The Seipel Line.

In a recent comment, Aidan Kehoe linked to Coby Lubliner’s 2004 essay “Europe East and West: the Seipel Line,” which I found so interesting I thought I’d make a post of it. There’s no point trying to summarize it; what makes it so interesting is the accumulation of details, so I’ll quote a couple of paragraphs to give you the idea:

The Seipel Line does not penetrate very deeply into Italy. In various parts of mainland Italy there are long-established linguistic enclaves of speakers of Albanian, Greek, Occitan, and some German dialects, and in Sardinia the traditional languages are Romance but not Italian (namely, Sardinian and Catalan); and while these people may be attached to their languages, they show no sense of being national minorities: as in Aosta, they regard themselves as fully Italian. Non-Italian Romance languages are also spoken in the aforementioned regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige: Friulian in the former, Ladin in the latter (as well as in Belluno province in Venetia). Friulian-speakers are unswervingly Italian, but the Ladins, who under Austrian rule were considered a distinct nationality, are a curious special case. They number only a few tens of thousands; they live in five non-adjacent valleys in the Dolomite Alps, each with its own dialect and with no common standard language, divided among three provinces with different norms of language protection in each. In Belluno province they identify, by and large, as Italians speaking a minority language, but in Trentino-Alto Adige they regard themselves as something like a nationality, and in this region’s Bolzano province (South Tyrol) many of them are affiliated with the German community and give most of their votes to the Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP), the province’s main German party, whose original platform called for reunification with Austria. (Shades of Habsburg nostalgia, perhaps.)

The segment of the line that is wholly in Italy may thus be regarded as extending no further than the southern boundary of pre-1918 Austria, with the Tagliamento, as it empties into the Adriatic, as the final stretch. The line then goes through the Ionian Sea into the Mediterranean.

Thanks, Aidan!

Comments

  1. David Marjanović says:

    The essay is interesting. The 400-kg gorilla in the room, though, is the fact that the EU expansion of 1 January 2004 was seen as a historic expansion into eastern Europe by European media for a much better known reason: the Iron Curtain. Except for Malta and Cyprus, all the countries that joined that day had been on the east side of the Iron Curtain, while all earlier EU members other than the special case of eastern Germany had been on the west side.

    I didn’t know Seipel theorized about politics. Not much about him is taught other than his nickname Prälat ohne Milde “prelate without leniency”.

    Fun fact: Deutschländer appears to exist as a self-designation among the German-speaking diaspora in southeastern Hungary…

    Quotes from the essay:

    On the other hand, religious unity is not always a necessary condition for ethnic nationhood. While Serbocroat-speakers are divided into three ethnic nations based on religion, their Albanian-speaking neighbors belong to the Albanian nation whether they are Catholic, Orthodox or Muslim.

    The Albanians have a remarkable history of hardly caring about religion at all, changing religion back and forth for convenience all the time in centuries when the Czechs, so godless today, were still fervent believers. The communist dictator made Albania the only officially atheist state in history (y’know, there is no god, and Enver Hoxha is his Prophet…)

    The Flemish independence party, Vlaams Blok, has been accused of advocating an ethnic, even racist, brand of nationalism, but its program, which includes maintaining Brussels – the projected capital of an independent Flanders – as bilingual, does not seem to bear this out, and its political activity includes canvassing for votes among the Jews of Antwerp.

    First, that’s how the modern European extreme right works. It’s not a celebration of one’s own people or anything like that; it’s fear & loathing of The Other. The Flemish independence party (now under a different name) has at least as much against Moroccan immigrants as against Walloons. If the Jews of Antwerp can be classified as harmless speakers of Dutch, they’ll be seen as natural allies by at least some in the movement; witness how the FPÖ canvasses for votes among the Serbs of Vienna as part of its epic struggle against the Turks.

    Second, “I’m the one who gets to decide who is a Jew”. Three names: Bannon, Kushner, Netanyahu.

    and in Sardinia the traditional languages are Romance but not Italian (namely, Sardinian and Catalan); and while these people may be attached to their languages, they show no sense of being national minorities: as in Aosta, they regard themselves as fully Italian.

    Part of the reason may be the fact that Italy is historically an enlarged Sardinia… under Mussolini, the Sardinian language was outlawed except for the royal anthem.

    the Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP), the province’s main German party, whose original platform called for reunification with Austria. (Shades of Habsburg nostalgia, perhaps.)

    A few years of Mussolini will do that to you.

    To Germany’s east there have for centuries been settlements of ethnic Germans, whether directly beside the border (as in the Sudeten) or well beyond (as on the Volga). These people (whose designation changed, post-Hitler, from Volksdeutsche to Aussiedler) have never ceased to regard themselves as Germans, and in fact modern Germany had, until the year 2000, something comparable to Israel’s Law of Return, granting them automatic German citizenship (following what is traditionally known as ius sanguinis, the “law of the blood”). Indeed, the great majority of them availed themselves of this law, and the German communities left in Rumania, Slovakia, Poland, Russia and so on have become quite small.

    You can turn that around, though: any Russians who could flee between 1991 and 2000 did so, and that mostly includes those who discovered they had a right to German citizenship. The Russian language is pretty firmly established in Berlin now, and I’ve encountered fluently bilingual children.

    Nonetheless, German citizenship law is merely a law and not yet a part of the constitution. There is no guarantee that a return to power by the Christian Democrats will not bring back the old ways.

    The Christian Democrats have been back in power for quite some time, but there is no coalition partner who would go along with bringing back the old ways, neither the libertarian-light FDP nor the SPD, so the old ways are gone for good and aren’t even spoken of anymore.

    thus making Denmark, oddly enough, into an “Eastern” state; for the German-Danish border that was created by the 1920 plebiscite dividing Schleswig into the Danish north and the German south left minority Germans in the former and minority Danes in the latter, and these groups continue to view themselves as Germans and Danes, respectively, with Eastern-style national-minority status.

    The North Frisians on the German side tend to vote for the Danish party, too, I’m told.

    the rise of political parties characterized by anti-Muslim xenophobia in such traditionally hospitable countries as Italy, France and Holland

    And Belgium, see above.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the new countries of the European Union as their economies progress to the point of their becoming magnets for immigrants from Muslim lands. Dealing with unassimilated minorities is part of their nature as national states, and while the record of most of them in such dealings has been far from exemplary, at times even states may learn from experience. Will this experience prove helpful in averting the West’s problems?

    Right now, the Polish, Czech, Slovak and Hungarian governments are way too xenophobic to let this experiment take place.

  2. (I moved DM’s comment from the other thread.)

  3. David Marjanović says:

    Third, I forgot, maybe the Flemish independence party is trying to play out the old North Irish joke: “Alright, but are you a Catholic Jew or a Protestant Jew!?!” – The Jews and the royal family of Belgium, from what I’ve read, have been aware of this danger for a long time and are therefore the only people with a Belgian identity*, trying hard to keep an equal distance to Flemings and Walloons.

    * …even though, in French at least, the king’s title is Roi des Belges.

  4. David Eddyshaw says:

    the Flemish independence party is trying to play out the old North Irish joke: “Alright, but are you a Catholic Jew or a Protestant Jew!?!”

    This is the punchline, pretty much, of the Jewish joke in Pinsky’s “Impossible to Tell.” I won’t do violence to the poem by trying to paraphrase it; I recommend it to both of the Hatters who don’t know it already.

  5. Nice essay, but wouldn’t it be a piece of cake find equally eloquent counterexamples to his anecdotal examples of “people identifying as X rather than Y”?
    Furthermore, the notion is nation-state defined by a common political system rather than common language and customs is nothing Western, historically.That’s how the Steppe hordes operated all along, as tribal amalgamations of many tongues but one destiny. Then the original Hungarians, with their wide-spread inclusion of non-Magyar horsemen, would be the first Western Model State of Europe?
    I suspect Seipel, rather than “drawing cultural lines across the Continent”, was mostly being apologetic to the German Austrians, the former elite layer minority of the grand Empire-and-Kingdom. Like they meant so well to all those countless other ethnic groups, what could have possibly gone wrong, why were they repaid with such ingratitude? Oh, but of course, Seipel explains, it was because of this Eastern Specifics of the ethnic identity, rather than because Vienna took an unsustainable course on ruling the majority-minority empire, and empowering the restive ethnic communities, and hoping that the exception of Switzerland is bound to happen again. But wouldn’t you agree that, when speakers of one language and followers of one faith are the ruling class, while another language and religion is powerless, the things may go South pretty quickly once the ruling class’s appetite for brutal suppression disappears?

  6. David Marjanović says:

    Nice essay, but wouldn’t it be a piece of cake find equally eloquent counterexamples to his anecdotal examples of “people identifying as X rather than Y”?

