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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 6: “The Third World” as an Element in the Collective Construction of a Post-Colonial European Identity 157


157 CHAPTER 6 “The Third World” as an Element in the Collective Construction of a Post-Colonial European Identity Erik TÄNGERSTAD It is somewhat ironic that in contemporary English, the concepts “developing countries” and “Third World” have become synonymous. When the expression “Third World” was first uttered, it was intended as a counter-concept with which to oppose the logic of “under- developed” or “developing countries”. In order to provide the back- ground for this conceptual twist, I shall first sketch in briefly the outlines of modernity and modernisation. In the wake of the 18th century Enlightenment and the French Revolution, a new and bold idea took shape. Previously, the general notion of the course of history had been one of perpetual decline, but according to this new idea, mankind as a whole had, throughout the development of history, been steadily improving thanks to a collective quest towards clarity and liberty. The conceptual tools provided by absolute reason enabled universal mankind to obtain an increasingly clear picture of reality and, at the same time, to liberate itself from the prejudices of tradition and superstition. Moreover, this idea promised that the progressive course of history would continue. The words of Kant are emblematic: “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.” He went on to add that we do not yet live in an enlightened age, but in an era of enlightenment1. 1 Kant, 1991 [1784]. Europe and the Other and Europe as the Other 158 It was words such as these...

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