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The Space of Crisis

Images and Ideas of Europe in the Age of Crisis: 1914–1945


Edited By Vittorio Dini and Matthew D'Auria

Focusing on European cultural and intellectual history in first half of the twentieth century, The Space of Crisis investigates how notions of crisis and changing perceptions of space influenced the way Europeans imagined themselves, their past and their future.
The book is an attempt to reassess some of the main assumptions of historians and political theorists about the way intellectuals, artists, legal theorists and historians interpreted Europe’s crisis during the 1920s and 1930s. By so doing, it investigates the intellectual foundations of the ensuing federalist and Europeanist movements, highlighting the importance of the writings of those years in understanding today’s Europe and its current predicaments.


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INTRODUCTION - Notions of Crisis, Shifting Spatialities, and Images of Europe - Vittorio DINI and Matthew D’AURIA


11 INTRODUCTION Notions of Crisis, Shifting Spatialities, and Images of Europe Vittorio DINI and Matthew D’AURIA Every new era and every new epoch in the coex- istence of peoples, empires, and countries, of rulers and power formations of every sort, is founded on new spatial division, new enclo- sures, and new spatial orders of the earth Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth (1950) In 1938, while Europe was teetering on the brink of the Second World War, the Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico sketched one of his meta- physical œuvres depicting a wide and deserted square in the centre of which was a statue of a lone man facing the horizon. The square was empty except for two half-hidden shadows on the far right.1 The one in the painting, revealingly called Melancholy of the political man, was an empty space in which the purpose of the square itself as place of mar- kets, discussions and meetings, was defeated by the absence of citizens. It is precisely this absence that explains the title of the work and gives an insight into de Chirico’s perception of the defeat of modern politics. Mirrored by the lack of men and women discussing their own and the city’s business, is in fact a sombre feeling of powerlessness and disin- terest for politics. Remarkably, de Chirico’s use of a square to represent the defeat of politics brings to mind a certain idea of Europe. According to historian Santo Mazzarino, in fact, squares have been the...

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