    Go ahead, do it, I’m curious 🙂

    and hoping that the exception of Switzerland is bound to happen again

    Of course there was no chance of that. Switzerland survived the invention of nationalism because, like the US, it has a national mythology, a national founding event full of symbolicism, that creates an identity. (So does republican France, which is why there hasn’t been an Occitan separatist movement and why the Alsatians weren’t half as happy as expected when their Prussian liberators showed up.) Austria-Hungary had nothing once medieval allegiance to the ruling dynasty was gone and people stopped naming their sons Rudolf.

    And people at the time noticed. There’s a novel or something from WWI where a character remarks that the German emperor might still reign by the grace of the Nation when God forsakes him, but the Austrian emperor will be out of luck when that happens.

    Interwar Czechoslovakia was promoted as a second Switzerland, and so was Lebanon later. Both haven’t worked well, and both lack founding myths.

  7. Then the original Hungarians, with their wide-spread inclusion of non-Magyar horsemen, would be the first Western Model State of Europe?

    They were more an empire (a nomadic rather than a settled empire) than a civic nation. From the viewpoint of ethnic nationality, empires and civic nations do look similar, and if you happen to be an ethnic minority inside a civic nation, like Natives or African Americans in the U.S., then it certainly feels more like an empire to you, one that locks you out permanently unless you assimilate completely. The difference is that neither group in the U.S. has anywhere to go: there is no mythical or actual homeland outside the U.S. for any of them, any more than there is for Occitan-speakers in France. Some parts of the Black Power movement tried to create an ethnic homeland in Africa, but that didn’t work out well at all: “Africa” was too much of an abstraction to be anyone’s homeland.

    Note that unlike its eventual successor states, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was emphatically a civic nation, so at that time they were on the “western” side of the line.

  8. “Greenlanders in Copenhagen do not feel themselves to be Danes, quite unlike, say, Corsicans in Paris or Catalans in Madrid, or even Puerto Ricans in New York.”

    As a tourist in Bolivia, I met a tourist from Barcelona who declared himself with parodic, all-obliterating hauteur to be “no Español! Catalán!”

  9. Second, “I’m the one who gets to decide who is a Jew”. Three names: Bannon, Kushner, Netanyahu.

    Bannon is an Irish Catholic, at least according to official sources.

  10. I don’t think the point was that Bannon is Jewish but that he decides who he’ll accept as OK and who is a bad “Jew”; after all, “Wer a Jud is, bestimm i!” was famously said by Karl Lueger — no Jew he. (For those who don’t know, Lueger is trisyllabic: lu-E-ger, rhymes with Reger.)

  11. Señor Sombrero’s choice of words is typically felicitous, “famously said” here having the traditional value of “unattestedly attributed”

  12. Quite. But is it worth living in a world where you can’t make hay with unattestedly attributed quotes?

  13. Giacomo Ponzetto says:

    Part of the reason may be the fact that Italy is historically an enlarged Sardinia…

    High-school history is notoriously unreliable, and David may well know Italian history better than I. With this caveat, I doubt the statement above is true other than in a narrow legal sense. The Kingdom of Italy was, at least dynastically and administratively, an enlarged Kingdom of Sardinia. But the Kingdom of Sardinia (1720-1861) was, dynastically and administratively and I suspect in all other respects, not Sardinian (in the sense of the island) but Piedmontese.

    A case can surely be made for a disproportionate Piedmontese influence over Italian politics in its early days, certainly under the Historical Right (1861-76) and possibly all the way to World War I and Fascism, since Giovanni Giolitti was Piedmontese. Conversely, I cannot recall any important Sardinian politicians before 1946. At that late stage, I’d already view the Berlinguer and Segni families as Italian political dynasties that happened to be from Sardinia, rather than Sardinian political dynasties with a disproportionate influence over Italy. Needless to say, perceptions on the island itself may vary — I should perhaps disclose that I’m Turinese myself.

  14. J.W. Brewer says:

    At one point (at least according to the internet, so caveat lector as to some of the details) the full titles of the Piedmontese monarch ran “per la grazia di Dio Re di Sardegna, Cipro, Gerusalemme e Armenia; Duca di Savoia, Monferrato, Chablais, Aosta e Genevese; Principe di Piemonte ed Oneglia; Marchese in Italia, di Saluzzo, Susa, Ivrea, Ceva, Maro, Oristano, Sezana; Conte di Moriana, Nizza, Tenda, Asti, Alessandria, Goceano; Barone di Vaud e di Faucigny; Signore di Vercelli, Pinerolo, Tarantasia, Lumellino, Val di Sesia; Principe e Vicario perpetuo del Sacro Romano Impero in Italia.” Now, Sardinia was at the time in the actual possession and de facto rule of the House of Savoy whereas Cyprus, Jerusalem, and Armenia were regrettably under the temporary de facto control of others, but it’s not clear whether that really made the Savoyard regime any more Sardinian than it was Cypriot. (British sovereigns did not abandon the nominal claim to be king of France on their coins until circa 1800, so it’s not like the fantasy-world aspect of the claim to those eastern realms was all that idiosyncratic.)

  15. And when Sardinia was finished with the business of unifying Italy, both the dynasty’s home (Savoy) and the national hero’s home (Nice) had somehow ended up unified with France instead.

    There’s an interesting parallel with Germany, too, I think: in both cases a burgeoning feudal state with a somewhat marginal position (Piedmont, Brandenburg) was united with an even more marginal state and “stole” its name (Sardinia, Prussia) before eventually gaining dominance over the entire country.

  16. Trond Engen says:

    .Yes, a union with a monarchy outside the empire made a formally vassal prince the formal equal of his formal emperor and able to establish an independent military force. Brandenburg-Prussia and Piemonte-Sardinia are prime examples, but also Schleswig-Holstein-Denmark. Luxemburg-Bohemia is an early example — a Hapsburg-Hungary in the making before the latter got a firm grip on the imperial crown. One might argue that it was the extraordinary extraimperial possessions that gave the Hapsburgs the grip until Brandenburg finally catched up.

  17. The Kingdom of Sicily was an even more curious case. The direct successor of the Norman-ruled County of Sicily, it included both the island and considerable mainland territory until 1282, when the Sicilian Vespers, a popular insurrection, destroyed French power on the island. The rump state continued to be officially the Kingdom of Sicily (but colloquially the Kingdom of Naples after its capital) until its remerger with the island in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna.

    Sicily itself was officially the Kingdom of Trinacria, after the island’s Roman name, during that time. The kingdoms were sometimes held by different dynasties, sometimes by separate rulers of the same dynasty, and sometimes in personal union under the same ruler, but were always juridically distinct. The merged kingdom restored the name “Kingdom of the Two Sicilies” that had been used during one of the periods of personal union, but in 1860 it was overthrown and conquered by the Kingdom of Sardinia to form the Kingdom of Italy.

    ObHat: During the initial phase of the Sicilian Vespers, the Sicilian word cìciri [ˈçiçɪɾɪ] ‘chickpeas’ was used as a shibboleth against the French.

  18. Trond Engen says:

    until Brandenburg finally catched up

    I don’t think I’ve made that error before. I remember redeciding from “were able to catch up”, but still.

  19. (Not quite sure why we’re discussing a piece from 2004 but …)

    Lubliner is just wrong. (I’m not going to be as deferential as David M.) “Eastern Europe” throughout the second half of C20th means east of the Iron Curtain. It was majorly difficult to visit any of those countries, until the fall of the Curtain; whereas you could travel freely west of the Curtain. So the whole baby boom generation grew up with a) don’t mention the war; and b) be staunch against the Reds. Paradoxically, Yugoslavia under Tito was easier to visit, but thereafter became unsafe to visit.

    All Lubliner’s opening paragraph is pointing out is that these countries do indeed count as European.

    I doubt many (Western) EU residents would count Byelorussia, Ukraine, Russia proper as European atall. (OK Petersburg was founded on a European model. I would call that Europe extra muris.)

    That is why the current grave misgivings about Turkey joining the EU. Istanbul/Constantinople might be European historically, but Turkey is just not Europe.

  20. (Not quite sure why we’re discussing a piece from 2004 but …)

    I don’t want to shock you, but we’ve discussed things that were thousands of years old.

  21. David Marjanović says:

    Bannon is an Irish Catholic, at least according to official sources.

    I didn’t mean to say he was Jewish, I meant to say he’s anti-Semitic! Trump listens alternatingly to him and to Kushner, without caring about the resulting inconsistency.

    “Wer a Jud is, bestimm i!”

    I don’t know why people trying to convey the dialect in writing don’t notice that the m is short (long consonants are shortened where the ends of words were in the 15th century or so); consonant length is alive and kicking in Austrian Standard German.

    (For those who don’t know, Lueger is trisyllabic: lu-E-ger, rhymes with Reger.)

    True, though a spelling pronunciation.

    I doubt the statement above is true other than in a narrow legal sense. The Kingdom of Italy was, at least dynastically and administratively, an enlarged Kingdom of Sardinia.

