EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W011)

The imagined Europe under siege

Location JHT7
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Alexandra Schwell (Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt/Celovec) email
Anna Horolets (University of Gdańsk) email
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Long Abstract

The concept of Europe has always been most concise where it was not defined in contrast to something else. After the end of the Cold War the clear-cut antagonism of East (evil) and West (good) has outlived its usefulness and has been replaced by a number of diffuse threats, all of which target the micro-security of individual citizens, and a diffuse and ubiquitous insecurity that encompasses every part of social life. Immigration, organized crime, and imported terrorism as well as social, ecological and economic threats in this sense are external phenomena, and their intrusion into the community has to be prevented. The EU enlargement process and its aftermath have made the matter even more challenging. But who defines what Europe is and what it is not? How is this categorisation produced, reproduced and institutionalised? And how do the "excluded" react towards, handle and maybe even subvert this categorisation?

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Competing discourses on Europe: the divided case of Estonia

Author: Jeroen Moes (European University Institute, Florence)  email
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Long Abstract

Historical and cultural context and individual experience are likely to influence the 'imagination of Europe'. Such discourses exist according to specific social patterns that may critically divide societies into different and competing social constructions of Europe. Is there a transnational discourse on 'Europe', and if so, who exactly is part of this discourse? How are these imaginations embedded in processes of identification with (the) nation-state(s) and with Europe?

This study deals with these questions within three specific cases: Italy, the Netherlands, and Estonia. At the time of the EASA2010 conference, the first Estonian fieldwork period will be nearly finished, and this paper therefore reports on the imagination of Europe among Estonians and 'ethnically Russians'. Special attention will be paid to the use of 'Europe' within the discursive divide between these two groups, and to how this is mediated by one's social group and individual experience.

In search of the heart of Europe: on the new eastern borders of EU

Author: Justyna Straczuk (Polish Academy of Science)  email
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Long Abstract

The enlargement of European Union with it's rhetoric of cultural dialogue enhancement seemed to be a spur to development for multicultural communities in new member states. Nevertheless, many dwellers of cultural borderlands in eastern Poland perceive the activities of EU as contradictory to their own concept of "unified Europe" and regard the new eastern borders of EU as more divisive than integrating.

In this paper I would like to focus on narratives and social practices of the inhabitants of Bielsk Podlaski, a small town on Catholic-Orthodox borderland, who do not accept the vision of their region as a periphery of Europe, rather the very centre of it, a place where two great European cultural traditions, Latin and Byzantine, meet. EU is considered here as an alien and intrusive institution, imposing unnecessary borders, orietalising and excluding the nearest neighbours and cutting them off from the second half of "their" Europe.

Europe and Russia: common values and uncertain future

Author: Veronica Usacheva (Russian Academy of Science)  email
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Long Abstract

Historical position of Russia at the periphery in relation to the widely defined West predetermined the domination of the European image and ideas in self-identification of Russians. Nowadays Russian intellectuals still construct their identity in comparison with "European/Western values". The European Union becomes nowadays an institutionalised version of Europe. Its enlargement has created new challenges to Russian intellectuals, who feel themselves either excluded from the "European family" or in the role of the only 'other' in the dichotomy of East and West. The paper on research in progress explores how Russian intellectuals overcome, negotiate, interpret, compensate and subvert this "exclusion"; define their concept of what it means to be a European etc. I limited my research to materials of Internet forums' discussions at the sites of mass media (e.g. BBC Russian Service, Vedomosti - Russian newspaper, published jointly with the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times; Russian Newsweek, etc).

Crisis and imagination: the power of narrative moments

Authors: Donatella Schmidt (Università di Padova)  email
Giovanna Palutan (Università degli Studi di Padova)  email
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Long Abstract

For decades Europe has been experiencing profound transformations which fall under the rubric of contemporary globalization: new multicultural contexts that have forced the redefinition of national narratives; the substitution of hopes and the inclusion of new histories as the iron curtain was lifted across the Continent. Often overlooked, however, is that this large scale dynamism has deep repercussions on local realities often struggling not to become strange to themselves; such repercussions are particularly visible in the public sphere where conflicts are displayed and where new images of selfhood are constructed. In this context, we query whether Turner's 'social drama' is an applicable model for exploring a range of questions : are the dynamics that are upsetting local space recognizable as crises? And if so, how are they made visible? How can public narrative and performative moments help in overcoming them? How may reflecting upon the past help with imagining the future?

Roma and Sinti - The 'Other' within Europe

Author: Sabrina Kopf (University of Vienna)  email
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Long Abstract

The construction of 'Europe' functioning as a container for shared cultural and territorial claims as well as collective identities and memories constitutes a continuing and conflicting endeavour. In this context, the presence of Roma and Sinti in Europe and their historic exclusion have served various ideological and political means. Being defined as the categorical 'Other' and a counterpart to Western modernity, the exploitation of Europe's largest ethnic minority has helped to create European identities and a sense of community. Although the European Union has recognized Roma and Sinti as a 'true European minority' and implemented programs to improve the minority's situation in its member countries, EU policies continue to reproduce negative stereotypes and images of the 'Other'. By analyzing EU financed Roma projects in Slovakia, the paper examines various reasons for the ethnic group's perpetuated instrumentalisation and highlights contradictions between official EU rhetoric and the projects' realities.

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Defensive fantasies: discursive enactments of exclusion and identity in imagining Europe

Author: Jeffrey Murer (University of St. Andrews)  email
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Long Abstract

"Europe for Europeans!" but which Europe and which Europeans? Across Europe new social and political movements claim that they are "fighting back" or working to "defend" the continent and its political, social and cultural practices. This paper explores the social and linguistic practices of exclusion that delimit the populations to be protected and mark those beyond the collective self, whose very presence is a threat. The paper discusses the interview responses of nearly one thousand young people (from 2009-2010) involved in extra-parliamentary, illiberal politics, with regard to their attitudes about social institutions, societal trust, and legitimate uses of violence. This analysis offers the opportunity to compare the discourses and positions of those who would expel unwelcome social elements, with the perceptions and experiences of those marginalized subjects who are their targets, each articulating a parallel critique of materialism and the need to re-establish community in the face of neo-liberal hyper-individualism.

Finding subsidiarity: reifying competence and shame in a time of crisis

Author: Jeff Katcherian (University of California, Irvine)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper, I will examine the current complexity of the issue of subsidiarity as it pertains to the experimental means by which the European bureaucracy and members of civil society attempt to manage/negotiate "culture" and exclusion under a real and imagined crisis. Since subsidiarity is often invoked by EU bureaucrats in terms of respecting cultural differences and presently seen as a limit to what the EU could put forth as cultural policy due to the members states' prerogative over culture, my aim is to understand how that limit was understood and practiced by European bureaucratic actors. What is born out of attempts to manage subsidiarity are three discursive modes often discussed by EU bureaucrats and members of civil society: the cultural, the moral, and the temporal. I use these discursive modes to further understand the notions of competence and shame as modes of belonging and exclusion within the EU.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.