The Meaning of Europe: Variety and Contention within and among Nations

The Meaning of Europe: Variety and Contention within and among Nations

The Meaning of Europe: Variety and Contention within and among Nations

The Meaning of Europe: Variety and Contention within and among Nations

Synopsis

Mention the word Europe in today's society and you are greeted with a range of responses, from impassioned debate, to scepticism and outright hostility. Yet long before the emergence of the modern European Union, the concept of Europe played a vital role in the creation of national identity. This book considers the wealth of contemporary and historical attitudes towards Europe and how these vary both within and between nation-states.Why are some countries 'Europhiles' whilst others are 'Europhobic'? How has Europe alternately been perceived as a threat to local culture and identity or as the core of nation-building? Why are individual responses to Europe so diverse? Comparing and contrasting experiences from twelve very different countries, the authors explore the multitude of ways in which established national discourses are reconciled with an emerging identity within the EU. In doing so, this book makes an important contribution to what has proved to be one of the most controversial and heated debates of our time.

Excerpt

Europe is a contested concept that must appear in the plural. When the ancient Greeks talked about Eυρω πη, it is unclear from where and from what language they derived the term. One theory is that the origin is Semitic and that it meant the land in the sunset. From their position in the archipelago of the East Mediterranean, the land in the sunset was to the North as well as to the South of the sea basin. Since then the frontiers of Europe have shifted and there have been many and various discourses on the concept. Europe was not, and is not, an easily definable term with essential proportions, but has since Antiquity been discursively shaped through constant negotiation of whom to in- and exclude. The Greek view, where Europe bridged the Mediterranean, was transformed during the war against Islam into a divide by this sea, and Europe emerged gradually as synonymous with Christianity. Or, rather, Christianity substituted Europe as a concept for unification, with a stronger ideological and political connotation than the original Greek Eυρω πη. During the centuries that immediately followed 1095, the crusades strengthened the Mediterranean divide. The divide did not curtail commercial and other contacts, but accentuated the cultural distinction between a Christian Self and a Muslim Other.

These differences were further pronounced during the Ottoman expansion into the Balkans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Turk peril was propagated through new printed media as the main threat to Christianity in the Habsburg Empire and, albeit less intensely, in France and in what today is called Italy. The Christian identification against the Ottoman rulers was more problematic in the Balkan peninsula inside the Ottoman Empire, as the Ottomans employed a tolerant regime with respect to religious politics. Moreover, the military and economic power struggle in the Levant, between the Habsburgs, France, Spain and the Italian city states, penetrated the Christian–Islamic/Ottoman divide and went in many respects beyond the religious dichotomy. Economic . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.