    That’s all I mean; it’s enough to make people prouder than they’d be otherwise.

    British sovereigns did not abandon the nominal claim to be king of France on their coins until circa 1800

    They weren’t kings of Jerusalem? Everyone else was, the Austrian emperor right up to the end.

    I doubt many (Western) EU residents would count Byelorussia, Ukraine, Russia proper as European atall.

    Indeed; “Europe” and “the EU” are increasingly equated, or were before the Brexit referendum.

  22. I doubt many (Western) EU residents would count Byelorussia, Ukraine, Russia proper as European at all. (OK Petersburg was founded on a European model. I would call that Europe extra muris.)

    What?! Of course the part of the world of Bulgakov, Tchaikovsky, Nabokov is European. What else would it be? Middle eastern? Asiatic? The place isn’t currently run by Mongols, you know.

    Lubliner is not a baby-boomer, and he writes from his own perspective. Nor am I, and Cold War approaches haven’t been relevant in decades.

  23. True, though a spelling pronunciation.

    Huh? Surely the spelling pronunciation would make it equal to Lüger, which is how everybody thinks it’s pronounced. Isn’t that what “ue” means in German spelling?

  24. @Hat … things that were thousands of years old

    Yes, sure things. And I mentioned Constantinople and Petersburg (well, ok hundreds of years).

    “History” also includes things/events only decades old, in my lifetime and handed down from my (grand)parents’ lifetime — of which Lubliner seems oblivious. But surely they are just as much going to influence concepts of boundaries in Europe.

    My comment was about a piece, which was trying to claim some relevance to events in 2004. But that relevance was spurious then, and the piece should be left to moulder, as any newspaper opinion piece from 2004.

    If there is some serious point about historical concepts of Europe East/West or perceived national/cultural identity — which is indeed always of interest for Hatters — the article needs to either include the Cold War/Iron curtain; or stop at 1928 and be shorn of the ridiculous stretch to the EU in C21st.

    The piece riffs on a political (and politically self-serving) remark from 1928. And appears to claim something has endured in Europe from that time, despite later convulsions in Europe. Lubliner manages to mention the Hitler era whilst skirting the whole of a World War and its ethnic and nationalistic atrocities. (Russian-on-Polish as well as Nazi-on-Jews and Russian/Byelorussian/Polish-on-Jews.) Nor mention the Iron Curtain or the Cold War — whose main effect was to reinforce the perception of Russia as non-European (as East of Europe).

    So if anywhere is going to count as ‘Eastern Europe’, that has to include the Baltic States and Poland, and the former A-H Eastern empire. Lubliner is just wrong.

  25. David Eddyshaw says:

    I was once brought up short when a Hungarian interrupted me in in full flow to say “Thankyou, thankyou!”
    On my asking why, he explained that I’d just described Hungary as “Central European.” Naturally enough … European countries don’t come any centraller than Hungary.

    It wouldn’t have occurred to me that my usage was non-standard, though my Hungarian friend’s reaction pretty much proves it was, I suppose.

    This would have been about 1995, which may be significant. I don’t think I would have called Hungary “Eastern European” even in Iron Curtain days, though, except perhaps in a context specifically discussing that very thing.

  26. David Marjanović says:

    What?! […] What else would it be?

    It’s common to contrast “Europe” and “Russia”.

    Putin, from St. Petersburg, has nothing against that. Quite the opposite: he listens (or pretends to listen?) to “Eurasianist” ideologues like Dugin who claim that Russia is a very special thing in the middle that must not blindly imitate “Europe” or any other fundamentally foreign place.

    Isn’t that what “ue” means in German spelling?

    The idea is that the good man is a “looker” and his ue is the diphthong that is widely written ue in Switzerland today, and also in modern editions of Middle High German; it corresponds to modern Standard long u.

  27. David Marjanović says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve encountered “eastern Europe” meaning everything between the former Iron Curtain and Russia, not including Russia.

  28. the diphthong that is widely written ue in Switzerland today

    My grandmother once indulged me by expanding on the ever-favorite Schwizerdütsch shibboleth Chuchichäschtli ‘kitchen cupboard’, and coming up with Chuechechuchichäschtli ‘kitchen cupboard for cakes’.

  29. @Aidan K … the part of the world of Bulgakov, Tchaikovsky, Nabokov is European. …

    Bulgakov Ukraine. Tchaikovsky Petersburg. Nabokov Petersburg/America. For that matter: Stravinsky Petersburg/Paris. Prokofiev Ukraine/Petersburg/emigre. Shostakovich Petersburg. I’ll allow Ukraine as semi-Europe. Petersburg, as I said, is a bubble of Europeanism. Wikipedia on Tchaikovsky “Russian culture exhibited a split personality, with its native and adopted elements having drifted apart increasingly since the time of Peter the Great. This resulted in uncertainty among the intelligentsia about the country’s national identity …”

    What else would it be? Middle eastern? Asiatic?
    Yes. “North-Western Asian” would fit the bill. Middle Eastern for the Caucases.

    The place isn’t currently run by Mongols, you know.
    I look at Putin’s face. I see him on horseback. I see him barechested. I see him murdering political opponents. I see Ghengis Khan.

    Lubliner … writes from his own perspective.

    Sure. As personal experience, his piece is interesting. As history, it’s bunkum. As commentary on countries joining the EU in 2004 it is best forgotten. There is a far more culturally observant narrative getting smothered in some preposterous attempt to be ‘contemporary’.

    Cold War approaches haven’t been relevant in decades.

    Yes we’re now post-Soviet. But if the Cold War is not relevant, far less relevant is some blathering by a politican in 1928. In trying to draw a line from north to south Europe, Lubliner is trying to draw a line in history/culture from 1928 to 2004, yet somehow ignoring the very physical barrier that divided Europe for two generations.

    I see Putin. KGB apparatchik. Learnt his trade in the Cold War. Never known Russia as part of Europe (despite his German studies). Never known the sovereignity of independent nations. (Whatever Lubliner’s claimed basis for cultural identification, I doubt Putin respects it.) No surprise he would attempt to subvert other countries’ political systems. The Cold War has never seemed more relevant. ‘Bout time America paid attention to history.

  30. @David M “Europe” and “the EU” are increasingly equated, …

    (Thank heavens not equated with the Eurovision Song Contest, at least 😉

    But I beg to differ: Sweden and Switzerland are accepted as “Europe”, whatever their relationship with the EU. The countries that joined in 2004 were accepted as “Europe” all through the Soviet era. So it was more that they were being “welcomed home”. Is Istanbul “Europe”? Is trans-Bosphorus Turkey “Europe”? I say no. And I won’t change my answer if Turkey joins the EU.

    … or were before the Brexit referendum.

    Scotland is “Europe”. Ireland (all of it) is “Europe”. Britain joining the EU did not make England/Wales “Europe” (I was there at the time). So Britain leaving the EU could hardly make England less “Europe” than it is(n’t) already.

    What I quoted to Aidan K about Peter the Great’s thin graft of Europeanism on Russia seems relevant: the Hannoverian thin graft on England has never truly ‘taken’. All it’s produced is schizophrenia for the intelligentsia.

    If, per Lubliner, we’re approaching the subject through personal experience: a large part of my reason for leaving England (and Britain, although I had no quarrel with the non-English parts) was Margaret Thatcher’s hostility to the European civilising enterprise.

  31. SFReader says:

    Welcome to St. Petersburg – the largest city of North-Western Asia…

  32. J.W. Brewer says:

    Let me make a more qualified criticism of Dr. Lubliner’s essay,which I first stumbled across some years ago and enjoyed. France is almost the paradigm of the “Western” model which is supposedly all about the territorial nation and its non-genetically-transmitted values rather than the ethnic group. But that is according to *one* ideological understanding of Frenchness, dating to a somewhat romanticized vision-in-hindsight of 1789 et seq. and la Republique. That long was and probably still is a contested understanding, even though it has (with some interruptions) been the official and government-sponsored understanding for most of the last two centuries and change. Much of the bitterness of politics in the Third Republic was due the fact that a quite substantial portion of the population did *not* believe in the official Republican values of the regime but had rival understandings of Frenchness, reflecting a more blood-and-soil and/or throne-and-altar style of nationalism. That rival narrative came to power (well, a somewhat circumscribed sort of power) during the VIchy period, and then got skunked by that association, but has perhaps never completely gone away. As best as I can tell from a distance, Madame Le Pen is trying both to appeal to the minority (but not an immaterial one) that still holds to that rival vision while also using values-of-the-Republic rhetoric (hey, it turns out that laicite can be used against Islam just as it was used against Catholicism a century earlier) to broaden her coalition.

