identities finds an even more emphatic formulation in the postmodernist-cum-globalist positions that such scholars as Arjun Appadurai and Khachig Tölölyan have articulated. In Appadurai’s account of “post-national locations,” any kind of territorial identity must be regarded as “relational and contextual,” not “scalar or spatial.”[76] Whereas Bourdieu talks of social and political performances of identity, Appadurai talks of their narration, as well as the work of the imagination in producing and sustaining localized senses of distinction. For his part, Tölölyan emphasizes the ways that nations are “fabulated, brought into being, made and unmade” by people at home and in exile.[77]

Yet while constructivism has become something of a reigning epistemology in current historical research into national identity and nationhood, its capacity to shape discussions of regional or local identity has developed only in fits and starts. Interestingly, this neglect is not a consequence (as was the case with studies of modernization) of biases intrinsic to the original theory. All of the possible patrons of constructivism made sufficient room in their theoretical frameworks to accommodate a full range of human groups. Max Weber, for instance, asserted that “almost any kind of commonality and contrast of Habitus or custom can occasion the subjective belief that a deeply-rooted affinity or a disaffinity exists between groups that attract or repel each other.” He clearly meant to encompass all forms of “subjective commonality” (geglaubte Gemeinsamkeit), region and nation alike, in his observations.[78] Bourdieu first developed his thoughts on the “struggle over representations” in the context of a discussion of the rhetorical performances of regional autonomist movements in contemporary France. And Benedict Anderson wrote, in probably the single most influential book in this field of research, that “all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined.”[79] But the slowness to apply Weber’s or Bourdieu’s or Anderson’s insights to the phenomena of European regionalism continues to indicate the relative obscurity surrounding the role of regions in European development. Moreover, dissecting powerful nationalist mythologies allows for more flexing of scholarly muscle than does taking on the far weaker, less conspicuous mythologies that sustain regional identities in Europe. Murderous separatist movements aside, it is the rare observer of the European scene who regards contemporary manifestations of regional sentiment as anything but a healthy antidote to bellicose and exclusionary national ones.[80] Hence investigations into the practices and idioms of regional identification have often lacked the sense of urgency that informs many studies of nationalism.

Still, one can point to patterns in current studies of regional identity. Certainly, much work on it seeks simply to explore the full diversity of forms of group identity in modern Europe. For instance, the social anthropologist Sharon Macdonald believes that research on European identities at all territorial levels—national, regional, and local—must be pursued and might ultimately enable us “to map out a comprehensive picture of West European identities,” despite the current patchy distribution of ethnographic and historical accounts of groups.[81] For historians of modern Europe, on the other hand, the issues that seem most worth pursuing concern the interactions and intertwined developments of regional and national identities. What historical accounts we do have of the construction of regional identities suggest that to study it will provide us with a more nuanced understanding of the nation-ness of modern states as well. Adopting Anderson’s terms, to understand more fully how regions are imagined will complicate both our understanding of how nations are imagined and, just as important, under what circumstances they are unimagined, deconstructed, resisted, and collapsed. The practices and idioms of regional identity have, in other words, allowed for both resistance to and accommodation of nationalizing forces, often in the same places but to varying degrees.[82]

The “accommodation” school of regional identity emphasizes that a modern re-invention of regional identities has been an essential part of nation-building in Europe.[83] In the case of Germany, the dominant understanding of nation-building was articulated in the complex notion of a Sonderweg, or special path, which posited a model of both failed modernization and dysfunctional nationalization. The historians of the Sonderweg were for the most part concerned with the overwhelming influence of Prussia. Its problems became Germany’s problems; its social and political maladjustments became Germany’s; its version of national identity imposed itself, through various processes of mass manipulation and social indoctrination, on all subjects of the Reich, leaving here and there remnants of resistance in the form of an equally regrettable backward-looking particularism. But as was the case with the studies of regional political and social milieus discussed in the previous section, studies of regional identity in Germany have worked against the idea of a single Sonderweg. They have drawn attention to the way in which a sense of Germanness, of collective belonging in the new nation, found authentic forms of expression in regional institutions and in regionally inflected histories, monuments, and collective practices. In the case of the Rhenish Palatinate, for instance, voluntary associations devoted to regional historical and natural-historical activities self-consciously mediated between levels of collective belonging: a consciousness of regional historical events, in the view of people active in such associations, reinforced both regional and national patriotism.[84] Likewise, a recent study of history textbooks in many different regions of Germany revealed a surprising variety of ways of encouraging national loyalty in schoolchildren, most commonly by emphasizing regional topics and appealing to regional folklore and custom.[85] In both cases, the region served as a category of perception, of “vision and division” of the world, just as capable of making sense of changes in collective life as was the nation—in fact, eminently capable of making sense of the nation itself. This perspective enables us to account for the specific forms that national identity has taken, which vary from place to place, and to open it up as an arena of conflict and negotiation, not coercion and manipulation.[86] At least in the case of Germany, region, nation, and indeed, locality, were not antagonistic and mutually exclusive but reinforcing and interdependent.[87]

Nor does Germany appear to be peculiar in its history of intertwined territorial identities. Charlotte Tacke, who has written a sustained comparative account of French and German national identity, argues that “the individual’s identification with the nation rests . . . on a large variety of social ties, which simultaneously forge the links between the individual and the nation.” The most important ties mediating that relationship she finds to have been constituted in the region, which serves in her analysis both as a constructed “cultural and social space” and as an “order” of “civic communication.”[88] In both nations, France and Germany, a renewed, essentially updated regional identity emerged in the modern period through the cultural work of busy local bourgeoisies, consolidating their own social positions through precisely the kind of representational performances that Bourdieu has defined (in Tacke’s case, the construction of monuments of the ancient heroes Hermann and Vercingetorix). Following Bourdieu, Tacke wishes to bring together social analysis with cultural analysis, compensating for the tendency of social analysis to ignore the play of symbols and norms, and of cultural analysis to ignore issues of diffusion and social effect. As she and Heinz-Gerhard Haupt have asserted, the unanswered questions in the study of national identity and nationalism have to do with the extent to which they erased lines of division in society, reinforced them, or simply redrew them. She finds very different answers to these questions in France and Germany, not by investigating national identity at some abstracted national level but by insisting on the “social, cultural and political reality” of regional areas in the construction of collective groupness.

