Dr. Western is a professor of geography at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244.
RUSSIAN DOLLS OR SCALE SKIPPERS? TWO GENERATIONS IN STRASBOURG*
Version of Record online: 21 APR 2010
2008 American Geographical Society
Volume 98, Issue 4, pages 532–550, October 2008
How to Cite
WESTERN, J. (2008), RUSSIAN DOLLS OR SCALE SKIPPERS? TWO GENERATIONS IN STRASBOURG. Geographical Review, 98: 532–550. doi: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2008.tb00316.x
I wish to thank Mathias Le Bossé and Myriam Houssay-Holzschuch for their advice, Donald Mitchell and Mike Wasylenko for their support in Syracuse, and Raymond Bach, Fernand Jehl, and Doris Walter for theirs in Strasbourg.
- Issue online: 21 APR 2010
- Version of Record online: 21 APR 2010
ABSTRACT. Over the past quarter-century academic geographers have interrogated the concept of “scale.” It had previously been conceived as an unproblematic and mechanical item in geographical representation, a device for moving “up” from the finely detailed to the general. Regular, commonsensical steps were supposed to move one from the corporeal scale to the global scale, each scale nested into the next higher. Such is the “Russian-dolls” mode, whereby an individual considering his or her geographical identity—as in this study—would proceed hierarchically in scale from self, to city, to region, to nation, to continent. Ethnographic evidence from Strasbourg, France, however, reveals another mode: “scale skipping.” Here an individual, musing upon her or his identity, can plausibly make the leap from the individual to the supranational scale in one sentence. Instructive examples of both modes are furnished from two fifteen-strong groups of Strasburgers, selected for their presumed attachment to the supranational-scale ideal of “Europe.” The older group comprises professional Eurocrats; the younger group, college students returning to complete their studies in Strasbourg after attending universities elsewhere in the European Union through the Erasmus Program of study abroad.