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About this book

Europe is imbued with a multitude of social, cultural, economic and political meanings. The authors of this comprehensive text present an authoritative yet accessible introduction to understanding Europe today, moving beyond accounts of European integration to provide a holistic and nuanced study of contemporary Europe and its historical development.

This book explores evolving definitions of Europe from antiquity, to the Cold War, right through to Europe in the midst of the Eurozone and global financial crises. By examining the different roles and meanings that Europe has held inside and outside of the continent, including the European Union's 'branding' of Europe, the text grounds its analysis in an understanding of Europes plural. Chapters explore concepts of Europe as civilization, Europe as progress, Europe as unity and Europe as diversity.

How do Europeans think of themselves and their respective national identities in a multicultural and multi-ethnic age? How has modernity and the pre- and post-industrial values of Europe affected the Europe of now and what are the political legacies of Europe? To what extent are notions of social solidarity shared across the continent? This is the first text to systematically answer these questions, and others, in order to better determine 'what is Europe?'

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. What is Europe? An Introduction

Abstract
It was nearly 30 years ago when Edgar Morin, a famous French philosopher and sociologist historian was writing:
If Europe is law, it is also force; if it is democracy it is also oppression; if it is spirituality, it is also materiality; if it is moderation, it is also hubris and excess: if it is reason, it is also myth, even in the very idea of reason. (Morin, 1987, p. 23)
If one asked citizens the question, ‘What is Europe?’, they would probably disagree in their answers but many among them would assume that there is an absolute truth to be found — a definitive answer to be given. They would thus argue on the criteria or the historical evidence on which a definition of Europe could or should rest. Indeed, one might answer the question through reference to public opinion surveys, another may draw on historical works or quote the words of famous European thinkers, while many may privilege a politicized and ideological definition of Europe. More often than not, in such contemporary discussions, one would conflate the term ‘Europe’ with that of the ‘European Union’ (EU).
Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas

Chapter 2. The Changing Shape of Europe

Abstract
History is obviously not merely a simple record of a series of facts. It is an effort at understanding, interpreting and reinterpreting specific events, or, even more so, humanity at work. It sits on a fine line between objectivity and subjectivity, between an account of actions and our individual perspective of them. Our historical perspective is tainted by ideology, by time and distance. It is essentially a series of arguments that are debated, a selection of events presented by the historian in an effort to understand the why and how. We may actually distinguish between history as the product of critical inquiry into the past and history as ‘our story’, as a narrative that offers an awareness and understanding of the present, an explanation of the drivers of social change and, implicitly, a way to the future. This distinction between history as an academic endeavour and history as a meaning-making narrative may appear clear-cut in theory, but in practice, it can be fuzzy. Even a critical academic inquiry includes some degree of narrative. Ultimately, the historian does not stand in a historical (or ideological) void, s/he is also historically situated.
Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas

Chapter 3. Visions of a United Europe

Abstract
Throughout history, Europe has been an elusive concept. Jean Monnet wrote in 1950:
Europe has never existed … We must genuinely create Europe, it must become manifest to itself … and it must have confidence in its own future (Monnet, 1950).
Perceptions of what Europe is have inextricably been entangled with aspirations, often contradictory ones, of what Europe ought to be. Grand power politics, religion, nationalism and ideology have framed perceptions of Europe and have inspired very different visions of what Europe is meant to represent. Europe has often served as a narrative, told and retold by different actors, in different contexts and at different times, for different purposes and to very different audiences.
Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas

Chapter 4. Cultural Europe

Abstract
‘It’s culture, not war that cements European identity’, wrote Umberto Eco in 2012. But what do we mean when we connect the words ‘Europe’ and ‘culture’? In this chapter we try to unravel the connections between the two in order to explore what these have represented at different times in history and in which ways they are relevant at present. In recent decades, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists and philosophers have taken a strong interest in exploring the cultural dimensions of Europe and the signifiers of European culture, European heritage, the cultural identity of Europe and the extent to which it is different from or similar to ‘Western’ culture.
Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas

Chapter 5. European Identity — European Identities

Abstract
One of the most difficult aspects in understanding Europe in the present, but also in the past, has been the question of European identity. Does a European identity exist? Do the Europeans feel European? And if they do, how does a feeling of belonging to Europe relate to other important collective and political identities such as national identity or indeed ethnic or minority identity?
Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas

Chapter 6. The Borders and Boundaries of Europe

Abstract
On the European continent, borders have been drawn and redrawn through wars, annexations and peace treaties. They have shifted countless times in some areas and have remained constant in others. They have come to symbolically represent the essence of a nation in certain cases, or a seemingly insurmountable cross-border conflict in others. The consolidation and militarization of frontiers has been accorded immense political and strategic value throughout the centuries. At the same time, alliances, cooperations and, in more recent decades efforts at regional integration, have reduced the significance of some borders to administrative formalities or zones rich with various forms and types of exchanges. Europe’s history has thus been a combination of efforts aimed at maintaining borders and efforts aimed at transcending them.
Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas

Chapter 7. Political Europe

Abstract
As an adjective, the word ‘political’ refers to matters of the government or public affairs. It pertains to active engagement, to ideological alignment and, to power. In this chapter we delve into the political dimensions that have defined Europe. Europe’s political map is rich with competing ideologies characterized by universalist aspirations and global resonance, political systems that range from the liberal to the illiberal, and from the democratic to the non-democratic. Europe has been crafted through the coexistence of a long legacy of nation-building and state-building, and of political projects aimed at improving democratic governance or imposing authoritarian rule. It has also been shaped by a history of tensions between the civil and the military centres of power and between the civil and religious centres of power.
Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas

Chapter 8. The Social Dimension of Europe

Abstract
Europe has long been known and distinguished from other parts of the world for its social dimension, notably for its social policies that aim at taking care of the most vulnerable populations in society, on the basis of a shared notion of social solidarity. Even if the exact breadth and depth of this social solidarity may differ among European countries and the welfare systems that each supports may vary, there is a view that European countries have put great emphasis on their systems of social protection in the post-war era in particular. A distinct European model (or indeed a set of European models) has thereby been created with some common characteristics and is certainly distinctive from what happens in other parts of the Western world (such as North America or Australia). Indeed this emphasis on both synchronic (within the same generation) and diachronic (inter-generational) solidarity is seen as an identifiable feature of European societies and European nation-states as well as of the European Union as a regional system of government today.
Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas

Chapter 9. Global Europe

Abstract
A very concise analysis of the role of Europe in the world can be summarized in three statements made 20 years apart. In 1982, Hedley Bull wrote, “Europe” is not an actor in international affairs, and does not seem likely to become on…’, while lan Manners in 2002 suggested that actually Europe through the EU was redefining ‘what can be “normal” in international relations. Rather than being a contradiction in terms, the ability to define what passes for “normal” in world politics is, ultimately, the greatest power of all.’ Round about the same time, Philip Alston and J.H.H. Weiler (2000) were arguing that ‘the Union can only achieve the leadership role to which it aspires through the example it sets to its partners and other States. Leading by example should become the leitmotif of a new EU human rights policy’.
Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas

Chapter 10. Europe is…

Abstract
There are two answers to the question What is Europe? The short answer is that Europe is a space and a place. It is a space, defined by geography. It is a continent, indeed the second smallest one on the globe. It is a place in the sense that it is a territory that is imbued with meaning — it has specific social, cultural and economic connotations. Albeit most scholars writing on Europe and politicians involved in national or European politics disagree on what these defining elements of Europe as a space actually are.
Anna Triandafyllidou, Ruby Gropas
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