Though always hailed as bringing peace and prosperity, the process of European integration is fraught with tensions. This panel addresses the tensions caused by a resurgence of national sentiment across Europe. It focuses on the implementation of the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Heritage.
Europe's economic and political integration may have advanced substantially, recent decades also witnessed a growing fear about weakening national cultural identities. This anxiety became prominent after 2003, when UNESCO launched its Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Though the Convention celebrates such safeguarding as enhancing mutual understanding and tolerance, in practice it has revealed, encouraged or intensified a variety of political struggles, all thwarting the Convention's lofty intentions. Political ideals of peace, liberty, equality, solidarity and cosmopolitanism are now opposed by less peaceful calls for closure, hierarchy, and limits to tolerance. The Convention's present implementation may not so much arrest as advance this closure. The panel aims at a comparison of Western, Eastern and Southern Europe. We mention a few examples. Eastern Europe: papers may investigate the Convention's implementation in the Baltic countries, with its substantial Russian-speaking minorities. They may also address the issues in the Balkan countries, now coping with, for instance, the aftermath of the Balkan war, the Roma-minorities or the recent ideology of a new Great Hungary. Southern Europe: papers may study issues of regional nationalism, now intensified by the Convention (Belgium would be another candidate). Western Europe: papers may investigate the Convention's intensifying processes of closure vis-à-vis their immigrant minorities.