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When Ballet Became French
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When Ballet Became French: Modern Ballet and the Cultural Politics of France, 1909-1939, by Ilyana Karthas (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015).

For centuries before the 1789 revolution, ballet was a source of great cultural pride for France, but by the twentieth century the art form had deteriorated along with France’s international standing. It was not until Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes found success in Paris during the first decade of the new century that France embraced the opportunity to restore ballet to its former glory and transform it into a hallmark of the nation.

In When Ballet Became French, Ilyana Karthas explores the revitalization of ballet and its crucial significance to French culture during a period of momentous transnational cultural exchange and shifting attitudes towards gender and the body. Uniting the disciplines of cultural history, gender and women’s studies, aesthetics, and dance history, Karthas examines the ways in which discussions of ballet intersect with French concerns about the nation, modernity, and gender identities, demonstrating how ballet served as an important tool for France’s project of national renewal. Relating ballet commentary to themes of transnationalism, nationalism, aesthetics, gender, and body politics, she examines the process by which critics, artists, and intellectuals turned ballet back into a symbol of French culture.

The first book to study the correlation between ballet and French nationalism, When Ballet Became French demonstrates how dance can transform a nation’s cultural and political history.

The Conflict in Ukraine
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The Conflict in Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Serhy Yekelchyk (Oxford University Press, 2015).

When guns began firing again in Europe, why was it Ukraine that became the battlefield? Conventional wisdom dictates that Ukraine’s current crisis can be traced to the linguistic differences and divided political loyalties that have long fractured the country. However this theory only obscures the true significance of Ukraine’s recent civic revolution and the conflict’s crucial international dimension. The 2013-14 Ukrainian revolution presented authoritarian powers in Russia with both a democratic and a geopolitical challenge. President Vladimir Putin reacted aggressively by annexing the Crimea and sponsoring the war in eastern Ukraine; and Russia’s actions subsequently prompted Western sanctions and growing international tensions reminiscent of the Cold War. Though the media portrays the situation as an ethnic conflict, an internal Ukrainian affair, it is in reality reflective of a global discord, stemming from differing views on state power, civil society, and democracy.

The Conflict in Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know explores Ukraine’s contemporary conflict and complicated history of ethnic identity, and it does do so by weaving questions of the country’s fraught relations with its former imperial master, Russia, throughout the narrative. In denying Ukraine’s existence as a separate nation, Putin has adopted a stance similar to that of the last Russian tsars, who banned the Ukrainian language in print and on stage. Ukraine emerged as a nation-state as a result of the imperial collapse in 1917, but it was subsequently absorbed into the USSR. When the former Soviet republics became independent states in 1991, the Ukrainian authorities sought to assert their country’s national distinctiveness, but they failed to reform the economy or eradicate corruption. As Serhy Yekelchyk explains, for the last 150 years recognition of Ukraine as a separate nation has been a litmus test of Russian democracy, and the Russian threat to Ukraine will remain in place for as long as the Putinist regime is in power. In this concise and penetrating book, Yekelchyk describes the current crisis in Ukraine, the country’s ethnic composition, and the Ukrainian national identity. He takes readers through the history of Ukraine’s emergence as a sovereign nation, the after-effects of communism, the Orange Revolution, the EuroMaidan, the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, the war in the Donbas, and the West’s attempts at peace making. The Conflict in Ukraineis essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the forces that have shaped contemporary politics in this increasingly important part of Europe.

What Everyone Needs to Know® is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press.

Protest in Hitler’s “National Community”
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Protest in Hitler’s “National Community”: Popular Unrest and the Nazi Response, edited by Nathan Stoltzfus and Birgit Maier-Katkin (Berghahn Books, 2015).

That Hitler’s Gestapo harshly suppressed any signs of opposition inside the Third Reich is a common misconception. This book presents studies of public dissent that prove this was not always the case. It examines circumstances under which “racial” Germans were motivated to protest, as well as the conditions determining the regime’s response. Workers, women, and religious groups all convinced the Nazis to appease rather than repress “racial” Germans. Expressions of discontent actually increased during the war, and Hitler remained willing to compromise in governing the German Volk as long as he thought the Reich could salvage victory.

Le concept de diversité en droit de l’Union européenne
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Le concept de diversité en droit de l’Union européenne, sous la direction de Philippe Icard et Juliette Olivier Leprince (Bruylant, 2015).

Cet ouvrage se propose d’examiner comment le droit peut participer à cette construction d’un consensus combinant à la fois toute cette diversité sans compromettre l’unité et l’originalité européenne.

Women drinking out in Britain since the early twentieth century
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Women drinking out in Britain since the early twentieth century, by David W. Gutzke (Manchester University Press, 2015).