Tacke’s work understands the relation of regional and national identity as one of “negotiation,” but this negotiation proceeded “seamlessly” in her telling.[89] Tension exists in her story along the lines of class divisions, which did not coincide with territorial ones. But as was the case with studies of regional politics, historians have been more frequently drawn to regions in Europe where people either never imagined themselves to be part of a national community or understood their participation in it to be fraught with conflict and inequality. Regional identity in such places did not accommodate the nation but contested it; its idioms expressed resistance, and its practices revealed discontent. The constructivist case has been equally, if not more, compelling in such places, because the struggle to control representations of the group has often been a highly politicized and self-conscious one: it has involved both “labors of imagination and political argument.”[90] In Bourdieu’s rather tortuous formulation, “regionalist discourse is a performative discourse which aims to impose as legitimate a new definition of the frontiers and to get people to know and recognize the region that is thus delimited in opposition to the dominant definition.”[91] Much of the recent work on such regions as the Basque lands and Brittany has further linked the construction of distinctive regional identities to the consequences of uneven social and economic development. Marianne Heiberg’s study of the Basque “nation,” for instance, argues that the creation of a national identity for the Basques was a work of re-invention, the translation of a backward regional enclave into an aspirant nation in order to meet certain political challenges and respond to pressing economic changes.[92] Likewise, Maryon McDonald’s work on language and culture in Brittany depicts a Breton identity constructed in the course of Brittany’s problematic incorporation into modern France.[93] For Winnie Lem, the construction of regional identity in Languedoc was a straightforward act of class resistance on the part of peasants against the “combined forces of capitalist development.”[94] And among the Galicians studied by Heidi Kelley, regionalists revived and elaborated an already existing “myth of Galician matriarchy” because of “the aptness of feminine symbols” to express the marginalized and subaltern relationship of their region to the Spanish nation.[95]

Whether regional identity has entailed resistance or accommodation to the nation-state, the nation itself, at least from a constructivist perspective, appears to have been the controlling value system, the hegemonic concept.[96] Resistant regional identities have for the most part taken shape around a claim to nationhood, while accommodating ones have emphasized a distinctiveness that can reinforce national markers of difference—in effect, performing variations on a common national theme. For historians, the study of regional identity does not so much undermine the national histories as complicate them and, especially in the case of border regions, emphasize the ambiguities and instabilities of the nationalizing project. Looked at over time, regional identities have proven persistent, yes, but only by dint of constant adaptation to changes in national boundaries and systems of meaning. What the study of regional identities in history has yet to establish is what happens to them when nations fail or, indeed, what role they might play in the failure of nations. The cases of postwar western Germany and post-Communist Russia and eastern Germany suggest an unexplained capacity of regional forms of collective identification to come to the fore in times of crisis and collapse. A profitable direction for further research might be to investigate why.

The third and final way of re-thinking regional history does not characterize an existing body of historical research but rather holds the promise of synthesizing past and contemporary forms of regional research. To return to Christopher Harvie’s metaphor, it suggests a way to encourage the guests at the dinner party to talk to each other. Appadurai’s formulation of the problem of “locality” posed “relational and contextual” understandings of it against “scalar or spatial” ones; he talks further of exploring links between “the sense of social immediacy, the technologies of interactivity, and the relativity of contexts.”[97] But the very way in which he characterizes the “complex phenomenological quality” of locality suggests a need to incorporate considerations of space and scale, of the physicality of places, in our attempt to understand the role of regions in European history. A number of historians have already pointed out the problems inherent in studies of identity that leave out the painstakingly achieved findings of social and economic history—or worse, incorporate fairly crude social analyses that do little to mitigate an unexamined privileging of aesthetic and cultural categories.[98] But understandings of group identity or social change that do not work to illuminate the connections among people, geographical places, and historical change are equally inadequate. At its least satisfactory, engagement with as unstable a concept as identity opens up too much room for distinctions among region, nation, and locality to slip away, and we are left unable to speak with any conviction about the difference for human collective existence between large and small, weak and powerful, rural and urban. For Maryon McDonald, for instance, identity had to be regarded in the midst of its perpetual motion, with the act of slowing it down in order to describe it itself a source of distortion: “the very categories of ‘French’ and ‘Breton’ slip and slide,” she writes, and “neither France nor Brittany (nor any other such category) exists in any tangible or objective form other than in the ideas which people have of it.”[99] True though that may be, such categories do not slip and slide every which way, in all directions and across all boundaries. Perhaps with some modest exercise of our “geographical imagination,” we can find ways to write about the limitations on identity that are posed not only by society but also by place.[100]

