Nationalism without borders

Contradictory politics at a transborder European media organization

by DAMIEN STANKIEWICZ

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The French-German and European television channel Arte was founded with a mandate to produce media that will encourage “the coming together of European peoples.” Yet, although the channel is ostensibly charged with promulgating a cosmopolitan, transborder Europe, daily life at Arte is saturated with national talk and stereotyping. This stereotyping, though understood by staff to be tongue-in-cheek and “ironic,” functions as a kind of “sticky mechanism” through which nationalism and cosmopolitanism are rendered compound and mutualistic. Scalar analyses and metaphors, which presume a tension between nation and world, are insufficient for understanding how political-ideological commitments—whether institutional or individual—are today being depolarized and (re)combined.

The headquarters of the French-German Arte television channel in Strasbourg. In the distance, to the right, is the European Parliament building.
The headquarters of the French-German Arte television channel in Strasbourg. In the distance, to the right, is the European Parliament building.