Anthropologists on the EU at 60
Editor: Don Kalb
On 25 March 2017, the EU celebrated the 60th birthday of the Treaty of Rome—this, at a time when the European Union is more contested than ever, and indeed more contested every day. Brexit, the euro, the PIGS, the Balkans, the Visegrad Bloc, Russia and Ukraine, North Africa, Syria, ISIS, mass immigration, security, economic stagnation, youth unemployment, illiberal mobilizations, xenophobia, identity politics, social inequalities, “the white working class,” cultural integration, negative interest rates, borders, a US presidency that appears to want to pulverize it: the list of simultaneous crises is nothing less than terrifying. A strong, coherent, and centralized state bureaucracy led by a solid government would be paralyzed confronted by a similar list of simultaneous threats. The EU is the opposite of such an apparatus and has never been furnished with the financial, fiscal, political, bureaucratic, and legal resources that would allow her to deal competently and effectively with any of these troubles, let alone with all of them at once. Thus, it muddles through by default, solving little, afraid even to put the issues in all honesty on the table, hesitantly kicking the can down the road. Its 60th birthday is an occasion for us to reflect on this singular experiment in transnational quasi-state forms: from the problems of national, multiple, and European identities to inequalities, exclusions, marginalities, neoliberalism, cosmopolitanism, global capitalism, and shifting borders.