  33. I think what Mr. Lubliner is most interested in is whether a state includes and recognizes historic ethnic minorities within its borders. And whether people within these minorities feel themselves distinct from the “titular” nation and not an integral part of it with maybe some cultural differences. I am not very knowledgeable about ethnic history of France in the last 200 years, but, with a huge exception of Jews, I’ve never heard that French at large considered any part of long-time inhabitants of France as somehow not French, no matter what they might have regarded as “true Frenchness”.

  34. @David E … I’d just described Hungary as “Central European.” Naturally enough … European countries don’t come any centraller than Hungary.

    This would have been about 1995, which may be significant.

    Hmm. Slippery this ethno-cultural geography. Not sure I’ve heard “Central European” used much recently.

    Lubliner (in the tradition of grand over-arching dichotomies) doesn’t have a third category — he’d rather treat central Germany as a “smear”.

    I rather think the carve-up of West/East Europe aligns to the carve-up of West/East Germany. And would then make its way South along the carve-up of Austria/Chechoslovakia-Hungary.

    I don’t think I would have called Hungary “Eastern European” even in Iron Curtain days, …

    Hmm? The constant difficulty of where to draw lines on maps. Vienna-Budapest form an axis along the Danube. That’s more or less central North-to-South. There’s rather a lot of Austria west from Vienna, and a lot of Hungary east from Budapest.

    Putin is carving Russia away from Europe (as others have noted). So the centre of gravity of Europe has moved westwards in the post-Soviet era.

    Some authorities seem to include Switzerland and even Belgium as “Central Europe”. I can’t agree with “don’t come any centraller than Hungary”. At best Hungary is on the Eastern fringe of Central Europe.

    Alas we’re not allowed the luxury of fudging it. West or East. Choose one. Hungary is East.

  35. SFReader says:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/16/Frankish_Empire_481_to_814-en.svg

    “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent”

  36. @SFReader Welcome to St. Petersburg – the largest city of North-Western Asia…

    No. The largest city would be Moscow. Which is rather the point. Petersburg is now a backwater (Stalin saw to that; and Putin, born in Petersburg, moved to Moscow).

    Welcome to Vladivostok — the principal port of Eastern Europe?

    Sure the Eastern border of Europe as a cultural construct is an arbitrary line on a map. Sure 150 years ago it might have extended quite a way into Russia. Today/post-Soviet not so much.

    And you seem to be deaf to my allowing Petersburg as an exclave of Europe.

  37. SFReader says:

    Surely Moscow is in West Asia…

  38. SFReader says:

    Border between North-West Asia and West Asia runs through Bologoye train station.

  39. SFReader, I know what you are talking about, but it should be a little bit to the north https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Russian_dialects

  40. SFReader says:

    Thanks for the map. It has more refined division of West Asia – North West Asia, Central West Asia and South West Asia.

  41. Marja Erwin says:

    In Firefox, with redirects disabled, the link redirects to:

    http://faculty.ce.berkeley.edu/coby/

    And the links from there all redirect back.

  42. @Marja, Hat’s link works for me. Failing that Google “Seipel Lubliner” — first hit.

  43. January First-of-May says:

    Border between North-West Asia and West Asia runs through Bologoye train station.

    IMHO, the border between North-West Asia and West Asia is basically the southern border of the USSR in the Caucasus (or maybe a little bit north of that).
    You can hardly say that Ankara and Haifa don’t count as West Asia (unless you don’t count them as Asia at all – I guess Haifa could be in Africa).

    The border between North-West Asia and North Asia is probably what you meant, but I’d put it either at Ignach Cross (about thirty miles WNW of Bologoye), or at Khimki (just northwest of Moscow). Though come to think of it the latter boundary would pass only a few miles south of Ignach Cross anyway.
    That said, it’s hard to credit putting Karelia in Asia, and once we put Karelia in Europe it’s not clear why Saint-Petersburg isn’t there too. In which case the boundary is probably the White Sea-Baltic canal (or maybe a little bit south of it).

    Purely geographically speaking, of course, North-West Asia is that one big peninsula to the west of Karelia. The local inhabitants (especially the people from the more western parts, such as Bergen or Oslo) would probably disagree, however.
    (And, ironically enough, anything west of Volga-Baltic and north of Kumo-Manych – including Moscow, and half of Saint-Petersburg – is still in Europe anyway.)

    EDIT: didn’t think of the dialects, nice map! Still only a few miles from Ignach Cross (but in the other direction).

  44. Trond Engen says:

    Purely geographically speaking I don’t disagree at all. We might as well push the western border to the end of the forest steppe in Poland and the Carpathians. I’d even say that that even bigger peninsula west of the Carpathians and the Oder is part of Asia.

  45. David Eddyshaw says:

    “Britain joining the EU did not make England/Wales “Europe” (I was there at the time).”

    Here in Wales, I am still, as I always have been, in Europe, both before and after the recent xenophobia-infested dishonest referendum. I am not alone in this.

    I was also “there at the time” of Wilson’s referendum. I voted in favour, not of joining Europe, which would have been a sort of tautology, but of joining the EEC, which like the EU, has never been synonymous with “Europe” except in journalists’ lazy headlinese.

    Perhaps having lived in Africa for a while helped to clarify my thinking on these matters. British, French, Italians, Hungarians, Russians, we all are Europeans. Even the Welsh.

  46. As a fully paid-up member of Europe-beyond-the-Sea, otherwise known as St. Petersburg West, it seems to me that it is possible to draw a vast number of roughly north-south lines through Europe for different purposes, none of which is the division between East and West (with or without Central). It also seems to me that Lubliner has gotten hold of a genuine fact about the way that (broadly considered) civic and ethnic nations are laid out on the map of Europe. No nation is absolutely civic: there are always countertrends, which in the case of the U.S. amounted to civil war, and that’s because it’s a new thing under the sun, unlike ethnic nationality and empire, which are as old as history and probably far older.

  47. Do not think, not that I’m saying you did, that physical geography will help:

    Once upon a time, “How many continents are there” was one of those questions with straightforward answers, like “How many colours are in a rainbow” or “what is the weather like in summer”. There are seven. Of course there are seven: all those picture books I had as a kid said there were seven.

    Except, it turns out that, as with so many of the things we tell our children, this number owed as much to social convention as it does to objective reality. And social conventions can differ: depending on where you are in the world, there can be anywhere between four and seven continents, and you sometimes don’t have to travel very far to get a different answer.

  48. the European civilising enterprise

    All Africa and Asia are filled with memories of the Europeans who came to civilize and stayed to loot, rape, and murder. The phrase is tainted now, whatever you may have meant by it.

  49. David Eddyshaw says:

    “it seems to me that it is possible to draw a vast number of roughly north-south lines through Europe for different purposes, none of which is the division between East and West (with or without Central).”

    Spot on, along with the rest of that post. This is all logomachy; not that I object to a bit of logomachy now and again.

    I must also admit (to undermine my own point) that citizens of St Petersburg West are also European from an African standpoint – including black citizens, culture easily trumping genetics in this regard.

  50. Even the Welsh.

    “In the first [dialogue], [the speakers] are a little crazy, and in the second one they are not only crazy but Welsh.”

    (Context.)

  51. David Eddyshaw says:

    Agree too with JC that Cory Lubliner has made an interesting and valuable distinction. It seems to me that the weak spot in his essay is trying to make the distinction correlate too neatly with East versus West. Counterexamples come to mind all too readily on both sides. France is in many ways exceptional in its concept of nationhood even in the West, as is the USA; and the fragility of that concept is lately becoming all too apparent even there. On the other hand, Japan has always had a concept of statehood (so far as it makes sense to speak of it without anachronism) tied up with “race.” The supposed orientality is weighted heavily by the Ottoman empire, itself scarcely typical of anything other than itself.

    As AntC implies, time seems a much more important dimension than space here. The horrors of the last century have everything to do with wholesale shifts toward the idea that “race” is the only valid basis of statehood. As a political ideology, there’s a good case that this is Western in origin, but it’s hardly the only strand in Western political thought; and the doctrine finds fruitful soil in unregenerate human nature everywhere.

  52. David Eddyshaw says:

    I suppose one way of putting it might be that the horrors arise from attempts to illegitimately *combine* the two concepts of nationhood. Neither in itself need be toxic. There is much to be said in favour of both the French and the Ottoman ideals at their best, even if one is temperamentally much more inclined to one than the other (I suspect a majority of Hatters are natural Ottomans.)

  53. Agree too with JC that Cory Lubliner has made an interesting and valuable distinction. It seems to me that the weak spot in his essay is trying to make the distinction correlate too neatly with East versus West.

    I agree with both points.

  54. Yes, it’s easy to find weak spots. Lubliner classifies Denmark as ethnic nationalist based on its tiny German minority, but its treatment of Danish Jews, and even stateless German Jews, during WWII (about which he says not a word) was in the finest traditions of civic nationalism.

    I forget who said that the Japanese have nothing in common with one another except Japaneseness, but that has always seemed to me the epitome of ethnic nationalism.

