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Negotiating Identities: States and Immigrants in France and Germany
By Riva Kastoryano
Princeton University Press, 2002, 248 pp.
Kastoryano's fascinating book dissects the relationship between the nation and its immigrants, looking specifically at France and Germany. France's long tradition of linking nationality to territory has fostered a policy of "assimilation" of its foreign-born. Naturalization is therefore easy, but difficulties arise when immigrants want to preserve their own cultural communities. In contrast, Germany's ethnic conception of nationality has set up a significant hurdle for those permanently resident foreigners seeking citizenship. For both countries, Kastoryano shows how representatives of the state and immigrants have negotiated their relationship, and how foreigners' associations have been (at least partly) creations of the states, which use these groups as interlocutors. Both sides have benefited from this process. The states obtain some social peace; the immigrants obtain improved rights. The great merit of this thoughtful and intelligent volume is that it shows how the "politicization of identities" has led to demand for "collective identities" among foreigners. But this approach has also limited citizenship to "a right of civic participation" in the French case, and reduced the role of ethnic identity in the German case. Kastoryano wisely concludes that "it is still the states that will ultimately negotiate the limits of recognition of differences and, as a result, the identities that can be expressed."
Source URL: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/capsule-review/2002-05-01/negotiating-identities-states-and-immigrants-france-and-germany