EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006


Neither here nor there: locating and identifying Europe

Location MVB 1.11
Date and Start Time 20 Sep, 2006 at 11:30


Julia Holdsworth (University of Hull) email
Michaela Benson (University of York) email
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Short Abstract

This panel explores the part that the interrelated notions of 'Europe' and 'local' play in movements, both physical and conceptual, across European borders.

Long Abstract

Building on recent debates about Europe and European identity, this panel brings together a range of papers focussing on movements, both physical and conceptual, to explore interrelations between local identities and imaginings of supranational, European identities. Questions about the interdependency between conceptual and physical movement arise from recent European Union expansion alongside increases in temporary and permanent migration of people within Europe. The role of imaginings of Europe within these movements requires further interrogation. Fundamentally, this panel explores the fragmentations, coalescences and tensions created through movements within and across Europe. We suggest that the different ways individuals imagine themselves to be part of a wider European community, whether the European Union or a wider notion of 'Europe', impact on the identities they perform. At times, they may draw on notions of an homogenised Europe, while at other times they stress the differences between different national or local identities. Actions and choices in issues such as migration are influenced and transformed through individual employment and articulation of these imaginings in the course of daily life. We ask questions such as: What are the consequences of accession to the European Union for people in Central and Eastern Europe and in existing member states? What role does an imagining of 'Europe' play in migration between different parts of Europe? This panel invites papers that address the intertwined notions of physical and imagined movements within Europe and, in so doing, contribute to the debate about what and where Europe is. We encourage both conceptual and ethnographic contributions that engage with a range of topics to investigate the ways agents engage with and detach from the 'Europe' of their imagining in both their physical and imagined movements.

Chair: Julia Holdsworth


Universal rights, European laws and national practices

Author: Stephan Duennwald (Centro de Estudos Africanos, ISCTE IUL, Lisbon)  email
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Long Abstract

Since the May 1, 2004 the European Union has grown from 15 to 25 memberstates. Subsequently, the external EU-border has shifted to Middle Europe. As a condition for membership the new states had to adjust their asylum- and foreigners law to western European standards. Additionally, the Geneva Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights had to be implemented.

The integration of new memberstates into the "room of liberty, security and right", according to the Amsterdam treaty, was accompanied by the change of the new states from explicit transit nations to refugees-receiving countries. This entailed an array of strong changes. Supported by the EU commission, UNHCR and single memberstates (particularly Germany and Austria), the new EU-members not only rebuilt their legal frameworks concerning asylum seekers and foreigners, but took up measurements for more efficiancy in migration control at the borders (both external and internal ones). Consequently, new bureaucracies and facilities to manage newly immigrated migrants and refugeeswere set up.

The practical implementation of measurements regarding refugees showed that the treatment of refugees and migrants tied up to the specific "national" forms of dealing with strangers. Under the impact of expectations of their western neighbours, own "traditional" patterns, EU and international legal frameworks as well as the tangible experiences with refugees each of the new memberstates of the EU develops its own model to deal with refugees and immigration.

This paper will be based on practical experience and analysis arising from a cooperation project of refugee- and human rights organizations that tries to examine and improve the reception conditions for refugees in seven memberstates of the EU (two old and five new ones).

Salvaging extremely well-preserved Roman mosaics: cultural property and 'Europe'

Author: Eisuke Tanaka (Fukuoka Jo Gakuin University)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper will explore how the importance of historical objects marked as 'cultural property' is elaborated and articulated in relation to the category of 'Europe' by focusing on a case from Turkey, a country which has a lot of material remains that present 'European' pasts (i.e. classical antiquity) rather than 'Turkish' ones and is actually applying for an EU membership.

Discussions concerning cultural property suggest that cultural manifestations are considered to belong to two collective or communal entities i.e. 'heritage' of a particular community (i.e. a nation or an ethnic group) and 'common heritage' or 'heritage of humanity.' The importance of protecting cultural property is articulated from these two points of view. Notably, the protection of cultural manifestations as 'common heritage' is often claimed by those from 'Europe.' The EU funded conservation programmes for 'common heritage' in the Mediterranean regions, and some European non-governmental organisations that are concerned with the protection of cultural property often protest against development projects outside 'Europe,' which would affect historical and archaeological sites considered 'heritage of humanity.'

One such case is that of Zeugma in Turkey, where in 2000 rescue excavations found extremely well-preserved Roman mosaics. Turkish media attention to this issue was stimulated by international (including 'European') media coverage. Analysing the controversy over the rescue excavation project conducted at Zeugma, this paper will examine what it means for different groups involved in this case, 'European' media and institutions concerned with the protection of cultural property, Turkish state agencies, Turkish and foreign archaeologists, and locals, to 'protect' things considered 'cultural property'; and how in each case they claim importance of protecting Roman mosaics found at Zeugma both in relation to the idea of 'heritage' of a particular community (i.e. a nation or an ethnic group) and that of 'common heritage.' It will suggest that the importance of the mosaics as 'world heritage' mainly claimed from 'Europe,' is adopted and adapted by those involved in Turkey to formulate their arguments to protect Turkey's important cultural property.