    The horrors of the last century have everything to do with wholesale shifts toward the idea that “race” is the only valid basis of statehood.

    Not so much shifts toward it, but attempts to return to it after the discrediting of empire after WWI. It’s against the background of the Enlightenment, and using the tools that the Enlightenment provided, that the Endarkenment (which I don’t identify with ethnic nationalism as such) became so violent. Every time it tries again, it becomes nastier but weaker. I remain optimistic.

    (Damn. After having no trouble before, I am now getting the same redirects as Marja.)

  55. David L says:

    Sometime in the early 1980s, when I was in Cambridge, we had a young American postdoc visiting who was on his first trip outside the US. He said that he wanted to travel around England and see the sights, and someone asked him “are you going to visit Europe while you’re here?” He looked perplexed. I thought I was already in Europe, he said. He was soon disabused of that absurd idea.

    “Central Europe” has a strongly historical flavor for me — Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bohemia, etc. Central Europe disappeared when the Iron Curtain came down and Europe was split sharply into West and East.

  56. David Eddyshaw says:

    Re Denmark: Bulgaria in communist times conducted a vile policy of forced assimilation of its very large Turkish minority; yet during the war, despite a pro-Nazi government and shocking mistreatment of Jews, the actual people of Bulgaria showed admirable resistance to the planned deportation and extermination of the Jews of Bulgaria proper, which never took place. These matters are never simple, and that may indeed be grounds for hope.

  57. David Eddyshaw says:

    “are you going to visit Europe while you’re here?”

    I remember once in Athens airport overhearing two archetypally American middle-aged couples talking, when one asked another “Have you ever visited Europe before?” I was very struck by the “Europe” as opposed to “Greece.”

    Americans can perhaps be forgiven for naturally thinking in continental terms, however. I would imagine that Greece would constitute a very small State if it were part of the USA.

  58. January First-of-May says:

    What isn’t very visible on the map of the continental plates pictured on the linked page is that Israel is almost entirely on the African plate, not the Arabian one.
    A few years ago, I tried to figure out what plates I’ve been to in my life (not counting the places I flew over in airplanes, though in this case it doesn’t really matter); Israel counts as the African plate, as I have mentioned, while every place outside Israel I’ve been to is Eurasian (including Uzbekistan and Armenia).
    However, to find out if I’ve ever visited the Arabian plate I had to look at some very detailed maps (well, as far as maps of large geological features go, anyway). As it turns out, as far as I can tell, I had, in fact, been there, once (or maybe several times within a few days), about twenty years ago in eastern Eilat (less than a mile from the Jordanian border).

    That said, the system I used in my “purely geographical” comment is not, in fact, based on continental plates – it’s based on a concept known as prominence lineage cells.
    It’s surprisingly nice for Europe (aside from Asian Scandinavia), but the rest sucks, since consistently applying this method results in the following list of non-European continents (quoted from a 2015 comment, not by me):
    “Alaska (the southwestern third of Alaska), Yukon (everything else west of a line along the Fraser, Peace, and Mackenzie Rivers), North America (everything else north of Nicaragua), Magdalena (a small piece of northern Colombia), South America (everything else south of Nicaragua), Africa, Antarctica, the Middle East (eastern boundary surprisingly well approximated by the eastern border of Iran), and Asia.”
    (This list really should also include Hawaii, and a few other places, but there isn’t enough good dry prominence data to say it more certainly. [And one of those other places, the Emperor Seamounts, is entirely underwater.] And Magdalena is probably better named Santa Marta. And for the record, yes, Scandinavia does end up in the part named Asia.)
    I’d say that, however geographically sensible, a system that has a continent made of the southwestern third of Alaska is nearly as silly as a system that places one half of Iceland on a different continent from the other.

    EDIT: incidentally (and unrelatedly, except to the general topic), I just asked my mother what she would consider to be Central Europe.
    “Well, obviously,” she said, “everything that’s not Northern, Southern, Eastern, or Western.”
    “But what that would be specifically?” I asked. Her answer (after some thought)? Austro-Hungarian Empire.
    I personally would exclude some marginal eastern areas (now in Ukraine) and maybe some southern areas (the places that ended up in Yugoslavia), but other than that, it fits almost perfectly.
    (Okay, maybe it’s just a nice way to say “Czechoslovakia, Austria and Hungary”.)

  59. I doubt many (Western) EU residents would count Byelorussia, Ukraine, Russia proper as European at all.

    I got into a low key argument with a Ukrainian once in Kiev in the late 1990s. He was asserting that the name Ukraine (which literally means “borderland”) was nasty Russian propaganda, since “obviously” Ukraine was the center of Europe. I allowed that he could make a geographical case for that, given that the Urals are indeed several thousand kilometers east of Kiev, but surely culturally that was a bit of a stretch? He said no,no, he meant that Ukraine was both the geographic and cultural heart of everything “European”. I told him that most Americans probably regard Paris as the cultural heart of Europe, and arguably geographic as well, since once you cross the Rhine you only have a few hundred kilometers left until “here dwell monsters” territory (again this was the ’90s). He didn’t appreciate that point of view.

  60. (Okay, maybe it’s just a nice way to say “Czechoslovakia, Austria and Hungary”.)

    What, no Poland?

    Slovenia clearly was Central Europe prior to 1918, then got dragged into Yugoslavia and became Southeastern Europe, but I think it has rejoined “Central” status.

  61. Greece would constitute a very small State if it were part of the USA.

    Not at all. Relatively to the area and population of the EU, Greece would be the 7th largest (out of 50 states) by area and the 15th largest by population if it were part of the U.S. By chance, it would be just behind Arizona in both cases.

    (Personally I’d be happy to make the swap. Greece would give the U.S. the home of democracy, a window on the Mediterranean, and a visa-free tourist destination, whereas the U.S. would give Greece a stable banking regime, a stable currency, and a continuing transfer of income from the federal government to the new state. As for Arizona, Mexico can have it back, Gadsden Purchase, Joe Arpaio and all. I’ll take mountains over deserts any day.)

  62. Rodger C says:

    Tomáš Masaryk defined Central Europe as “a special zone extending from the North Cape to Cape Matapan”, and about one country wide. As many people have commented, that certainly is a zone, not a region at all.

  63. J.W. Brewer says:

    FWIW, here’s a graph of the shifting incidence over time of “Central Europe” and “Eastern Europe” in the google books corpus. https://tinyurl.com/hheh3wj

    It seems to me that if “Central Europe” is to be a useful concept, it is because of the multiplicity of plausible east-west divisions noted above. The “Central” bit is that situated east of one particularly salient division but west of another particularly salient division, with details as to exactly which two divisions are the most salient for this purpose to be delegated to some subcommittee to work out.

  64. FWIW, here’s a graph of the shifting incidence over time of “Central Europe” and “Eastern Europe” in the google books corpus.

    Very interesting; “Eastern Europe” takes off (and “Central Europe” declines) right at WWII.

  65. I remember once in Athens airport overhearing two archetypally American middle-aged couples talking, when one asked another “Have you ever visited Europe before?” I was very struck by the “Europe” as opposed to “Greece.”

    Why? Those are two different questions. It is perfectly natural and unexceptionable for Americans to think in terms of “going to Europe” as an adventure, something one might or might not get a chance to do. Being American differs in many respects from being European, and a tendency to think of “Europe” as a thing (rather than a disputed category) is one of them.

  66. J.W. Brewer says:

    Re David Eddyshaw’s point re Bulgaria’s mixed record: First, one should hopefully not be *that* surprised that the Communist regime in Bulgaria behaved worse than its non-Communist predecessor. Second, one relevant difference is that although afaik there was not much of a meaningful irredentist movement in post-Ottoman Turkey hoping to revise the borders deeper into Europe, if you are right next to Turkey a minority population with an ethnic and/or religious connection to that historically difficult neighbor (and former overlord) poses a different sort of potential threat (which you thus might be tempted to respond to with heavy-handed and illiberal tactics such as forced assimilation) than does your Jewish minority. Unless of course you behave so badly toward the latter that they are motivated to yearn for a return to the more cosmopolitan era of Ottoman rule …

  67. Trond Engen says:

    On the importance of physical geography:

    Tanker ved Ånestadkrysset
    Rolf Jacobsen (1907-1994)

    Skogguden Pan, han med fløytespillet i trærne,
    finner vi ham på Hedemarken? Tror ikke det.
    Prøv lenger øst.

    Bortafor Ånestadkrysset, der langskogene tar til.
    Gjennom Elverum og Trysil helt til Botniska viken
    kan du høre sangen i trekronene, lyden
    med eventyr i.

    For ved Ånestadkrysset i Løten begynner taigaen.
    (Visste du det?) Det euro-asiatiske barskog-beltet,
    jordklodens grønne skjerf rundt halsen.
    Som ikke ender før i Stillehavets bølger,
    ved Vladivostok.

