Accepted paper:

The culturalisation of Europe: cultural practices and the position of culture in south-eastern Europe

Authors:

Christos Karagiannidis

Paper short abstract:

In a changing Europe the role of culture and cultural awareness gains immense importance. The presentation poses the question of culture in shifting people's identities and presents people's perceptions in approaching disputing issues in the manner of sharing and understanding.

Paper long abstract:

South Eastern Europe, historically known as the Balkans, has been under question if the region belongs to Europe or not. Historians negotiate that Balkans is the border between East and West; some of them argue that this region is 'exterior' to European values, mentalities and practices. Nowadays, the European Union and other international organisations enthusiastically say that this place is 'Europe'. As a result, there are lots of initiatives so all the states of the area to join the European Union. The paper poses the question of the role of culture in shifting people's identities and presents the flexibility of people's perceptions in approaching disputing issues in the manner of sharing and understanding. Primarily this paper is based on my field research in the region of Ohrid (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), as well as it provides critical inputs and shows the mobility of people who take part in cultural festivities. People from SEE, through cultural performances, go beyond national rhetorics and they find ways to demystify prejudices and stereotypes by bridging gaps and differences. In a changing Europe the role of culture and cultural awareness gains immense importance not only for individuals but also for international organisations and policies, that declare: in the 'new Europe' there is the need of knowing our 'partners'. The Council of Europe, through diverse festivities, in cooperation with countries that belong to European Union and third countries, finds initiatives to promote a wider notion of the European continent by knowing the distant 'Other'. Local and international NGO's shows how dynamic the domain of culture is, and from a plethora of actions, they propose and produce a network of people, by organising summer schools, conferences, seminars and workshops. The purpose of the presentation is to highlight that in a Europe without borders local people find initiatives to promote their "uniquenesses", their identities, to preserve and to share social-cultural practices and throughout the whole processes to question themselves in the new European context. Does this defense on cultural practices concern only the new (and potential) member states of the European Union? Is Europe only the European Union? How dynamic the role of Europe and the European identity is? Is it a reality the fact that Europe has no borders or it is another 'imagination'?

panel W074
Neither here nor there: locating and identifying Europe