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The Dynamics of Regional Identity in a Frontier Region: The Case of Alsace

Lyndhurst Collins


Strong feelings of regional identity are an integral part of the psyche among the inhabitants of Alsace, a region of France bordering on Switzerland and Germany. Alsatians also have an intense loyalty to France whose citizens probably have a stronger feeling of national identity than those in most other European countries. La dualité Alsacienne can be explained only through an understanding of Alsace's turbulent history and of its geographical position as a frontier region or province situated at the core of Europe. The peripheral location of the province with respect to the rest of France has forged, through its history and geography, the development of a set of distinctive "particularisms" that distinguishes Alsace as a separate culture area. The physical milieu of Alsace has enabled the development of high quality viticulture which of all agricultural activities lends itself most to the development and preservation of distinct cultural landscapes. Alsace's quality viticulture has led to the development of mass tourism that is being used to project the strong feelings of Alsatian regional identity beyond the boundaries of the region. Finally, the preservation of regional identity in Alsace is considered in the context of changing circumstances involving significant transboundary cooperation in the new peaceful Europe of the Regions. Within this, Alsace is now located at the very core of Europe's golden triangle.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229