    Tenk over det, neste gang du ser elgskiltene,
    at nå er det treskygge, skogsfugl og maur halve
    jordkloden rundt. Pans rike. Vårsøget i trekronene.
    Lengselsfullt, ofte hissende. Det drar i deg.

    Men her ved Mjøsa, i lyset fra innlandsfjorden
    har vi en annen trollmann. Fargenes Maestro.
    Han med paletten og tubene. Og nå ved påsketider, når
    dette skrives, står han klar til å klemme dem ut.
    For vår og sommer. For det store fargeskiftet
    over bygd og bakker.

    Etter snehvitt bruker han grått og svart. Så lysegrønt
    og slag i slag: Mørkegrønt og gult og gyllen silke.
    Ingensteder i landet ses det så mektig som her, rundt
    innlandshavet med det store lyset.

    Så vi trives her. Selv uten Pan. Men det er ikke langt
    til Ånestadkrysset heller. Fra farger til musikk.
    Fra penselsstrøk til fløytespill i baret.
    Men pass deg for elg.

    And in my translation:

    Thoughts by the Ånestad Crossroads
    Rolf Jacobsen (1907-1994)

    The forest god Pan, the one playing his flute in the trees,
    do we find him in Hedemarken? I don’t think so.
    Try further east.

    Beyond the Ånestad Crossroads, where the wide forests begin.
    Through Elverum and Trysil all the way to the Bothnian Bay
    you can hear the song in the canopy, the sound
    with adventures in it.

    Behind the Ånestad crossroads in Løten lays the taiga.
    (did you know that?) The Euro-Asiatic conifer belt,
    the green scarf around the planet’s neck.
    Without end until it sets in the Pacific waves
    By Vladivostok.

    Remember that, the next time you see the elk roadsigns,
    from now on there’s the shade of trees, the black grouse and ants halfway
    around the globe. The kingdom of Pan. The spring rustle in the canopy.
    Yearning, often arousing. It’s pulling you.

    But here by the Mjøsa, in the light from the inland fjord
    we have another wizard. The Maestro of colors.
    Him with the pallet and the tubes. And now around easter, when these
    lines are written, he is ready to squeeze them all out.
    For spring and summer. For the big colour shift
    over houses and hills.

    From snow white he turns to grey and black. Then light green
    and one by one: Dark green and yellow and golden silk.
    Nowhere in the land is it as powerful as here, around
    the inland sea with the great light.

    So we’re happy here. Even Without Pan. But it’s not far
    to the Ånestad Crossroads either. From colour to music.
    From brushstrokes to flutes playing in the sprigs.
    But watch out for elks.

  68. For North American readers, change both “elk” and “elks” to “moose”. Of course there’s taiga in North America too, in effect the same one though with different species locally: the taiga as a whole is the largest land biome on the planet.

  69. Rodger C says:

    Are those supposed to be loose Sapphics?

  70. “As for Arizona, Mexico can have it back, Gadsden Purchase, Joe Arpaio and all. I’ll take mountains over deserts any day.”

    — What? Have you been to Arizona? It has mountains. Once you get high enough up, it looks like Canada. It has steppe, in the north. It is amazingly diverse. I say this as a traveller, but if I lived in Arizona, I wouldn’t have to “take mountains over deserts.” They’re both there.

  71. Trond Engen says:

    or North American readers, change both “elk” and “elks” to “moose”.

    Yeah, I weighed back and forth on that. Also the pliural of “elks”.

    Are those supposed to be loose Sapphics?

    Dunno. It didn’t occur to me that there could be a fornal off-metre. I just aimed for the voice: the feel of the rhythmic flow, the simple words, and the the occassional assonance.

  72. Can’t resist remembering Yuri Vizbor’s “Markscheider” with its closing line, “Eastern Europe, I am your son! Please take me back home!”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1L6PemEV4M

    BTW January-First-Of-May, did you see my question about surnames in the Korean thread?

  73. Very nice translation! One more quibble:

    Him with the pallet and the tubes.

    Change to “palette.”

  74. January First-of-May says:

    BTW January-First-Of-May, did you see my question about surnames in the Korean thread?

    I think I did – wanted to answer it but forgot.
    Thanks for reminding me!

  75. Anent Arizona and Greece, the best most civil dogs I’ve met are in both places, Navajo dogs and Greek dogs. Very alike with their own order and wisdom. These are not ‘owned’ dogs, but they know how to live with humans. We have a common civilization of more than one species.

    I honor the Navajo and the Greeks for knowing how dogs work, and not forcing them into yappy insanity.

  76. Yeah, that’s true, I wouldn’t want to lose the Navajo Nation. And no, I haven’t been to Arizona. Okay, we keep Arizona and make Greece the 51st state. Of course, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and NYC will all be outraged, because they thought they had a lock on that number. (They are wrong, anyway.

    If we ever get one, a 51-state flag is going to suck visually. The 48-state flag was 6 x 8, and the 50-state flag is “six, five, six, five, six, five, six, five, and six”, but 3 x 17 would be grotesque, and a ragged set of stars would be “nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight”, which is not horizontally symmetrical.

  77. Trond Engen says:

    Change to “palette.”

    Thanks, I wondered about that too. I landed on “pallet” for the trochee and the unpretentious feel, but palett in Norwegian is probably no less pretentious. Or less throchaic for that matter.*

    You never finish with these things. I now think I prefer “more powerful than here” to “as powerful as here”: It’s closer in meaning to the original and I no longer remember why I didn’t like it.

    Also, there’s a few orthographic errors. Capital D in “Did you know that?” Small b in “by Vladivostok.”.Capital E in “Easter”, I suppose. Small w in “without” (after I added “even”, another close call).

    *) Well, that’s a matter of dialect and register. It’s very much trochaic in the dialect of the area where the poem is physically set, but not of the reading as I imagine it.

  78. David Marjanović says:

    Throughout the second half of the 20th century, there was a little-known ideology around the term “Central Europe” (Mitteleuropa; also Donauraum, “Danube space” literally). It amounted to nostalgia of conservative intellectuals for some aspects of Austria-Hungary with a few delusions about Austria having, or potentially having, some kind of important bridge function. It evaporated, together with the “scientific institute” prestige projects it had spawned, soon after the Iron Curtain was gone.

    a stable currency

    The € is stable – too stable for Greece, according to those who think Greece would do better if it could devalue its currency.

    (Others think that would have horrible consequences.)

    Joe Arpaio

    Lost his reelection last year. Good riddance.

    deserts

    “The desert is where God has removed everything superfluous”, says the kind of ancient Arab proverb that may only exist in German sources. Arizona is packed with Triassic wonders.

    Part of it is called the Painted Desert.

  79. Arizona has Grand Canyon BTW. The Wave. The Corkscrew (Antelope) Canyon. And, hidden in plain sight, un-glorious but nostalgically beautiful rolling hills with pines, marshes and meadows between Jacob Lake and Grand Canyon which are the most Eastern European Russian Plain backcountry-like landscape in this whole part of the world (except Navajo Mountain incongruously looms on the horizon)

  80. I admire thes spirited defenses of Arizona geography, though it would be no less lovely as part of Mexico, or as part of (Alta) California, for that matter.

    I did see the Painted Desert as a child, but scarcely remember it.

  81. Trond Engen says:

    Or less throchaic for that matter.

    “less jambic”, obviously.

  82. David Eddyshaw says:

    Re Arizona/Greece: regrettably, my bold proposal never gained much traction that, rather than simply abandoning the citizens of Hong Kong to the mercies of the PRC, the UK government could more honourably have proposed a straight swap of Hong Kong for Liverpool.

    This would have assuaged the all-too-understandable sensitivities of China regarding the regrettable excesses of Western colonialist aggression, while greatly benefiting the people of Liverpool. We could have thrown in the Beatles if the Chinese felt that the brute economics were not advantageous.

  83. Etienne says:

    Ah, racial classification…the sort of thing you jump into whenever you get bored with the “Is it a language or a dialect?” question.

    The arbitrary nature of such classifications was driven home to me when I applied for an academic position in Britain some years ago and was asked to fill out a form which INTER ALIA asked me whether I was White, South Asian, Middle Eastern, East Asian, African or West Indian (Indigenous American and Australian Aboriginal were two missing categories, I noticed): and if I was White, was I White British, Irish or Other European?

    The difficulty of such classifications is that in real life there all too often is a non-somatic component to perceptions of racial membership/boundaries -clothing, body language, accent for instance. This too was driven home to me rather forcefully when I last was in Victoria: I spent an evening with some very nice grad students, who were very politically active. The issue of aboriginal homelessness in Victoria (a real problem, sadly) came up, and after the students had framed the problem as being one of white supremacy, I pointed out that A) lower-class whites were just as victimized by this situation as are Aboriginal Canadians, and that B) inasmuch as the (utterly obscene) growth of housing prices in Victoria is driven by Chinese money, I argued that non-whites play a significant role in the growth of Aboriginal homelessness.

