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Istituto per i Beni Culturali Emilia-Romagna

Memoria e Ricerca

The nation-building in the frontier regions

di Rolf Petri
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 15 (2004), p. 5

In his introduction to the issue, the editor stresses the recent emergence of post-nationalistic approaches to the history of nationalisation of European border regions. The essays offer an imperfect, but nevertheless significant, perspective on subjects and methods. They range from the early modern times to presence, from German-Polish to Italian-Slovenian and French boundary regions, involving historiography as well as anthropology. The author points out that they can particularly well demonstrate the contingencies in (re-)construction processes of national, ethnic and linguistic identities. They show furthermore that ‘progress’ and ‘civilisation’ are frequently used, in Europe, as a legitimating tool of borderline drawing. National delimitation of territories shows however to be most of times imperfect. Previous and co-existent loyalties may be integrated to support national self-identification, but can not be prevented from persisting and living their own lives. In some cases, the gap between the imaginary and the political distribution of space between the Us and the Other shows to be resistant to all attempts of national propaganda and pedagogy. Borderlines are needed to re-assure the national Self in being existent and consistent. At the same time, they remember the Nation that her existence continues to be contingent, temporary, and open to further changes.