Leskelä, Maarit (ed.): Outsiders or Insiders? Constructing Identities in an Integrating Europe (Publications of the Doctoral Program on Cultural Interaction and Integration 4).. University of Turku, 1999. 286 sivua. ISBN 951-29-1503-0.
This collection of articles is based on presentations given at the summer schools organised by the Graduate School on Cultural Interaction and Integration at the University of Turku in 1997 and 1998. This graduate school has provided an interdisciplinary forum in which to exchange ideas between students and researchers from various disciplines and universities. The common theme of the book is the construction of identities as well as social and political processes of exclusion and inclusion in various national and European contexts. These are certainly topical issues and the book is therefore very welcome.
This book is an evidence of the broad areas of interest that have been covered in the above mentioned graduate school. The topics of the two summer schools were rather wide and this is also reflected in this collection of presentations (the meeting in 1997 was titled "Outsider’s Europe: Perspectives on Europe and its Integration" and in 1998 the topic was "Identity as a Cultural, Political and Economic Construct").
The articles included in this edited book discuss a variety of issues; some from a European perspective while others constitute national case studies. All in all, the book includes 13 contributions; some of the articles are thus relatively short. The construction of European identity and the search of a common European community is discussed from different perspectives in five of the articles. These articles are all very well written and give a good picture of both philosophical and practical aspects of European integration. The article by Emilios Christodoulidis discusses the relation between nation and community, a topic that is also dealt with in John Hiden’s article about the legacy of Paul Schiemann. Kevin Robins contributes with an article about European media culture and the topics of both Ian Ward’s and Clive H. Church’s articles are the Amsterdam Treaty. The issue of European integration is also dealt with in the article by Ivana Markova about ordinary people’s images and representations of democracy in six European countries.
The remaining seven articles constitute various case studies with a national perspective. The integration of immigrants is discussed in two well-written articles; Hans Entzinger writes about Dutch ethnic minority policies while Annika Forsander discusses Finnish immigration policy with particular reference to the Ingrian Finns. The integration of Samis into Norwegian society is the topic of Vigdis Stordahl’s article and Pertti Grönholm discusses the position of the Estonians on the border between East and West. The book also includes three articles, which are well written but strictly speaking do not really relate to the title of the book. One is not related to Europe at all (Kate Lowe’s presentation of a research project about Hong Kong Chinese identity) and two articles are mainly related to English cultural history and not to contemporary Europe (Janne Mäkelä’s article about the Beatles and the Mersey Beat as well as Eugene McLaughlin’s article about the "Bobby" as a representation of Englishness in the period 1829-1950).
All the included articles are well written and interesting. However, the articles could perhaps more clearly have related to each other and the book as a whole would have benefited from a more clear focus. Obviously, this is of course a common problem in edited books. On the basis of the short preface the reason why these articles are included is that they have been presented at the two summer schools of the Graduate School on Cultural Interaction and Integration. Thus, the character of the book is more of a conference proceedings than of a comprehensive book about the construction of identities in an integrating Europe. The articles are on their own generally of a very good academic standard, and the main impression of the book is thus that the parts are more than the whole, rather than the other way around.
All in all, the contributions are generally very well written and discuss various topical issues in Europe of today. The book will certainly be of interest to anybody who is interested in the contemporary political, social and cultural developments concerning European integration.