Russian dolls or scale skippers? Two generations in Strasbourg

John Western

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Over the past quarter-century academic geographers have interrogated the concept of σcale." It had previously been conceived as an unproblematic and mechanical item in geographical representation, a device for moving "up" from the finely detailed to the general. Regular, commonsensical steps were supposed to move one from the corporeal scale to the global scale, each scale nested into the next higher. Such is the "Russian-dolls" mode, whereby an individual considering his or her geographical identity-as in this study-would proceed hierarchically in scale from self, to city, to region, to nation, to continent. Ethnographic evidence from Strasbourg, France, however, reveals another mode: "scale skipping." Here an individual, musing upon her or his identity, can plausibly make the leap from the individual to the supranational scale in one sentence. Instructive examples of both modes are furnished from two fifteen-strong groups of Strasburgers, selected for their presumed attachment to the supranational-scale ideal of "Europe." The older group comprises professional Eurocrats; the younger group, college students returning to complete their studies in Strasbourg after attending universities elsewhere in the European Union through the Erasmus Program of study abroad.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-550
Number of pages19
JournalGeographical Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Alsace
  • Europe
  • France
  • Identity
  • Scale
  • Strasbourg

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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