Them and Us
About the BookAt the dawn of the twenty-first century, all of us consider ourselves to be citizens of something-–but of what? Nation-states? Regions? Ethnic groups? Corporations?
An accomplished set of meditations by one of Europe's leading Americanists, Them and Us is a rich comparative study of European and American cultural traditions and their influence on conceptions of community. In contrast with the ethnic and nationalist allegiances that historically have splintered Europe, Rob Kroes identifies a complex of cultural practices that have mitigated against ethnically rooted divisions in the United States. He argues that the American approach–-articulated by a national rhetoric emphasizing openness rather than closure, diversity rather than uniformity--has much to offer a Europe where the nationalist and ethnic conflicts that spawned two world wars continue to sow terror and destruction.
Kroes discusses European and American attitudes toward the welfare state, the human rights tradition in the United States, and the role of regionalism in shaping conceptions of national identity. He also considers new, transnational forms of cultural membership that are emerging to take the place of nation-based citizenship. He contends that the frame of reference Europeans now use to make sense of their collective situation draws on ingredients provided by the worldwide dissemination of American mass culture. He investigates the way this emerging world culture, under American auspices, affects the way people in their local and national settings structure their sense of the past and conceive of their citizenship.
Imagining a new set of cultural relationships that could serve as the basis for global citizenship, Them and Us is an insightful consideration of the types of solidarity that might weave humankind together into a meaningful community.
Reviews"In this two-hundred-page book of essays Rob Kroes, one of the most respected representatives of American studies in Europe, offers his reflections on just about everything connecting the two continents these days: human rights, cyberspace, nativism, the meaning of family photographs, Alexis de Tocqueville, the decline of the welfare state, and much more." -- Dorothee Schneider, Journal of American History
"Right on target, an invaluable guide to a culturally interconnected world." -- Richard H. Collin, International History Review.
"One of [Kroes's] central questions is how culture and politics act to create and sustain collective identities in the context of the break-up of the Soviet Union and the formation of the European Union. If you need to ask what this has to do with American studies -- the dialetic between unity and diversity -- you also need the book because it raises the discussion to a higher level." -- Bernard Mergen, American Studies International