Pursuit of such a project forces one to consider an issue that up until now I have sidestepped, and that is just what precisely one means by the term region. The literature is strewn with attempts at definitions: Keith Stringer, for instance, suggests that there are five basic strata of “collective social groupings,” the immediate, the local, the regional (“such as lordship, diocese, county, province”), the sovereign, and the supra-national.[101] Most of the historical work I have discussed understands regions in essentially political terms, areas of land that at one time or other have formed an administrative unit within a political system. But there is reason to think that the definitional gambit, as it is usually practiced, does little to further our understanding of the complex issues involved. Rogers Brubaker, rightly unimpressed with efforts to define the nation, persuasively argues that the question is the wrong one: a nation is not a thing, he says, but a set of practices, a cognitive structure. The same is certainly true of regions, but then again, perhaps we can profitably distinguish regions from nations by analyzing the distinctive practices of placeness—or to put it otherwise, the distinctive forms of geographical relations—that have kept some regions relevant to collective life long after their political significance has diminished. The dangers of such a line of investigation are legion: sentimentalism, essentialism, the Heideggerian trap of vitalizing the relation between place and being.[102] Yet avoiding an explicit confrontation with the role of geography, however we may ultimately define it, in modern experiences of regionality seems willfully obtuse, an unnecessary avoidance of complications that can only enrich our understanding of the region.

In any case, there exists a body of scholarly literature with which historians might usefully engage, and that is the field of historical geography. Such an interdisciplinary move is certainly not unprecedented; historians have gone through a number of phases of engagement and disenchantment with the discipline, a process most obvious in the development of the Annales school. But in recent years, the debate among geographers over a “reconstructed regional geography” has outlined a number of issues that ought to concern historians as well.[103] A great deal of what passes as “regional history” simply uses the regional framework, in the words of Alexander Murphy, as a “backdrop for a discussion of regional change, with little consideration given to why the region came to be a socially significant spatial unit in the first place, how the region is understood and viewed by its inhabitants, or how and why that understanding has changed over time.”[104] Murphy’s argument, that one should not take geographical frameworks for granted, suggests that we could regard the specificity of places as the outcome of social and cultural processes interacting with physical environments. Places are not automatic contexts for collective life but created, self-reproducing, and non-deterministic ones. They constitute a “configuration, which delimits actions”; they are “resources to be manipulated in the creation, recreation and restructuring of the contexts in which people are made”—or make themselves.[105]

Regions understood in such a way might not turn out to be Saxony or Burgundy or Catalonia, or they might. Beatrice Ploch and Heinz Schilling took the area of Hesse as their starting point for a study of how regions exist and function but remained open to other boundaries that might emerge from their research. They concluded that regions were not constituted politically but were rather “landscapes of action, of meaning, and of experience” with only shifting relations to the historical and administrative boundaries.[106] Wolfgang Lipp’s project at the University of Würzburg on “regional cultures and industrial society” understood regions as “spatially embedded, historically developed social life-worlds” and sought to move beyond political categories to what in other contexts has been called the history of everyday life. His collaborator Karl Rohe, who investigated the status of the Ruhr region as a meaningful spatial/regional category, believes that “one may speak of a regional culture, when the habitual orientations of thought, feeling, and action have through a historical process so distributed themselves that significant cultural distinctions come to exist between a region and its surroundings, no matter how difficult it may be to demonstrate them empirically.”[107] The effort to do so nevertheless seems eminently worthwhile, even if the results can never be certain.

What is at stake, then, in all the work this article has discussed (and much else that it has neglected) is the extent to which a renewed engagement with the regional level of experience—an engagement sensitive to the interactions of society, identity, and place—can productively destabilize our perceptions of European history. So many prescriptions for new directions in historical scholarship turn out to be unrealizable lists for unachievable syntheses that one is reluctant to add to them. Moreover, regions represent one of the most ambiguous of historical categories, even in this moment that finds ambiguity in all things. We have long had mechanisms for recognizing the existence of nations, but below the national level, unstable and abstract though it is, we take regions and localities as we find them and as we need them. At present, the study of regions has helped in some acknowledged and many more hidden ways to sustain a long and productive period of deconstructing many heretofore-existing historical narratives, the modernization narrative chief among them. It remains to be seen how a focus on the regional level of experience can help us once again to think big.

Celia Applegate is an associate professor of history at the University of Rochester. She is the author of A Nation of Provincials: The German Idea of Heimat (1990) and articles on regionalism and provincialism in the development of modern Germany. Applegate received her doctorate in 1978 from Stanford University, where she studied with James Sheehan and Paul Robinson. She is currently working on the role of music in German society.


I wish to thank James Retallack of the University of Toronto, whose generosity in sharing his knowledge of the new regional history of Central Europe and in commenting on a version of this essay has eased my way immeasurably.

1 John Sallnow and Sarah Arlett, “Regionalism in Europe,” Geographical Magazine 61 (September 1989): 9.

2 Tom Nairn, “Does Tomorrow Belong to the Bullets or the Bouquets?” New Statesman (June 19, 1992), Supplement: 30.

3 Rolf Lindner, ed., Die Wiederkehr des Regionalen: Über neue Formen kultureller Identität (Frankfurt, 1994), 7.

4 John Newhouse, “Europe’s Rising Regionalism,” Foreign Affairs 76 (January–February 1997): 68.

5 Hans Mommsen, “Die Nation is tot: Es lebe die Region,” Nation Deutschland? Guido Knopp, Siegfried Quandt, and Herbert Scheffler, eds. (Munich, 1984), 35; Rainer S. Elkar, “Die Ausbreitung regionalistischer Bewegungen in Europa,” Europas Unruhige Regionen, Elkar, ed. (Stuttgart, 1981), 10; Jochen Blaschke, Handbuch der westeuropäische Regionalbewegungen (Frankfurt, 1980), 5–7. See also Dirk Gerdes, ed., Aufstand der Provinz: Regionalismus in Westeuropa (Frankfurt, 1980), 25.