Given recent media coverage of women’s drinking habits, it is surprising that a topic of such interest has not produced a comprehensive examination. This book provides not just a survey spanning a century of momentous change, but integrates diverse sources with concepts to offer a new understanding of the changing nature of women’s drinking patterns. It challenges traditional assumptions and offers original interpretations about the diverse factors influencing women’s consumption of alcohol, including advertising, moral panics, sexism, legislative initiatives, employment, age, ethnicity, technology, new drinking venues and marketing strategies.

What most influenced how women transformed their consumption of alcohol? What beverages did they drink? To what extent did women themselves act as agents of change? These and other questions serve as the basis for analysing women’s drinking patterns from a social and cultural perspective. Close attention is also paid to the image of drinking projected in advertising, the mass media and films.

Agents of Empire
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Agents of Empire: Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean World, by Noel Malcolm (Oxford University Press, 2015).

In the late sixteenth century, a prominent Albanian named Antonio Bruni composed a revealing document about his home country. Historian Sir Noel Malcolm takes this document as a point of departure to explore the lives of the entire Bruni family, whose members included an archbishop of the Balkans, the captain of the papal flagship at the Battle of Lepanto–at which the Ottomans were turned back in the Eastern Mediterranean–in 1571, and a highly placed interpreter in Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire that fell to the Turks in 1453. The taking of Constantinople had profoundly altered the map of the Mediterranean. By the time of Bruni’s document, Albania, largely a Venetian province from 1405 onward, had been absorbed into the Ottoman Empire. Even under the Ottomans, however, this was a world marked by the ferment of the Italian Renaissance.

In Agents of Empire, Malcolm uses the collective biography of the Brunis to paint a fascinating and intimate picture of Albania at a moment when it represented the frontier between empires, cultures, and religions. The lives of the polylingual, cosmopolitan Brunis shed new light on the interrelations between the Ottoman and Christian worlds, characterized by both conflict and complex interdependence. The result of years of archival detective work, Agents of Empire brings to life a vibrant moment in European and Ottoman history, challenging our assumptions about their supposed differences. Malcolm’s book guides us through the exchanges between East and West, Venetians and the Ottomans, and tells a story of worlds colliding with and transforming one another.

Down and Out in Los Angeles and Berlin
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Down and Out in Los Angeles and Berlin: The Sociospatial Exclusion of Homeless People, by Jürgen von Mahs (Temple University Press, 2015).

Los Angeles, California, and Berlin, Germany, have been dubbed “homeless capitals” for having the largest homeless populations of their respective countries. In Down and Out in Los Angeles and Berlin, Jürgen von Mahs provides an illuminating comparative analysis of the impact of social welfare policy on homelessness in these cities. He addresses the opportunity of people to overcome—or “exit”—homelessness and shows why Berlin, despite its considerable social and economic investment for assisting its homeless, has been almost as unsuccessful as Los Angeles.

Drawing on fascinating ethnographic insights, von Mahs shows how homeless people in both cities face sociospatial exclusion-legal displacement for criminal activities, poor shelters in impoverished neighborhoods, as well as market barriers that restrict reintegration. Providing a necessary wake-up call, Down and Out in Los Angeles and Berlin addresses the critical public policy issues that can produce effective services to improve homeless people’s chances to end their homelessness once and for all.

From the chanson française to the canzone d’autore in the 1960s and 1970s
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From the chanson française to the canzone d’autore in the 1960s and 1970s, by Rachel Haworth (Ashgate, 2015).

The similarities between the chanson française and the canzone d’autore have been often noted but never fully explored. Both genres are national forms which involve the figure of the singer-songwriter, both experienced their golden age of production in the post-World War II period and both are enduringly popular, still accounting for a large proportion of record sales in their respective countries. Rachel Haworth looks beyond these superficial similarities, and investigates the nature of the relationship between the two genres.

Taking a multidisciplinary approach, encompassing textual analysis of song lyrics, cultural history and popular music studies, Haworth considers the different ways in which French and Italian song is thought about, written about and constructed. Through an in-depth study of the discourse surrounding chanson and the canzone d’autore, the volume analyses the development of the genres’ rules and rhetoric, identifying the key themes of Authority, Authenticity and Influence. The book finally considers the legacy of major artists, looking at modern perspectives on Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, Fabrizio De André and Giorgio Gaber, ultimately affording a deeper understanding of the notions of quality and value in the context of chanson française and the canzone d’autore.

High Mobility in Europe
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High Mobility in Europe: Work and Personal Life, edited by Gil Viry and Vincent Kaufmann (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

Travelling intensively to and for work helps – but also challenges – people to find ways of balancing work and personal life. Drawing on an extensive European longitudinal study, High Mobility in Europe explores the diversity and ambivalence of mobility situations. Using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, this book outlines patterns of high mobility over the life course and analyses the intersecting implications for family and career development, place attachment and social inequality. The contributors to this volume provide an important and timely contribution to the debate about the growing importance of mobility in contemporary societies.

