The European Puzzle

The European Puzzle: The Political Structuring of Cultural Identities at a Time of Transition

Edited by Marion Demossier
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    The European Puzzle
    Book Description:

    The twin concepts of "Culture" and "Identity" are inescapable in any discussion of European Integration and yet over the last ten years their meaning has become increasingly contested. By combining an anthropological and political perspective, the authors challenge the traditional boundaries within the issue of the construction of Europe. In the first part, historians and anthropologists from various national traditions discuss the process of the construction of Europe and its implications for cultural identities. The second section examines a number of topics at the core of the process of Europeanization and presents up-to-date information on each of these issues: political parties, regions, football, cities, the Euro, ethnicity, heritage and European cinema. Emphasis is be placed on the political structuring of cultural identities by contrasting top-down and bottom-up processes that define the tensions between the unity and diversity of the European Community.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-863-6
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Key Dates of European Integration
    (pp. x-xii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
    Marion Demossier
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    Marion Demossier

    Since 1 May 2004, when the European Union was enlarged from 15 to 25 countries and then to 27,¹ the issues of European culture and identity have resurfaced, becoming more acute than ever before. Following the entry of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, over 490 million people now belong to this unique and challenging project that is called the European Union. Twenty-seven countries, 23 official languages and a strong sense of cultural diversity provide a real challenge to any attempt to construct a viable political edifice. The expansion into a wider political structure regulated by treaties and a common legal...

  7. Part I European Political Constructs

    • Chapter 1 The Formation of National Identities
      (pp. 15-28)
      Anne-Marie Thiesse

      If the debate about the composition and form of a European identity has become so complex today, it is because the nature of that identity is still unclear. There cannot, however, be any doubt about the existence of national identities. And these national identities, so solidly entrenched, often appear to be the principal obstacle, as an expression of ancient and irreducible differences between nations, to any sort of union on the Continent (Thiesse 1999).

      Three points should nevertheless be kept in mind. Firstly, the different European nations are all far younger than their official histories would have us believe. Secondly,...

    • Chapter 2 ‘More Than Its Fair Share of History’: Europe and Its Recent Past
      (pp. 29-48)
      Richard Vinen

      Whether or not countries have different shares of history, it is certainly true that they talk about their histories in very different ways and to different extents. The aim of this chapter is not to describe European history since 1945 but rather to suggest various ways in which recent history impinges on Europe’s present and to say something about the mechanisms through which an awareness of history is transmitted.

      The first point to be made is that discussion of the recent past has varied a great deal from one European country to another. Compare, for example, views of the recent...

    • Chapter 3 The Political Structuring of Cultural Identities in the European Union
      (pp. 49-66)
      Marion Demossier

      Today, Europe offers a challenging and complex terrain for any study of concepts such as politics, identity and culture.¹ Yet despite its great potential as a field of research, there have been few serious attempts to investigate it from an interdisciplinary perspective.² If we consider the academic works on European integration produced over the last 30 years, it is clear that each discipline has been content to conduct its debates within the limits of its own boundaries. It is, for example, very rare to see political scientists treading on the dangerous ground of the social scientists, and the opposite is...

    • Chapter 4 European Identity in a Transnational Era
      (pp. 67-82)
      Ralph Grillo

      ‘It’s odd to think of Linford Christie as a “European”’, remarked a British academic participating in an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) workshop held in London in the early 1990s to discuss a research programme on European integration. Linford Christie, the most eminent British athlete of the period, is of Afro-Caribbean origin. He is black. In a similar vein, Jacqueline Andall (2002: 400) reports the following exchange that had occurred between an Italian official and an Italian of African extraction in Milan: ‘I brought along my CV where everything is written down – where I was born, how old...

  8. Part II Cultural and Political Identities in Transition

    • Chapter 5 Heritage versus Tradition: Cultural Resources for a New Europe?
      (pp. 85-101)
      Ullrich Kockel

      Attempts by the European Union (EU) to create a common European identity have attracted much cynicism. Corresponding to the increasing politicisation of culture, there is now in European policy an extraordinary range of initiatives promoting the exploitation of cultural resources as a key to enhancing the social and economic conditions of local areas. These initiatives include long-term programmes such as ‘Culture 2000’ or ‘City of Culture’ and limited-life ones such as PACTE or Pleiades,¹ and it has been suggested that the ‘objectification of culture at national, regional, and local levels’, while ‘not wholly unprecedented’, has ‘become singularly powerful over the...

    • Chapter 6 Dinosaur, Shipwreck or Museum Piece? The Unstable Identity of European Cinema
      (pp. 102-118)
      Wendy Everett

      Within the ongoing debate about the complex, unstable and multiple identities of Europe, the role of cinema must be acknowledged as particularly significant.¹ This is partly because cinema offers a condensed and vivid illustration of the vulnerability of the national and regional to the relentless dynamics of globalisation – specifically, in this case, to the dominant discourse of Hollywood. But more importantly, it is because the fundamental relationship that exists between seeing and understanding and the centrality of visual images to the formation of identity place the cinema in a uniquely powerful position.

      While cinema can be situated within the...

    • Chapter 7 Through the Looking Glass of Football
      (pp. 119-140)
      Christian Bromberger

      Having first surfaced in the English public schools¹ of the middle of the nineteenth century (and officially recognised since 1863),² the sport of football not only was born and nurtured in Europe, but also came to encapsulate the values and contradictions of the European industrial societies that were its cradle.³ The massive expansion of modern sport, with its competitive calendars and autonomous organisation, was inextricably linked to the emergence of ‘free time’ and a ‘civilisation of leisure’ amongst the popular classes. It was in this context of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that a game which was originally...

  9. Part III Challenges to Existent Forms of Belonging and Cultural Values

    • Chapter 8 Parties, Identity and Europeanisation: An Asymmetrical Relationship?
      (pp. 143-160)
      David Hanley

      It is generally accepted that political identities are structured via a variety of agencies, yet it is less clear what function political parties play in this process. The literature assigns them a number of roles, principally that of aggregating political demand – seeking to represent, in an overarching way, a swath of opinion across civil society and to obtain from the political process the gratification of desiderata emanating from such support groups. In government, parties are expected to elaborate policy and run the state machinery, while in opposition, to criticise and challenge government, ensuring a healthy political debate. Perhaps their...

    • Chapter 9 Remapping Regionalism in Europe
      (pp. 161-182)
      Peter Wagstaff

      The complex mix of identity and culture that defines life for many in today’s Europe is vividly expressed in the first few minutes of British director Ken Loach’s recent filmAe Fond Kiss, which explores the human impact of ethnic antagonisms in the Scottish city of Glasgow. A teenage girl tries to explain to fellow students in her inner-city school the combination of cultural, social and religious influences that make her what she is: ‘I’m a Glaswegian Pakistani teenager woman of Muslim descent who supports Rangers in a Catholic school.’¹ Her declaration is made with a confidence and exuberance (and...

    • Chapter 10 Cultural Identities and the European City
      (pp. 183-206)
      Susan Milner

      The city as a form of organisation is seen by many as central to Europe’s cultural identity (Bagnasco and Le Galès 2002). Historically, the development of European identities is linked to Christianity and the rise of a secular bourgeoisie which often came into conflict with it; these expressions of identity and conflicts were given physical form in towns and cities (Le Goff 2005). In other words, Europe’s buildings and the organisation of its towns and cities reflect its history. Little wonder, then, that French historians (e.g. Halbwachs 1994; Roncayolo 1997) have identified cities as ‘places of memory’. Europe’s cultural identity...

  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 207-209)
  11. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 210-213)
  12. Index
    (pp. 214-220)