We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship

We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship

We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship

We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship

Synopsis

Etienne Balibar has been one of Europe's most important philosophical and political thinkers since the 1960s. His work has been vastly influential on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the humanities and the social sciences. In We, the People of Europe?, he expands on themes raised in his previous works to offer a trenchant and eloquently written analysis of "transnational citizenship" from the perspective of contemporary Europe. Balibar moves deftly from state theory, national sovereignty, and debates on multiculturalism and European racism, toward imagining a more democratic and less state-centered European citizenship.


Although European unification has progressively divorced the concepts of citizenship and nationhood, this process has met with formidable obstacles. While Balibar seeks a deep understanding of this critical conjuncture, he goes beyond theoretical issues. For example, he examines the emergence, alongside the formal aspects of European citizenship, of a "European apartheid," or the reduplication of external borders in the form of "internal borders" nurtured by dubious notions of national and racial identity. He argues for the democratization of how immigrants and minorities in general are treated by the modern democratic state, and the need to reinvent what it means to be a citizen in an increasingly multicultural, diversified world. A major new work by a renowned theorist, We, the People of Europe? offers a far-reaching alternative to the usual framing of multicultural debates in the United States while also engaging with these debates.

Excerpt

This book is the American equivalent to the volume published in France with the title Nous, citoyens d'Europe? Les Frontières, l'État, le peuple. But although there is much similarity of content between the two volumes, I should make clear immediately that it is as much an adaptation as a translation. First, some of the chapters were originally written in English and, although they needed some editing and rewriting, are now basically returning to their original form. Second, some texts included in the French volume have been removed because they had already appeared in recent collections in England or the United States, were less significant for an English-speaking readership, or were partially redundant with other essays in the volume, and we wanted to make room for more recent essays that updated the ideas and descriptions of the earlier texts. Third, two substantial essays included in this volume have no equivalent in the French volume because they were written after its completion. They now form my last two chapters: “Democratic Citizenship or Popular Sovereignty?” and “Europe: Vanishing Mediator?”

As a consequence, the organization of the book has been reconsidered: it is no longer made of separate parts with specific summaries and introductions. Instead, the chapters are presented in continuous succession, with an Ouverture (my address to the University of Thessaloníki in 1999) and a Finale (my George L. Mosse Lecture from November 2002, also originally addressed to a European audience but as a public reply to what I perceived as an interpellation to “Europe” coming from American intellectuals). In this manner, I hope that the goals of the volume have gained clarity. As will become clear from a progressive reading, many of the peculiarities of my arguments are dependent on the circumstances, dates, places, kinds of audiences that specified each of the essays. This results from my conviction, now firmly rooted, that political matters . . .

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