6 Mark Dubrulle, ed., Régionalisme, fédéralisme, écologisme: L’union de l’Europe sur de nouvelles bases économiques et culturelles; Un hommage à Denis de Rougemont (Brussels, 1997), 3. For a discussion of efforts to define what a region is and doubts about whether the question is ultimately a useful one to ask, see below.

7 New Statesman (June 19, 1992), Supplement: 17.

8 Christopher Harvie, The Rise of Regional Europe (New York, 1994), x.

9 Nairn, “Does Tomorrow,” 30.

10 Harvie, Rise of Regional Europe, 4, xi.

11 The scope of the following discussion will be limited to the historiographies of Germany, France, and Great Britain, with only occasional attention to those of Spain, Italy, and Eastern Europe. The analytical and conceptual issues discussed below will, I hope, have relevance across Europe, but the specific experiences of regionality have varied enormously from place to place.

12 The nature of the connection between the upsurge in regional movements in the 1970s and the reordering of regional historiography remains unspecified, although a number of historians seem to assume some loose connection, a kind of Zeitgeist effect. See, for instance, Jürgen Reulecke, “Von der Landesgeschichte zur Regionalgeschichte,” Geschichte im Westen 6 (1991): 202.

13 Eugen Weber, My France: Politics, Culture, Myth (Cambridge, Mass., 1991), 23.

14 J. W. Burrow, A Liberal Descent: Victorian Historians and the English Past (New York, 1981), 3.

15 Stefan Berger, “Historians and Nation-Building in Germany after Reunification,” Past and Present 148 (August 1995): 188. Probably the earliest recognition of the crucial role that historians played in German nation-building was Lord Acton’s “German Schools of History,” English Historical Review 1 (1886): 7–42. The classic account is Georg G. Iggers, The German Conception of History: The National Tradition of Historical Thought from Herder to the Present (Middletown, Conn., 1968).

16 Robert Gildea, The Past in French History (New Haven, Conn., 1994), 166–213. On regionalism as a political and cultural movement in French history, see also Thiébaut Flory, Le mouvement régionalist français (Paris, 1966); and Christian Gras and Georges Livet, Régions et régionalisme en France du XVIIIe siècle à nos jours (Paris, 1977).

17 For historical perspectives on Landesgeschichte, see Peter Steinbach, “Zur Diskussion über den Begriff der ‘Region’—Eine Grundsatzfrage der modernen Landesgeschichte,” Hessisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte 31 (1981): 185–210; and Reulecke, “Von der Landesgeschichte zur Regionalgeschichte,” 202–08.

18 See the careful consideration of Bloch’s engagement with the field of geography in the early twentieth century in Susan W. Friedman, Marc Bloch, Sociology and Geography: Encountering Changing Disciplines (New York, 1996), 65–69, 76–79, 176–77.

19 Carole Fink, Marc Bloch: A Life in History (New York, 1989), 124–25, 142.

20 One is reminded of Gibbon’s description of Sébastion Le Nain de Tillemont as his “sure-footed mule.” Marc Bloch, Les caractères originaux de l’histoire rurale française, 2 vols. (Paris, 1952, 1956), 2: xxxi. See also Jochen Hoock, “Regionalgeschichte als Methode: Das französische Beispiel,” Kultur und Staat in der Provinz: Perspektiven und Erträge der Regionalgeschichte, Stefan Brakensiek, Axel Flügel, Werner Freitag, and Robert von Friedeburg, eds. (Bielefeld, 1992), 29–40.

21 Jonathan Beecher makes a similar point in his review of Fernand Braudel, The Identity of France, in the Journal of Modern History 67 (June 1997): 426.

22 On the central figure in the “struggle over methodologies” or Methodenstreit, Karl Lamprecht, and his distinctive style of cultural history, see Roger Chickering, Karl Lamprecht: A German Academic Life (1856–1915) (Atlantic Highlands, N.J., 1993).

23 There has been a good deal of attention to Volksgeschichte in recent years, as a neglected origin of the social-scientific history writing of the postwar era. See especially James Van Horn Melton, “From Folk History to Structural History: Otto Brunner (1898–1982) and the Radical-Conservative Roots of German Social History,” Paths of Continuity: Central European Historiography from the 1930s to the 1950s, Hartmut Lehmann and Melton, eds. (New York, 1994), 263–92; Willi Oberkrome, Volksgeschichte: Methodische Innovation und völkische Ideologisierung in der deutschen Geschichtswissenschaft, 1918–1945 (Göttingen, 1993); Steinbach, “Zur Diskussion über den Begriff der ‘Region'”; G. Oestreich, “Die Fachhistorie und die Anfänge der sozialgeschichtlichen Forschung in Deutschland,” Strukturprobleme der frühen Neuzeit, G. Oestreich, ed. (Berlin, 1980), 57–95; and Axel Flügel, “Der Ort der Regionalgeschichte in der neuzeitlichen Geschichte,” in Brakensiek, Kultur und Staat in der Provinz, 1–28.

24 Quoted in Friedman, Marc Bloch, Sociology and Geography, 79.

25 James Retallack, “Election Campaigns and Franchise Struggles in Regional Perspective: A Conference Report,” German History 13 (1995): 76.

26 Gert Zang, Die unaufhaltsame Annäherung an das Einzelne: Reflexionen über den theoretischen und praktischen Nutzen der Regional- und Alltagsgeschichte (Konstanz, 1985), 20; and Konrad Jarausch, “Normalisierung oder Re-Nationalisierung? Zur Umdeutung der deutschen Vergangenheit,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 21 (October–December 1995): 571.