    My argument was not received well, with the students denying that Chinese money could be called non-white: it took me a while to get to the bottom of this (to me) bizarre way of thinking about Chinese racial identity, but what emerged was that to their minds the white/non-white dichotomy was only “real” if it corresponded to class: whites aren’t really white unless they are rich/powerful, non-whites aren’t really non-white unless they are poor/powerless. Since Chinese investors are neither poor nor powerless they therefore do not qualify as non-white. QED.

    John Cowan: I am amazed any American could suggest trading away a State with as much natural beauty as Arizona! And I quite disagree with your claim that it would be no less beautiful in some other country: One thing I greatly admire in your country is the excellent care put into Natural Parks, Historical Landmarks and the like (on that score Canada could definitely use some Americanization).

    Which brings me to make my own modest proposal about changing borders in order to improve quality of life for all:

    There used to exist a party in Canada known as the Rhinoceros Party, which, back in the days when Canada consisted of ten provinces and two territories (now we’ve three territories), suggested that the United States become Canada’s third territory. I would like to resurrect this proposal and propose that the United States be made Canada’s fourth territory, with the understanding that all American agencies/organizations now in charge of American Parks + Historical sights and monuments be given this mandate within Greater Canada.

    For Americans, the advantages are obvious: within Greater Canada you would have a great many new places to visit. Plus, as Canadian citizens you would, like the inhabitants of the three other territories, have Canadian health care, thereby improving your quality of life quite tangibly. As a plus, our current Prime Minister is a narcissist with good hair: Americans would thus have less of an adjustment to make in becoming Canadian citizens. For Canadians, our own parks and monuments would be much better administered, and we would have a territory of above-normal temperature to visit, as opposed to the three we now have whose temperature is below-normal.

    Sounds like a win-win. Can I count on your support?

  84. I landed on “pallet” for the trochee and the unpretentious feel

    “Palette” is pronounced exactly the same, even if it’s more pretentious-looking.

    I did see the Painted Desert as a child, but scarcely remember it.

    Same here (though I remember the Grand Canyon from what must have been the same trip).

  85. David Eddyshaw says:

    @Etienne:

    Excellent though the Prime Minister of Canada may be, he is surely a mere also-ran in competition with the President on both the attributes you mention. Would not any red-blooded American feel a considerable let-down on these counts?

    I agree about the ludicrous “racial” classification system on our splendid British forms. Whenever possible, I decline to complete such items, and if challenged, state (truthfully) that I lack the expertise presumably needed to classify myself in this way, to say nothing of the detailed knowledge that would be called for of both the genetic and linguistic status of my forebears. I only point out that everyone else also lacks such expertise if I am feeling particularly anarchic or scientific.

    Unfortunately the inclusion of this nonsense is invariably well-meant. It’s hard to point this out to people who genuinely feel that they’re helping. Much mischief is done by people who genuinely feel they’re helping.

  86. David Eddyshaw says:

    The “sexual orientation” questions are easier; I always tick “prefer not to say.” I hope this produces the impression that I am in fact much more interesting in this regard than I can truthfully claim to be. Unfortunately the option “other” is rarely provided. Bureaucrats are so unimaginative.

  87. SFReader says:

    -not counting the places I flew over in airplanes

    Why, why, oh, why shouldn’t it count?

    I actually fancied myself a great polar explorer, because once I flew over the North Pole on my Beijing-Washington DC flight.

    Nobile, Amundsen and SFReader….

  88. whites aren’t really white unless they are rich/powerful, non-whites aren’t really non-white unless they are poor/powerless.

    Far away in Eastern Asia, we have the Yi people, who are divided into three classes: the Black Yi, who are the nobility; the White Yi, who are the commoners; and the non-Yi slaves (now set free by the PRC government). Of course, all the groups look much the same.

    the Rhinoceros Party

    Corresponding to the Monster Raving Loony Party elsewhere: this was mostly in the UK, but also had a branch in Florida, thus making it one of the rare international political parties.

    Can I count on your support?

    Alas, I have been committed since 2004 to a merger of the blue states with Canada (neglecting the 2016 aberrations) on equal terms. This was a joint Canadian-U.S. effort; Tim Bray proposed the basic design and I followed up with some details (read his linked post first).

    If you really want a fourth territory, you might consider taking up the Turks and Caicos offer.

  89. January First-of-May says:

    Why, why, oh, why shouldn’t it count?

    Well, because of three main reasons, mostly.

    First, they’re traditionally not counted in similar lists (though those lists usually involve countries, or some similar units, in which case it does make sense).

    Second, I’m not entirely sure what exactly I flew over twenty-odd years ago (especially on that one flight to Israel that involved an overnight stay in Sofia; still the only time I’ve been to Sofia, and for seventeen years or so it was also the only time I’ve been to Bulgaria… well, on land, anyway).

    And third, as far as I could tell, in this particular case, it almost certainly doesn’t change anything anyway (neither the general list nor the “once in eastern Eilat” punchline).

    If I’ve been in an airplane over the North Pole, or the Atlantic, or anything else interesting, I might have actually counted it; but the northernmost, westernmost, and easternmost places I’ve ever been to were reached from Moscow without the use of airplanes at all (mostly by train).

  90. Trond Engen says:

    Nobile, Amundsen and SFReader…

    You beat both of them by returning.

  91. January First-of-May says:

    I still think the first person who actually made it to the North Pole was Vodopyanov (who also actually returned).

    Granted, this is mostly because for a while everyone thought that at least one of the first three or so (Cook, Peary, Byrd…) must have done it (and the enthusiasm died down a bit), and by the time people realized that maybe none of them did it was too late to matter.

  92. David Marjanović says:

    Vodopyanov

    Drunk on water?

    The Slovene surname Vodopivec is one thing… but… 🙂

  93. SFReader says:

    Drinkwater, Boileau, Bevilacqua, Popivoda, etc. Typical ironic nickname-turned-surname given to drunkards.

  94. I’m surprised that when the Navajo came up upthread, no one noted them as a counterexample to “no nations within nations in America”.

  95. Also surprised at the author’s experience that Americans had difficulty understanding the concept “Jew from Poland, but not Polish”. Considering that both Jews and descendants of (non-Jewish) Polish immigrants are common in America, and are obviously distinct. Maybe he was somewhere in the country where both Jews and Catholics are rare, or maybe somewhere like California or suburbia where distinctions between white ethnic groups have mostly disappeared.

  96. Drinkwater, Boileau, Bevilacqua, Popivoda, etc.

    From what I understand, these are old nicknames for diabetics, perhaps in families with a hereditary tendency to type II (adult-onset) diabetes. Prodigious urination, the body’s attempt to cope with the overburden of blood sugar, produces a prodigious thirst, too much to satisfy with anything more expensive than water (however hazardous).

    a counterexample to “no nations within nations in America”

    No foreign nations: as I mentioned upthread, Native and African Americans have no functional ties to outside societies. I am far closer to my foreign roots than my grandson’s father is to his.

  97. I’ve always thought that the main cultural divide in Europe is between the Mediterranean (south) and the Continental (north). In the Mediterranean area, there are many similarities in food, music, customs, lifestyle, from the Iberian peninsula in the west to the Greek and possibly Turkish areas in the East. This is so strong that some countries are split in two eg. France. It is even more noticeable where there are natural barriers lie mountains – in Croatia the south Croatian cuisine has more in common with Italy and Greece than it does with the north – which has more in common with Austria, German and Hungarian cuisine and modes of life. This of course translates to other cultural spheres like politics, with the Mediterranean Europe having a tradition of local autonomous cities connected through trade networks, while the north is more susceptible to empire and state building. There are of course exceptions eg. Hansa cities in the Baltic (north), Castillan colonial empire (south).

    But the north-south divide is of longer standing than the east-west which only really dates from 1945. Before 1945, there was, in the north, a notion of a central Europe (Mitteleuropa) dominated by the German & Austro-Hungarian Empires and their successor states, standing in opposition to the colonial western powers (England, France, Spain, Portugal) and the “oriental” Russian Empire. This was exemplified by a (frankly racist) saying in the old Habsburg Monarchy that the East began at the Vienna Train Station.

  98. David Marjanović says:

    the Vienna Train Station

    Which one? It’s only been a few years that the Main Station was built.

    There is, however, the saying that the Balkans begin at the light-rail station Rennweg a bit southeast of the city center.

  99. It’s only been a few years that the Main Station was built.
    But it stands at the railroad junction which used to house the grand railroad stations of the past, both Gloggnitzer Bahnhof (1846) which served Südbahn and Raaber Bahnhof (Ostbahn). So in a sense it was The Main Station even then, sending out trains to Cote d’Azur, the Balkans, and, yes, St. Petersburg

  100. J.W. Brewer says:

    I should think the old Ostbahnhof (variously named, moved, and rebuilt over the years), if only because that’s where you would catch a train for Budapest and the Hungarians seem the most plausible intended butt of the insult, if it were to be taken as an insult. (I assume *some* subset of romantic Hungarian nationalists might rather have relished a non-Western or “Asiatic” self-image.)

