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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 5: Decline or Renaissance: The Transformation of European Consciousness after the First World War 123


123 CHAPTER 5 Decline or Renaissance: The Transformation of European Consciousness after the First World War1 Katiana ORLUC Europeans, become Europeans! Coudenhove-Kalergi Introduction In autumn 1915, the French writer Ferdinand Lion published an essay on Europe in the Neuer Merkur in which he claimed that the mythological figures of Europa and Proteus were identical. Lion gave voice to Europa who introduced herself with the words, “I am Proteus, life itself.”2 Given that Proteus symbolises constant change, Europa describes her identity as indefinable and permanently shifting. Following this metaphor, the fundamental assumption of this paper is that the history of the European idea is the history of the changing discourse on Europe, “in which ideas and identities are formed and historical realities constituted”3. This chapter examines the Europe pensée, that is to say, the cultural and political conceptions of Europe between the two world wars. It 1 Many thanks for comments on earlier versions of this paper to Prof. Bo Stråth, Prof. Luisa Passerini, Prof. Claudio Fogu, Benita Blessing, Michael Miller and, in particular, to Hagen Schulz-Forberg. 2 Lion, 1994, p. 226. Unless stated otherwise, all translations are by the author. 3 Delanty, 1995, p. 3. See also Eric Hobsbawm, who pointed out that “the continent [...] exists exclusively as an intellectual construct”. Hobsbawm, 1998, p. 289. Europe and the Other and Europe as the Other 124 focusses on the ways in which notions of Europe – or as we shall see, the Occident – surfaced after the First World...

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