27 In post-1945 Germany, not to write national history was to court the suspicion that one was avoiding writing national history, and, by inexorable moral extension, avoiding a necessary confrontation with the National Socialist past. The relentlessly national emphases of Sozialgeschichte, as it emerged in the 1960s among the non-Marxist Left (Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Jürgen Kocka, and others), reflected in part a reaction to what its practitioners considered to be the unacceptable politics of postwar regional history, with its often explicitly redemptive tone and its effort to find another past, one not sullied by the Nazis. See the important essay by Bernd Weisbrod, “Region und Zeitgeschichte: Das Beispiel Niedersachsen,” Niedersächsiches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte 68 (1996): 91–105; and Celia Applegate, A Nation of Provincials: The German Idea of Heimat (Berkeley, Calif., 1990), 228–46.

28 This is a problematically vague term for a wide range of historically oriented social science that had its heyday in the 1950s and the 1960s in the Anglo-American academic world. Others, especially Hans-Ulrich Wehler, find the Anglo-American tradition simplistic and attribute the theory and methodology of the term to Max Weber. Wehler’s multivolume Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte represents a thoroughgoing historical realization of Weber’s ideas about the structuring of historical change (Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, 3 vols. [Munich, 1987–96]). In any case, the present essay does not account for the origins and continuing influence of modernization theory in any of its guises, though such an essay would be useful. A good brief treatment is Geoff Eley, “German History and the Contradictions of Modernity: The Bourgeoisie, the State, and the Mastery of Reform,” in Society, Culture and the State in Germany, 1870–1930, Eley, ed. (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1996), 67–103.

29 Sidney Pollard, Peaceful Conquest: The Industrialization of Europe 1760–1970 (New York, 1981), vii. Pollard referred here in particular to the work of Alexander Gerschenkron, W. W. Rostow, and Simon Kuznets.

30 John Agnew and James Duncan, The Power of Place: Bringing Together Geographical and Sociological Imaginations (Winchester, Mass., 1989), 1–3.

31 Justo G. Beramendi, Ramon Maiz, and Xosé M. Nunez, eds., “Introduction,” Nationalism in Europe: Past and Present, 2 vols. (Santiago de Compostela, 1994), 1: 1.

32 Hans-Jürgen Puhle, “Nation States, Nations, and Nationalism in Western and Southern Europe,” in Beramendi, Nationalism in Europe: Past and Present, 2: 28; Berger, “Historians and Nation-Building in Germany,” 219.

33 Wilhelm Ballon, preface to Regionalismus: Phänomen; Planungsmittel; Herausforderung für Europa—Eine Einführung, Fried Esterbauer, ed. (Munich, 1978), 5–6; and Kurt Bartlewski, preface to Stadt und Region—Region und Stadt: Stadtgeschichte—Urbanisierungsgeschichte—Regionalgeschich te, Heinz-Jürgen Priamus and Ralf Himmelmann, eds. (Essen, 1993), 9.

34 James Kellas, “The Study of Nationalism in Europe: The State of the Art,” in Beramendi, Nationalism in Europe: Past and Present, 1: 55.

35 For a defense of Weberian, as compared to American, modernization research, see Hans-Ulrich Wehler, “Modernisierungstheorie und Geschichte,” Gegenwart als Geschichte, rev. edn. (Göttingen, 1995)—an updated version of his Modernisierungstheorie und Geschichte (Göttingen, 1975).

36 For a stimulating critique of “teleological temporality,” see William H. Sewell, Jr., “Three Temporalities: Toward an Eventful Sociology,” The Historic Turn in the Human Sciences, Terrence J. McDonald, ed. (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1996), 247–54.

37 Hans-Ulrich Wehler, “A Guide to Future Research on the Kaiserreich?” Central European History 29 (1996): 552.

38 Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (Boston, 1966); Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State (London, 1974); William H. McNeill, The Shape of European History (New York, 1974); and Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System (New York, 1974).

39 Sewell, “Three Temporalities,” 249–50.

40 Stein Rokkan and Derek W. Urwin, Economy, Territory, Identity: Politics of West European Peripheries (Beverly Hills, Calif., 1983), 19.

41 On Belgium, see André Frognier, Michel Quevit, and Marie Stenbock, “Regional Imbalances and Centre—Periphery Relationships in Belgium,” in The Politics of Territorial Identity, Stein Rokkan and Derek W. Urwin, eds. (Beverly Hills, Calif., 1982), 251–78; on Norway, see Frank H. Aaerebrot, “Norway: Centre and Periphery in a Peripheral State,” in Politics of Territorial Identity, 75–112. For a more general appreciation of Stein Rokkan’s work on centers and peripheries, see Per Torsvik, ed., Mobilization, Center-Periphery Structures and Nation-Building (Oslo, 1981). For a theoretical exposition of the fully adumbrated model, see Rokkan and Urwin, Economy, Territory, Identity.

42 Besides Nationalism and Social Communication: An Inquiry into the Foundations of Nationality (New York, 1953), see Karl Deutsch’s less technical version in Nationalism and Its Alternatives (New York, 1969).

43 Michael Hechter, Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development (1975; New Brunswick, N.J., 1999); and “The Persistence of Regionalism in the British Isles, 1885–1966,” American Journal of Sociology 79 (September 1973): 319–42.

44 See, for example, Blaschke, Handbuch der westeuropäische Regionalbewegungen; Gerdes, Aufstand der Provinz; and Rainer S. Elkar, ed., Europas unruhige Regionen: Geschichtsbewu\Stsein und europäischer Regionalismus (Stuttgart, 1981); Dudley Seers and Kjell Öström, The Crises of the European Regions (New York, 1983); Wilhelm Ribhegge, Europa—Nation—Region (Darmstadt, 1991); and Günter Lottes, ed., Region, Nation, Europa (Heidelberg, 1992).

