When HAU was launched, my grad students at Central European University were celebrating. Open access! Finally, a breach in the wall that separated the haves from the have-nots. Their local universities in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe hardly had the resources to pay for these Western journals offered at extortionate prices by the likes of Elsevier, Springer, Oxford, Chicago. Indeed, even CEU did not have sufficient means to pay all the subscriptions that scholars were asking for. Now the have-nots would finally have unlimited access. More, the HAU journal preached what it imagined itself to embody: self-conscious intellectual revolution in the apparently newly found horizontalist mode: Occupy anthropology! For the intellectual assertion of the commons! My rightly rebellious students loved it. And went on producing some great open access undertakings—but not in academia—that helped to feed the ongoing mobilizations in their countries (most prominently: http://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast). They had all my support while we continued to disagree about HAU.
This post is part of a feature on anthropologists on the EU at 60, moderated and edited by Don Kalb (Central European University and University of Bergen).
The EU commemorates its 60th birthday today (25 March 2017), at a time when the institution is more contested than ever. The 1957 Treaty of Rome was an indisputable step toward undergirding the Western part of the continent of Europe with a set of international institutions that would help to secure peace, prosperity, and shared social citizenship—the sort of internationalism that had been urged by the likes of Keynes and Monnet long before the war. This happened against a historical background of half a century of deep, recurrent crisis, escalating class conflict, rivalry, and revenge that had unleashed industrialized destruction on an unprecedented scale. Without any irony, therefore, two loud cheers, please, for the Treaty of Rome and what it sought to secure. This is the basis of what majorities on the continent still like to imagine, defend, and wish to become part of, as their common and cherished symbolic home.