Academic journal article Review of European Studies

EUrope and the World: Perspectives on EUrope - the English School Meets Post-Colonialism: Introduction

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

EUrope and the World: Perspectives on EUrope - the English School Meets Post-Colonialism: Introduction

Article excerpt

Europe is in flux, as is the Europe Union (EU). There may be institutions, commissions, ranks, codified policies, and (the illusion of) structures; it seems, however, that ultimately there is also movement, change, instability, hybridity, and -in the contemporary world of advanced capitalism, euro-crisis, and economic hazard - a great deal of uncertainty, surprise, and psychology. Beyond 'structures' and 'policy' one needs therefore, if one wishes to understand the EU and act politically in any meaningful way, to explore and decipher perceptions, political language, beliefs, ideologies, and the political thought of, and within, Europe and the European Union. Only through the study of perceptions, political language, beliefs, ideologies, and political thought can one understand and respond politically to transformations, changes, instabilities, and crises. This seems in present times even more important than ever. Very rarely, however, operate perceptions solipsistically within and through the self, even though they are very often believed to do, constructed in some binary opposition opposite a stigmatized 'other'. Under such circumstances they then need to be and become practically reassured in violent and martial ways. In order to overcome self-centrism and to accomplish less instrumentalized relations, i.e. freed from binary stigmatizations, one not only has to investigate perceptions of Europe and the EU about itself, but also, and with at least the same importance, perceptions of Europe and the EU from 'outside'. This is the main purpose and focus of this issue.

Further to such theoretical considerations, such an investigation seems empirically particularly relevant because Europe, historically and present-day, extensively invokes and invoked images of the non-European 'other' for its own identity constructions. Therefore, it is important to ask how do these 'others' reversely perceive and think about Europe: how are Europe and the EU being seen from around the world? What are the objects of such perceptions: the EU as a regional organization; EU enlargement; European 'free' trade and Europe as an economic partner; Europe as an institution; as a global power; as a 'soft' power? Or: 'Europe' as a geographical entity and space? And/or: 'Europe' as inhabiting the most forceful colonial and imperial powers of the past, very often key and founding members of the EU itself? Thus: what part plays history and historical consciousness of European relations to the world; and to which degree? From an analytical point of view one also has to ask what kind of theories and concepts seem appropriate to understand and explore those questions and related dynamics?

This brief sketch outlines the key concerns and questions which are asked and addressed in this special issue; and which are explored looking into political perceptions and discourses on Europe and the EU from around the world: the Middle East; Russia; China; Japan; the United States; Latin America; the ASEAN; sub-Saharan Africa; and Turkey. The editor does not wish to summarize those individual contributions and their empirical findings; they may speak for themselves, each engaged in giving respective peoples and states a voice towards, vis-à-vis, and sometimes also opposite Europe and the European Union. In contrast to an attempt to summarize, this Introduction aims at outlining the analytical focus of the study of perceptions of Europe as it underlies more or less explicitly the single contributions in this issue chosen by their authors to discuss and deal with their topics.

Europe and the EU as a historical movement of emergence, extension, contraction, thus of change and transformations, is a theme which seems to be covered by the study of "international society" through an English School perspective. The understanding of Europe as an international society in historical existence, emerging, extending, and finally exporting its institutions on a global scale is an ontological and epistemological approach which is easily applicable to the EU (see , for example, Czaputowicz, 2003). …

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