45 Allan Mitchell, “‘A Real Foreign Country’: Bavarian Particularism in Imperial Germany 1870–1918,” Francia 7 (1979): 587.

46 Weisbrod, “Region und Zeitgeschichte,” 90; Dieter Langewiesche, “Liberalismus und Region,” Liberalismus und Region: Zur Geschichte des deutschen Liberalismus im 19. Jahrhundert, Lothar Gall and Langewiesche, eds. (Munich, 1995), 1; Cris Shore and Annabel Black, “The European Communities and the Construction of Europe,” Anthropology Today 8 (June 1992): 10. For a slightly fuller explanation of the contemporary anthropological critique of center-periphery studies, see Robert Ulin, “The Current Tide in American Europeanist Anthropology: From Margins to Centre?” Anthropology Today 7 (December 1991); and M. Kearney, “The Local and the Global: The Anthropology of Globalization and Transnationalism,” Annual Review of Anthropology 24 (1995): 547–65.

47 This view may be found most fully developed in Pollard, Peaceful Conquest; see also Sidney Pollard, ed., Region und Industrialisierung: Studien zur Rolle der Regionen in der Wirtschaftsgeschichte der letzten zwei Jahrhunderte (Göttingen, 1980); Rainer Fremdling and Richard A. Tilly, eds., Industrialisierung und Raum: Studien zur regionalen Differenzierung in Deutschland des 19. Jahrhundert (Stuttgart, 1979); and Hubert Kiesewetter, Industrialisierung und Landwirtschaft (Cologne, 1988). A path-breaking but undervalued work in this context is Frank Tipton, Regional Variations in the Economic Development of Germany during the Nineteenth Century (Middletown, Conn., 1976).

48 Pollard, Peaceful Conquest, vi, 115.

49 For a recent work that views geographical areas in terms of their links not with a nation but with a larger-than-national region, see Louis Bergeron, ed., La croissance régionale dans l’Europe méditerranéenne 18e–20e siècles (Paris, 1992).

50 Pat Hudson, ed., Regions and Industries: A Perspective on the Industrial Revolution in Britain (New York, 1989), 1. A loosely similar use of the regional perspective to form alternative narratives of industrialization is Tessie P. Liu, The Weaver’s Knot: The Contradictions of Class Struggle and Family Solidarity in Western France, 1750–1914 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1994). Her emphasis is less, however, on the region as such than on ways of organizing production and responding to economic crisis that have been ignored in single-process narratives of industrialization.

51 J. L. and Barbara Hammond, The Town Labourer 1760–1832: The New Civilisation (London, 1919); J. H. Clapham, An Economic History of Modern Britain, Vol. 1: The Early Railway Age 1820–1850 (Cambridge, 1926).

52 J. L. Hammond, “Industrial Revolution and Discontent,” English Historical Review 2 (1929–30): 215–28. A full account of the Clapham-Hammond confrontation may be found in Stewart A. Weaver, The Hammonds: A Marriage in History (Stanford, Calif., 1997), 182–209.

53 David Cannadine, “British History: Past, Present—and Future?” Past and Present 116 (1987): 183; cited in Hudson, Regions and Industries, 1.

54 A variation on the deceptive nature of national aggregates comes in Douglas Forsythe’s review (Journal of Modern History 68 [June 1996]: 491) of Vera Zamagni, Economic History of Italy, 1860–1990 (Oxford, 1993). He urges an even more “systematic discussion of regional variations in economic development” as a way to reveal that “Italy’s place on the periphery of the economically developed world early in the century” was an “artifact of national aggregates.” He also urges more attention to “light industry,” an issue with regional implications as well.

55 Gary Herrigel, Industrial Constructions: The Sources of German Industrial Power (New York, 1996).

56 Herrigel refers especially to Gerschenkron’s discussion of Germany in Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, Mass., 1962), and Continuity in History and Other Essays (Cambridge, Mass., 1968); see Herrigel, Industrial Constructions, 3–14.

57 Herrigel, Industrial Constructions, 1.

58 Herrigel, Industrial Constructions, 1–3. It is also worth noting that he understands regions in a loose and functional sense, not as received political territories but as smaller-than-national arenas of economic activity and governance. This understanding allows him to avoid any reification of the “regional economy,” which might prove just as stultifying as notions of the national economy. It also has a great deal in common with the fluid definitions of region now developing in historical geography, which I discuss below.

59 Herrigel’s work has, of course, crucially important things to say about political history as well, and represents as much of a provocation to reconsideration there as in economic history—indeed, his subject, political economy, explicitly rejects even the (my) convenient pretense of an analytically sustainable separation between politics and economics.

60 Peter Steinbach, “Einleitung,” in Modernisierung und Region im wilhelminischen Deutschland, Simone Lässig, Karl Heinrich Pohl, and James Retallack, eds. (Bielefeld, 1995), 12. Steinbach provides a fuller account of his understanding of regional political history as a “corrective,” not an end in itself, in “Zur Diskussion über den Begriff ‘Region,'” 194–208. His pursuit of this “corrective” has nevertheless in practice begun to constitute an end in itself, that is to say, a distinctively different approach to the political culture of modern Germany.

