EIC: European Identity and Culture

In the rapidly mutating global and domestic context, understanding the changing identities of Europe and Europeans is crucial. Today’s challenges, manifested not least in the continuing Euro-crisis, cannot be addressed without a full appreciation of their cultural and historical dimensions, which extend well beyond the EU-28 and the current moment.

The contemporary political economic, and strategic context is underpinned by a tapestry of cultural allegiances and aversions, which are continuously aired and reinvented in all forms of conventional and new media. ‘Europe’ and European identity are not immutable historical and geographical givens, but rather form a multiple, overlapping, and mobile matrix, that cannot be abstracted from Europe’s past and present relations with its various Others. An interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and multi-temporal perspective can thus make a valuable contribution to debates about the present and future of Europe, at both national and European levels.

‘European’: a multi-faceted identity

It is important to examine the ways in which Europe and European identities have been formed across time and space, and the various ways in which Europe has been and continues to be present within, but also beyond, the EU’s current borders. Bringing together work in the humanities, social sciences, and law, such an approach engages with current European social and political concerns, but also with broader cultural questions of belonging, and the shifting boundaries of inclusion and exclusion in the ‘European home’. Europe has repeatedly tried to (re)make the world in its own image, and its various colonial and post-colonial encounters have indelibly shaped ‘Europe-making’. This highlights the role of successive newly-European migrants and diasporic communities in the construction of Europe today, and as a crucial bridge between Europe and the wider world. The creation of a ‘European heritage’, and the role of memory and indeed forgetting in European culture and identity, are all fundamental to the issues which simultaneously beset and adorn Europe today.

Affiliated researchers