Neighbors or Strangers? Binational and Transnational Identities in Strasbourg
Two modes of consciousness influence the current identities of Strasburgers. During the period when a French and then a German nation-state impinged on this frontier region of Alsace, there existed a binationalism. That is, the Strasburgers, whose “Double Culture” identity partakes of both Germanic and French strains, mostly remained where they were while different official and nationally-exclusive cultures, either from Paris or Berlin, washed over them. Since 1945, however, “The Construction of Europe” seems largely to have laid to rest Franco-German rivalry over Strasbourg, and the Strasburgers' old binationalism is fading. At the same time, since 1945 but especially since 1962, the closing of the French colonial era has seen the settling in of large numbers of persons of color, followed by a considerable influx of Turkish citizens. Strasbourg now has, as do other major French cities, a significant “visible minority” population of people who draw their identities both from their Frenchness and from their lands of provenance. Thereby a whole set of novel Double Cultures is being engendered, in which Islam can be a high-profile component. With the shift from the earlier binationalism toward the newer transnationalism, a complex cultural uncertainty is making it difficult for Strasburgers to decide just what comprises their identity now.