61 Weisbrod, “Region und Zeitgeschichte,” 99–100. This outstanding article, notable both for its provocative analyses and its remarkable succinctness, is unfortunately buried in a regional history journal, the Niedersächsisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte, that all but the largest research libraries in the United States would consider far too obscure to consider purchasing—just one more symptom of the overall problem. There are important ways that historians of a new regional history could learn from the more established methodologies and frameworks of urban history. Such historians as Jürgen Reulecke are outstanding practitioners of both, and the Stadt und Bürgertum project directed by Lothar Gall has liberated the actual urban histories of the nineteenth century from the preconceptions of modernization frameworks. An outstanding American example of such an approach is Jennifer Jenkins, “Provincial Modernity: Culture, Politics and Local Identity in Hamburg, 1885–1914” (PhD dissertation, University of Michigan, 1997). But the modernization paradigm still has a strong hold on urban history. For instance, a recent article by Dieter K. Buse, “Urban and National Identity: Bremen, 1860–1920,” Journal of Social History (Spring 1993): 521–38, charts the decline and disappearance of local distinctiveness—political and cultural—within a framework that confirms modernization assumptions, ironically in order to refute the notion of a special German path.

62 The sole appearance to date of focused attention to regionalism in the prestigious journal Geschichte und Gesellschaft was an issue in 1994, devoted to “Nationalismen und Regionalismen in Westeuropa,” in which the regions covered were the usual suspects—Catalonia, Northern Ireland, the Basque lands, and various peripheral regions in France.

63 The grandfather of such projects was Martin Broszat’s enormous “Bavaria in the Nazi Period,” which eventually resulted in six volumes: Martin Broszat, et al., Bayern in der NS-Zeit, 6 vols. (Munich, 1977–83). A path-breaking work on the nineteenth century was Gert Zang, ed., Provinzialisierung einer Region: Regionale Unterentwicklung und liberale Politik in der Stadt und im Kreis Konstanz im 19. Jahrhundert; Untersuchungen zur Entstehung der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft in der Provinz (Frankfurt, 1978). For a guide to the Westphalian research project, see Matthias Frese, et al., “Gesellschaft in Westfalen: Kontinuität und Wandel 1930–1960; Ein Forschungsprojekt des westfälischen Instituts für Regionalgeschichte,” Westfälische Forschungen 41 (1991): 444–67. On Saxony, see Simone Lässig and Karl Heinrich Pohl, eds., Sachsen im Kaiserreich: Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft im Umbruch (Dresden, 1997); and James Retallack, “Society and Politics in Saxony in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Reflections on Recent Research,” Archiv für Sozialgeschichte 38 (1998): 396–457.

64 A recent sampling of this literature, to which American scholars have long made important contributions, is Horst Müller, Andreas Wirsching, and Walter Ziegler, eds., Nationalsozialismus in der Region: Beiträge zur regionalen und lokalen Forschung und zum internationalen Vergleich (Munich, 1996).

65 Peter Steinbach, “Einleitung,” in Lässig, Modernisierung und Region im wilhelminischen Deutschland, 11. This excellent volume of essays contains a vast set of references to this body of scholarship. For an English-language offering, see Dirk Berg-Schlosser and Ralf Rytlewski, eds., Political Culture in Germany (New York, 1993), especially the article by Hans-Georg Wehling, “The Significance of Regional Variations: The Case of Baden-Württemberg,” 91–100.

66 See especially James Retallack, “Politische Kultur, Wahlkultur, Regionalgeschichte,” in Lässig, Modernisierung und Region, 32, 17.

67 An excellent, brief analysis of the “conceptually underdeveloped” field of French provincial history may be found in W. D. Edmonds, “‘Qu’est-ce que la Province?’ Some Books in English on Provincial France during the Revolution,” European History Quarterly 25 (1995): 117–27.

68 Ted W. Margadant, Urban Rivalries in the French Revolution (Princeton, N.J., 1992).

69 Caroline Ford, Creating the Nation in Provincial France: Religion and Political Identity in Brittany (Princeton, N.J., 1993), 4–9.

70 Ford, Creating the Nation, 9.

71 Before concluding this section devoted to the revision of modernization theory, I should also mention William Brustein, The Social Origins of Political Regionalism: France, 1849–1981 (Berkeley, Calif., 1988), which seeks to discard normative models of social change and construct instead a picture of society fully differentiated by contrasting regional modes of production. Brustein’s work bears some similarities to Herrigel, in its emphasis on the essential regionality of social change.

72 Rogers Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe (New York, 1996), 13.

73 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, rev. edn. (London, 1991).

74 Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed, 15.

75 See especially Pierre Bourdieu, “Identity and Representation: Critical Reflections on the Idea of Region,” Language and Symbolic Power, John B. Thompson, ed., Gino Raymond and Matthew Adamson, trans. (Cambridge, Mass., 1991), 220–28; and Rogers Brubaker, “Rethinking Classical Theory: The Sociological Vision of Pierre Bourdieu,” Theory and Society 14 (1985): 745–75.

76 Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis, 1996), 178–79.

77 Khachig Tölölyan, “The Nation-State and Its Others: In Lieu of a Preface,” Becoming National: A Reader, Geoff Eley and Ronald Grigor Suny, eds. (New York, 1996), 427.

78 Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, 2 vols., 5th rev. edn. (Tübingen, 1976), 1: 237. The translation in the standard English edition somewhat obscures the issue—see Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, 2 vols. (Berkeley, Calif., 1978), 1: 388.

79 Anderson, Imagined Communities, 6.

80 As I note below, the most murderous of regionalist movements, like the Basque one, claim to be nationalist movements, and thus fall into the twilight zone in which regions and nations blend indistinguishably into each other.

81 Sharon Macdonald, “Identity Complexes in Western Europe: Social Anthropological Perspectives,” in Macdonald, ed., Inside European Identities: Ethnography in Western Europe (Providence, R.I., 1993), 2.

82 A neatly constructed demonstration of this dual role can be found in John R. Eidson, “German Local History as Metaphor and Sanction,” Anthropological Quarterly 66 (July 1993): 134–48.