Ethnographic insights from peasant lives in Istanbul

Author: Emma Hoskins (Hull University)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper is drawn from ethnographic insights into peasant migrant lives on the Asian edge of Istanbul. Turkey has been 'on the edge' of Europe and oriented towards 'progress' since its inception as a modern nation in 1922. Still 'on the edge', yet tantalizingly close to Europe, Turkey as a nation state has oscillated between competing representations of itself, solidified by a sense of 'approaching modernity'. Istanbul is a living example of this state - 'a city of two halves': Europe and Asia, divided by the Bosphorous. Alongside government articulations of orientation towards Europe as 'progress', migrant peasants from the eastern hinterlands of Turkey fall into an ill-formulated but ubiquitous antithetical 'other'. This finds voice in middle class perceptions and articulations of the 'other' as undesirable and naturally inferior. In moving to Istanbul and becoming closer to Europe, it is incumbent on migrant peasants to deal with new challenges and questions and to articulate the changes that they are experiencing during an everyday social and physical exchange with people and systems. Living as a citizen in Istanbul, there is an ongoing negotiation between, and placing of, fellow citizens against an axis of 'modernity'. Against this backdrop, I address the daily articulations of 'morality', 'knowledge' and 'quality' by peasant migrants living close to 'modern' co-citizens, infrastructure and products. In so doing, I address the symbolic struggles with and contradictions between particular imaginings of Europe, Istanbul and lived experience. I examine the differences between romanticised and utilitarian perceptions of what it is to be a 'modern' citizen and the employment of strategies in negotiation of these.

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

Author: Christos Karagiannidis  email
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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'?

Europeanisation as biographisation: internationalised biographies and staged national belonging

Author: Kerstin Poehls (Universität Hamburg)  email
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Long Abstract

The College of Europe educates young people from more than 40 countries to become "Europeans". On both campuses in Bruges (Belgium) and Natolin (Poland), students study and live together for one academic year. The College of Europe is well known and established as the "ante-chambre" to the Brussels field of power. This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted at the College of Europe within the context of an ongoing Ph.D.-project.

Some of the most important events in the students' social life and in the tradition of the College are the so-called "national parties": students from one country or region arrange a huge festivity for all their fellow students in order to stage "their country" and "their own" traditions. Nowadays, around 90 per cent of all students at the College of Europe have spent some time abroad, be it as an ERASMUS exchange student or with their diplomat family - their biographies are "internationalized". Simultaneously, "national parties" have lost nothing of their attractiveness as they produce a sense of belonging and allow producing the respective "other" within the framework of "nations". At a point where students' biographies, every day life and professional practices become increasingly mobile, nations as "real" places gain in attractiveness.

This paper will explore how students reproduce, reshape and reformulate national images and stereotypes in a manner that is at the same time playful and "representative" within the College community. Taking a closer look at biographical data as well as the performances during the parties as well as during their large-scale preparation (rehearsing performances, looking for sponsors, "typical" catering…), this paper will ask why and in which specific way the concept and imaginations of nations as places still seem to be guarantors and sources of symbolic capital in a deterritorialized social sphere of potential European(ized) elites where life practices become increasingly mobile.

'Europe': no longer 'somewhere else'

Author: William Kavanagh (CEU San Pablo University, Madrid)  email
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Long Abstract

For the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, 'Europe' had, for a very long time, been thought of as being somewhere else - Germany, France, even England were considered to be 'Europe' - but not Portugal or Spain. 'Europe' represented the economic, political and cultural modernity to which both countries of the Iberian Peninsula could only aspire. Yet, on the first of January 1986 both countries at last became part of 'Europe' (or at least of that part now known as the European Union). This paper, based on long-term fieldwork in communities on both sides of the border between the Portuguese region of Trás-os-Montes and the Spanish region of Galicia, looks at the different ways individuals living on a post-Schengen internal European border are now beginning to imagine themselves as being part of a wider European community and how this has affected, in sometimes rather surprising ways, both their local identities and their movements across a formerly 'hard' (that is, closely supervised) international frontier. One of the oldest borders in Europe, the Portuguese-Spanish border has remained virtually unchanged for some eight hundred years and, like many borders, has always been a peripheral area for both nation-states. One might be justified in saying that, from the viewpoint of Lisbon or Madrid, the two countries have lived with their backs turned to one another for centuries. However, this was never true of the local people living on the border, whose highly developed smuggling activities necessitated the maintenance of close relations with those on the other side, just as they needed the existence of the border itself. The virtual disappearance of that trade with the opening of the border following implementation of the Schengen convention in the early 90s has meant that the 'soft' (that is, uncontrolled) border of today, in ways contrary to what one might have thought to be the case, has actually reduced social relations between the inhabitants of the border communities and those on the other side of the frontier and transformed previously intertwined identities.

'Europe' and European identity in the narratives of Britons in rural France

Author: Michaela Benson (University of York)  email
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Long Abstract

British migration to rural France has a long history, founded within counterurbanization and tourism. However, with the construction of the European space there has been an explosion in the number of Britons moving to France. This paper draws on ethnographic fieldwork carried out among British migrants in the Lot département of France to show how the migrants variously operationalize the notion of a European identity within their decisions to migrate and within their everyday experiences.

For some migrants, the confusion of physical and spatial distance in a Europe, where territorial boundaries are so easily and quickly crossed, has led to a perceived compression of cultural differences. As a result, conceptualizations of Europe, and European identity revolve around claims of cultural homogeneity within Europe. Neglecting the differences between the French and the British, these migrants experience discontinuities between their lived experiences and their expectations of life in the rural France. However, even recognizing the presence of heterogeneity within Europe is accompanied by a sense of discomfort. For those migrants aware of the many cultural differences between Britain and France, there is the fear that migration undermines the diversity of Europe. This is the result of both the migration of policy and people. While the migrants they strive to perpetuate this heterogeneity, embracing aspects of the French life and culture, they realize that cultures are fluid; their mere presence within the French rural space contributes to the transformations that they perceive around them.

Contrasting these two positions, this paper demonstrates the ways in which various notions of what Europe means, and what it means to be European impact on the actual and imagined experiences of British migrants in rural France.