W055
Critical perspectives on the persistence of 'culture talk' in the making of Europe

Convenors:
Mary Taylor (CUNY)
Jane Schneider (CUNY)
Chris Hann (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Chair:
Verena Stolcke
Discussant:
Levent Soysal
Stream:
Workshops
Location:
426
Start time:
28 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This workshop explores why culture persists as a central category of discussions of European integration. We will analyse the rise of a culturalist paradigm that permeates the controversies regarding EU immigration and enlargement in a Europe increasingly characterised by liberal market expansion.

Long abstract:

This workshop aims to explore why culture has emerged and persisted as a central category of discussions of European integration. As the European Union has been conflated with the notion of Europe as a civilisational entity, we will analyse the rise of a culturalist paradigm that permeates the ubiquitous controversies regarding immigration and EU enlargement in a Europe increasingly characterised by liberal market expansion. We invite anthropological interventions and case studies that elucidate what 'culture talk' (Mamdani 2004) obscures. Drawing on theoretical approaches that highlight the contingencies in the historical formation of 'Europe' as well as critiques of the mutual 'turn to culture' in both scholarship and policy, this workshop intends to address the following questions: How can we explain that cultural diversity is at once related to economic, social and political particularities that produce inequality, eg with respect to citizenship rights, as well as a tool to challenge this inequality? Why are some cultural differences seen to form a legitimate basis for 'diversity' while others are designated to form the object of "culture talk"? How can we explain such differentiation not in terms of (conflicting) cultural differences, but eg in relation to processes of European integration that shape social landscapes and experiences? In light of current slogans of 'unity in diversity' in EU-Europe, can we discuss diversity without at the same time reinscribing 'culture talk'? Does the concept of mutuality offer the possibility of a non-culturalist paradigm of analysis - and politics - that would nevertheless be sensitive to diversity?