83 See the summarizing remarks by Stuart Woolf, in Beramendi, Nationalism in Europe: Past and Present, 2: 616, 618, 620.

84 Applegate, Nation of Provincials.

85 Katharine D. Kennedy, “Regionalism and Nationalism in South German History Lessons, 1871–1914,” German Studies Review 12 (1989): 11–33.

86 The literature on monuments, national and otherwise, has also been a context in which such a perspective is developed. See especially Reinhard Alings, Monument und Nation: Das Bild vom Nationalstaat im Medium Denkmal—Zum Verhältnis von Nation und Staat im deutschen Kaiserreich 1871–1918 (Berlin, 1996).

87 Arno Mohr’s study of the “function of regional history” in postwar German Länder argues that a highly constructed regional historical consciousness for these new political entities served as a kind of prerequisite for renewed political participation in the Federal Republic of Germany: “The growing sense of the territory’s historicity became a measure of the maturing of political identity.” See Mohr, “Politische Identität um jeden Preis? Zur Funktion der Landesgeschichtsschreibung in den Bundesländern,” Neue Politische Literatur 35 (1990): 265.

88 Charlotte Tacke, “The Nation in the Region: National Movements in Germany and France in the 19th Century,” in Beramendi, Nationalism in Europe: Past and Present, 2: 691–92, 694; see also Tacke, Denkmal im sozialen Raum: Nationale Symbole in Deutschland und Frankreich im 19. Jahrhundert (Göttingen, 1995).

89 Heinz-Gerhard Haupt and Charlotte Tacke, “Die Kultur des Nationalen: Sozial- und kulturgeschichtliche Ansätze bei der Erforschung des europäischen Nationalismus im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert,” Kulturgeschichte Heute, Wolfgang Hardtwig and Hans-Ulrich Wehler, eds. (Göttingen, 1996), 255–83; Tacke, “Nation in the Region,” 694.

90 Eley and Suny, Becoming National, 323.

91 Bourdieu, “Identity and Representation,” 223.

92 Marianne Heiberg, The Making of the Basque Nation (New York, 1989); for a briefer exposition of her argument, see “Basques, Anti-Basques, and the Moral Community,” in Eley and Suny, Becoming National, 325–36.

93 Maryon McDonald, “We Are Not French!”: Language, Culture, and Identity in Brittany (New York, 1989).

94 Winnie Lem, “Identity and History: Class and Regional Consciousness in Rural Languedoc,” Journal of Historical Sociology 8 (June 1995): 198–220.

95 Heidi Kelley, “The Myth of Matriarchy: Symbols of Womanhood in Galician Regional Identity,” Anthropological Quarterly 67 (April 1994): 71–80. The gendering of regionalist discourse is a theme that has not, to my knowledge, been much developed independent of the national framework in the historical literature on Europe.

96 Rüdiger Gans and Detlef Briesen explicitly make this argument in “Das Siegerland zwischen ländlicher Beschränkung und nationaler Entgrenzung: Enge und Weite als Elemente regionaler Identität,” in Lindner, Die Wiederkehr des Regionalen, 66–70.

97 Appadurai, Modernity at Large, 178.

98 See especially Tacke and Haupt, “Die Kultur des Nationalen.”

99 McDonald, “We Are Not French,” 22. Interestingly, Ellen Badone, another anthropologist working on Brittany, has argued that people’s perceptions of cultural identity in Brittany make much finer and more fixed distinctions among localities within the region of Brittany than many anthropologists have allowed. See Badone, “Ethnicity, Folklore, and Local Identity in Rural Brittany,” Journal of American Folklore 100 (April–June 1987): 161–90.

100 Agnew and Duncan, Power of Place, 1.

101 Keith Stringer, “Social and Political Communities in European History: Some Reflections on Recent Studies,” Nations, Nationalism and Patriotism in the European Past, Claus Bj\orn, Alexander Grant, and Keith J. Stringer, eds. (Copenhagen, 1994), 9.

102 Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed, 15. Of the many discussions of postmodernity and place, see especially David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (Oxford, 1989), 201–307.

103 For useful summaries of the debate, see Mary Beth Pudup, “Arguments within Regional Geography,” Progress in Human Geography 12 (1988): 369–90; Anne Gilbert, “The New Regional Geography in English and French-Speaking Countries,” Progress in Human Geography 12 (1988): 208–28; and R. J. Johnston, A Question of Place: Exploring the Practice of Human Geography (Oxford, 1991), 38–68. For a somewhat recent and comprehensive account of the intersections of history and geography, see William Norton, Historical Analysis in Geography (New York, 1984).

104 Alexander Murphy, “Regions as Social Constructs: The Gap between Theory and Practice,” Progress in Human Geography 15 (1991): 23. He is referring not to the work of historians but to that of conventional regional geographers, but the charge has surprising force in a historiographical context as well.

105 A. Warde, “Recipes for a Pudding: A Comment on Locality,” Antipode 21 (1989): 279–80; Johnston, Question of Place, 68; Nigel Thrift, “For a New Regional Geography, 2,” Progress in Human Geography 15 (1991): 456–65.

106 Beatrice Ploch and Heinz Schilling, “Region als Handlungslandschaft: Überlokale Orientierung als Dispositiv und kulturelle Praxis—Hessen als Beispiel,” in Lindner, Die Wiederkehr des Regionalen, 122–57.

107 Wolfgang Lipp, ed., Industriegesellschaft und Regionalkultur (Cologne, 1984), ix; Karl Rohe, “Regionalkultur, regionale Identität und Regionalismus im Ruhrgebiet: Empirische Sachverhalte und theoretische Überlegungen,” in Lipp, Industriegesellschaft und Regionalkultur, 123.