    That the fortunes of subsequent history should have left Vienna post-WW2 as part of a “Western” (however politically Finlandized) salient, with the Iron Curtain curving so that it was both north and south of the city as well as east, is perhaps simply a coincidence, but perhaps an interesting one.

  101. the East began at the Vienna Train Station

    And l’Afrique commence aux Pyrenées, as Dumas père never actually said

  102. the insult, if it were to be taken as an insult
    I thought the romantic and political dream of the Great Hungarian brethren out East was alive at least until Vámbéry failed to find any?
    In my Vienna days (1991) this neighborhood South of downtown was still considered to be “East”, but now derisively so. That’s where I went for the cheapo “Hungarian shops” (not all of them actually Hungarian-owned, but named collectively) despite the locals’ warning about fakes and frauds.

  103. Trond Engen says:

    During my three day visit to Vienna in 2014, the building site for the new train station was one of the sights I got to see. That and a new office block buing built just north of it. And Zaha Hadid’s library at the Wirtschaftsuniversität. Professional visit.

  104. Marja Erwin says:

    “Failing that Google “Seipel Lubliner” — first hit.”

    Also redirects to:

    http://faculty.ce.berkeley.edu/coby/

  105. How bizarre! My initial link is now redirecting to that page as well. What’s up, Doc?

  106. Possibly it’s a deep linking prevention strategy gone wrong. I can get to the paper by going Personal Page > Essays > sixth from the bottom.

    Luckily there’s an archive copy that doesn’t play referrer games.

  107. J.W. Brewer says:

    I find that in chrome (my usual browser) I get stuck at the front page but in firefox I get redirected to that page but can then click through per Lars’ instructions above.

  108. It’s still reachable if you click ‘Personal Page,’ then ‘Essays,’ then ‘Nationality issues’, then ‘Europe East and West: the Seipel Line’. They seem to have blocked external referrers for direct links, or ‘deep linking,’ in the relevant jargon. This blocking is often a method to reduce undesired traffic volume. The mighty force of the Languagehat readership has likely caused a big spike in traffic to faculty.ce.berkeley.edu!

  109. Chrome may be more diligent in caching the redirects, but if so it’s only doing as it’s told. Arguably the server should return a temporary (not permanent) redirect or even add a Vary-header including Referer (sic), but it doesn’t. Clearing cache and starting from the home page may bring joy.

    (I had network tracing turned on when I was able to click through, and that disables cache lookups).

  110. The Karelian people are linguistically related to the Finns, and those in the west, who by the 17th century lost their distinctive language and became Finnish-speaking, were integrated into the Finnish nation

    Ah yes, the double trepidation in reading articles like this: wondering whether we’ll get covered in any detail at all (it’s not too rare to run into treatises that seem to consider lands north of the Baltic Sea as un-European as those south of the Mediterranean, judging by complete silence on the topic) — and if yes, how much of it will be plainly wrong.

    This misconception I guess at least follows logically enough from the mismatch between “Karelia” and “Karelian”… The native language in the region of “Finnish Karelia”, prior to being mostly evacuated in WW2, was mostly made of varietes called the kaakkoismurteet ‘southwestern dialects’; they are well enough distinct from Karelian proper, spoken northeast of Finland’s traditional (1617-1940) eastern border. There clearly would’ve been less Western Finnish / Written Finnish influence in the 16th century and earlier, but there’s been no outright language shift. (Not from Karelian, at least: some have postulated a partial language shift from Ingrian, at least in the immediate vicinity of St. Petersburg.)

    (For that matter, the idea that Finnish and Karelian constitute two distinct languages at all, and not simply two endpoints of a single dialect continuum, only solidified after WW2.)

    The Saamis’ homeland, Saamiland or Lapland

    Being from 2004 may explain the awkwardish terminology, but most often I just see “Sápmi” used in English, following the Northern Sami spelling. Better not call it “Lapland”, in particular (considering how “Lapp” is generally considered derogatory). The term officially refers to the northernmost administrative areas of Sweden and Finland, whose overlap with Sápmi is far from complete in either direction.

    Finland does also have people who consider themselves “ethnically Lapps”, in a similar fledgling east-of-Seipel sense — today Finnish by language, though shifted from Sami varieties no more than 150-ish years ago, who populate woodland areas just south of the still Sami-speaking ones…

  111. I was told that Karelian language as currently spoken in Russia is actually three different languages – Karelian proper (closest to Finnish), Livvin-Karelian language and Ludic language (transitional idiom between Livvin-Karelian and Veps language).

    Speakers of Karelian proper can understand Finnish, less successfully Livvin-Karelian and Ludic is almost unintelligible.

    Karelian proper has several dialects, some of which are simply Finnish (ie, closer to literary Finnish than to Karelian proper).

  112. “Ludic” as a variety of Karelian is also a recent conception, mostly promoted by Russians (not especially successfully, since after all, there is indeed a chasm of intelligibility) on the interestingly west-Seipelian grounds that it is spoken within the Republic of Karelia. And though the traditional definition of Ludic as transitional between Karelian and Veps, that got fixed already in the 19th century, is what has usually been repeated later on, it would probably be more justified to speak of Veps as a group of southwestern innovative varieties of Ludic… The northernmost “Vepsians” even call themselves Ludes. Readers of Finnish, or perhaps readers satisfied with abstracts, may enjoy checking out Pahomov: Lyydiläiskysymys, a fresh look at the question by a native Lude.

    If we’re simply counting literary standards though, or proposed ones at least, even Karelian Proper has multiple these days; a northern version, used in the Republic of Karelia itself in distinction to Livvi and Ludic, and a southern version, used among the diaspora Karelians in the Tver Oblast. So clearly there’s been the usual national sub-division tendency at work here, too.

    Karelian proper has several dialects, some of which are (…) closer to literary Finnish than to Karelian proper

    Clearly a notable achievement.

    (You’re probably thinking again of Livvi, which features a few noticable archaisms whose closest points of comparison are not even in Eastern Finnish just across the border, but indeed in Standard Finnish.)

    Back towards the topic, in Finland too it’s similarly the older Finnic regional identities that maintain stronger signs of an ethnic identity. Speaking a minority language such as Swedish or Tatar or Vietnamese might not be an obstacle to being considered Finnish (— or might too though, if you asked the True Finns), but it most definitely rules out being considered a Tavastian, Savonian, Ostrobothnian…

  113. SFReader says:

    I sometimes think of Karelians (Orthodox Eastern ones in Russia) and Finns like a northern version of Serbs and Croats.

    Two peoples which speak same or almost same language, but profess different religions and have separate identity and history going back over a millenia.

  114. most often I just see “Sápmi” used in English, following the Northern Sami spelling.

    Thanks for that (I’ll try to remember it), and for all your well-informed comments!

  115. t most definitely rules out being considered a Tavastian, Savonian, Ostrobothnian

    Similarly, within the UK there are English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Cornish … and British ethnicities, the latter being the descendants of immigrants who don’t identify with either their home countries or any of the ethnic nationalities. (The English claim that the Cornish are English, but the Cornish don’t agree.)

  116. Interestingly, while many (perhaps most) people of immigrant background resident in England prefer to identify as British rather than English – with or without some other qualifier – Scotland seems to be more successful in persuading people of similar backgrounds to identify as Scottish.

  117. There used to be a distinct Karelian in Tver until about the WWII, written in Cyrilics, spoken by descendants of the Time of Troubles Orthodox refugees from Sweden rule, but I don’t know where they originally came from (must be some places West!) and how it reflected on their language…

  118. kaakkoismurteet ‘southwestern dialects’
    southeastern

  119. The address of Professor Lubliner’s essay has changed. It’s now http://faculty.ce.berkeley.edu/coby/essays/seipel.htm

    Professor Lubliner taught me mechanics of solids (a weeder course in both Civil and Mechanical Engineering).

  120. Thanks, I’ve swapped that for the original link in the post.

  121. Scotland seems to be more successful in persuading people of similar backgrounds to identify as Scottish.

    This is not unconnected with the SNP being a civic nationalist rather than ethnic nationalist party, defining anyone born or resident in Scotland as a (potential) Scottish citizen. It is also related to Scotland being a twa-leidit folkrick.

  122. David Marjanović says:

    civic nationalist

    I wonder if the SNP is nationalist at all. My impression is that the SNP is an attempt to keep the Tories out of here, with Scotland being a conveniently preexisting way in which “here” can be defined, seeing as keeping the Tories out of the entire UK has proven impractical.

    Scotland being a twa-leidit folkrick

    I’m sure that helps, though!

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