Citizenship in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro
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Citizenship in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro: Effects of Statehood and Identity Challenges, by Jelena Džankić (Ashgate, 2015).

What happens to the citizen when states and nations come into being? How do the different ways in which states and nations exist define relations between individuals, groups, and the government? Are all citizens equal in their rights and duties in the newly established polity?

Addressing these key questions in the contested and ethnically heterogeneous post-Yugoslav states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro, this book reinterprets the place of citizenship in the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the creation of new states in the Western Balkans. Carefully analysing the interplay between competing ethnic identities and state-building projects, the author proposes a new analytical framework for studying continuities and discontinuities of citizenship in post-partition, post-conflict states. The book maintains that citizenship regimes in challenged states are shaped not only by the immediate political contexts that generated them, but also by their historical trajectories, societal environments in which they exist, as well as the transformative powers of international and European factors.

Swann at 100
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Swann at 100, edited by Adam Watt (Brill, 2015).

This number of Marcel Proust Aujourd’hui, ‘Swann at 100/Swann à 100 ans,’ edited by Adam Watt, has its origins in a conference that took place in Exeter, UK, in December 2013 to celebrate the centenary of the publication of Du côté de chez Swann. The articles, in English and French, approach this first volume of A la recherche du temps perdu from various perspectives: there are reception studies, thematic and stylistic studies, as well as contributions to our knowledge of the cultural and intellectual history of the period and, in particular, that annus mirabilis 1913. ‘Swann at 100’ will be an important resource for all readers of the Recherche.

The European Social Model Adrift
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The European Social Model Adrift: Europe, Social Cohesion and the Economic Crisis, edited by Serena Romano and Gabriella Punziano (Ashgate, 2015).

This volume presents a new perspective for discussing the European social contract and its main challenges, bringing together single-nation and comparative studies from across Europe. Presenting both theoretical discussions and empirical case studies, it explores various aspects of social cohesion, including social protection, the labour market, social movements, healthcare, social inequalities and poverty. With particular attention to the effects of the international economic and financial crisis on social cohesion, particularly in the light of the implementation of so-called ‘austerity measures’, authors engage with questions surrounding the possible fragmentation of the European model of social cohesion and the transformation of forms of social protection, asking whether social cohesion continues to represent – if it ever did – a common feature of European countries.

Breaking new ground in understanding the future of Social Europe and its main dynamics of change, The European Social Model Adrift will appeal to scholars of sociology, social policy and politics, with interests in social cohesion, the effects of financial crisis and the European social model.

Ireland under Austerity
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Ireland under Austerity: Neoliberal Crisis, Neoliberal Solutions, edited by Colin Coulter and Angela Nagle (Manchester University Press, 2015).

Once held up as a ‘poster child’ for untrammeled capitalist globalisation, the Irish Republic has more recently come to represent a cautionary tale for those tempted to tread the same neoliberal path. The crash in the world economy had especially grave repercussions for Ireland, and a series of austerity measures has seen the country endure what some consider the most substantial ‘adjustment’ ever experienced in a developed society during peacetime.

In this collection of essays, a range of academics, economists and political commentators delineate the reactionary course that Ireland has followed since the ignominious demise of the Celtic Tiger. They argue that the forces of neoliberalism have employed the economic crisis they caused to advance policies that are in their own narrow interests, and that the host of regressive measures imposed since the onset of global recession has fundamentally restructured Irish society.

The book provides a critical account of a society that has more often than most mapped out the pernicious cycle of boom and bust that remains an essential hallmark of contemporary capitalism.

Political Fellini
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Political Fellini: Journey to the End of Italy, by Andrea Minuz (Berghahn Books, 2015).

Federico Fellini is often considered a disengaged filmmaker, interested in self-referential dreams and grotesquerie rather than contemporary politics. This book challenges that myth by examining the filmmaker’s reception in Italy, and by exploring his films in the context of significant political debates. By conceiving Fellini’s cinema as an individual expression of the nation’s “mythical biography,” the director’s most celebrated themes and images — a nostalgia for childhood, unattainable female figures, fantasy, the circus, carnival — become symbols of Italy’s traumatic modernity and perpetual adolescence.

The Emperor’s Old Clothes
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The Emperor’s Old Clothes: Constitutional History and the Symbolic Language of the Holy Roman Empire, by Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger (Berghahn Books, 2015).

For many years, scholars struggled to write the history of the constitution and political structure of the Holy Roman Empire. This book argues that this was because the political and social order could not be understood without considering the rituals and symbols that held the Empire together. What determined the rules (and whether they were followed) depended on complex symbolic-ritual actions. By examining key moments in the political history of the Empire, the author shows that it was a vocabulary of symbols, not the actual written laws, that formed a political language indispensable in maintaining the common order.