Sunday, June 4, 2017

Richard Ivan Jobs's "Backpack Ambassadors"

Richard Ivan Jobs is professor of history at Pacific University in Oregon. He is the author of Riding the New Wave: Youth and the Rejuvenation of France after the Second World War and coeditor of Transnational Histories of Youth in the Twentieth Century.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Backpack Ambassadors: How Youth Travel Integrated Europe, and reported the following:
Opening my book to page 99, I find myself at the beginning of my third chapter, “Youth Movements.” This chapter traces the mobility of young people participating in the various protests of 1968--Paris, London, Berlin, Prague, Amsterdam, and places in between--and emphasizes how young people had become a viable transnational social body that crossed borders willingly to pursue their social, cultural, and political interests. Some familiar figures make an appearance on page 99, such as Che Guevara, Rudi Dutschke, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, and Tariq Ali, but more generally I incorporate the voices and experiences of the non-famous, the everyday young folks who were moving in between sites of protest as a confluence of their international politics and travel.

Backpack Ambassadors as a whole is a history of backpacking in Europe from the end of the Second World War to the end of the Cold War, roughly 1945 to 1992. The postwar mass international tourism of youth hosteling, hitchhiking, and rail passes had stimulated an entirely new form of travel and my book traces that history in a variety of forms, the 1968 political protests among them. This new youth travel, in turn, helped to socially and culturally integrate Europe. Thus, I offer a bottom-up story of European integration that decenters the top-down integration of the European Union. From the beaches of Spain to the coffeeshops of Amsterdam, from hitchhiking in Sweden to hosteling in Germany, the practice of backpacking evolved into the form we know it today.
Visit Richard Ivan Jobs's website and learn more about Backpack Ambassadors at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue