Having somewhat fallen into reviewing what I’m reading instead of the intended writing about why I’m reading a particular book, herewith I attempt to return to the point of all this writing about reading.
Ruth Mandel’s Cosmopolitan Anxieties: Turkish Challenges to Citizenship and Belonging in Germany I first saw mentioned on one of the best blogs around coming out of Turkey for anthropology, cyberculture, and journalism: Erkan’s Field Diary (which I’ve been reading for quite some years now). Erkan listed A few books on “Race in Europe”, and the cover of Mandel’s work at the top of the post naturally grabbed me. Actually there are three or four books on the list I imagine I’ll be reading in the coming months; excitement overload!
A couple of years ago (almost exactly three, it turns out) I read Katherine Pratt Ewing’s Stolen Honor: Stigmatizing Muslim Men in Berlin, which was nearly one of my Books of the Year (looking back, I’m surprised I thought that year’s non-fiction work, Eating Animals was the one, mainly because since then I try to acknowledge works that are less popular, viz. Debt, which is essential reading, and All Roads are Open, which is for a fairly specific audience). Seeing it was three years ago, it’s noteworthy how much I think about that work, and how it’s helped me understand the problems Berlin, Germany, and Europe have with understanding themselves as discrete and clearly delineated, and how this in turn causes the situation these places (and ideas of what the places represent) have in regard to the Other, particularly when that Other happens to be that monolithic unity, the Turk.
So I ordered Cosmopolitan Anxieties just before I left for Antwerpen, and picked it up yesterday. It’s a nice, proper-sized academic tome, a lot of pages set in a smallish typeface – which is to say, it’s both visually and intellectually dense. I’m part-way through the introduction and already very close to being my Book of the Year. Many pages yet to go, of course.