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Europe and the Other and Europe as the Other


Edited By Bo Strath

This book contributes to the debate on what Europe means by demonstrating the complexities and contradictions inherent in the concept. They are seen most clearly when Europe is viewed from a long historical perspective.
During the closing decades of the twentieth century Europe emerged as one of the main points of reference in both the cultural and the political constructs of the global community. An obsession with the concept of European identity is readily discernible. This process of identity construction provokes critical questions which the book aims to address. At the same time the book explores the opportunities offered by the concept of Europe to see how it may be used in the construction of the future. The approach is one of both deconstruction and reconstruction.
The issue of Europe is closely related in the book to more general issues concerning the cultural construction of community. The book should therefore be seen as the companion of Myth and Memory in the Construction of Community, which is also published by PIE-Peter Lang in the series Multiple Europes.
The book appears within the framework of a research project on the cultural construction of community in modernisation processes in comparison. This project is a joint enterprise of the European University Institute in Florence and the Humboldt University in Berlin sponsored by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Fund.


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Chapter 3: A European Identity? 87


87 CHAPTER 3 A European Identity? Lutz NIETHAMMER Euro-Culture It is well-known that Europe reacted in both a systematically progressive and nationally regressive way to the implosion of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. On the systemic level, it rejected a new European-specific plan for the entire “House of Europe”, including Russia – and is now – with the active consent of the ex-Soviet satellites – intent on expanding the US-dominated NATO alliance up to the borders of Russia. Upon the acceptance of Poland, the new representatives of the continent, the German chancellor and the French president, made demonstrative visits to Moscow to appease the post-Soviet president with money and kind words. Following the Cold War, the North Atlantic pact had, in fact, no adversary. It was more a routine and available mechanism in which Germany, in the wake of its unification, could invest its military sovereignty, thereby allaying its partners’ fears of Germany going it alone. In the long run, however, the subjugation of the second largest member of the organisation is hardly sufficient grounds to maintain the existence of the best-armed alliance in the world. Additional reasons for its perpetuation have to be found, and it is not year clear whether these will lie, in the long run, in its becoming a deputy for the world police, or else in joining together with the other potential powers of the West for a possible war of cultures. Most likely, we Europeans will be instructed about our identity through...

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