Tag Archives: European Union

Cris Shore: What is a European?: Solidarity, symbols, and the politics of exclusion

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).

Earlier this year, a curious incident occurred in Auckland that ignited a heated debate over the meaning of the term “European.” A new student club calling itself the Auckland University European Students Association announced it was withdrawing its applications to affiliate to the university on the eve of the new semester’s orientation week. The withdrawal came after members of the club were threated with violence and accused by people both on and off campus of racism. This controversy erupted because of the images posted on the group’s website, including Celtic symbols used by US white supremacists and paintings depicting the unification of Germany. The group’s Facebook page included an image of Captain Cook and the motto “our pride is our honour and loyalty,” a phrase reminiscent of the Nazi SS slogan, “my honour is called loyalty.”

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Chris Hann: Beleaguered pseudo-continent: Happy birthday, Europe!

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).

Sixty this month, the European Union is almost as old as I am. Should we, in March 2017, celebrate a beacon of liberal-democratic sanity between the populists of Washington and London to the West and those of Ankara and Moscow to the East? Or is it time to pension off the construction launched with the Treaty of Rome in 1957, since it has come to violate basic desiderata of economic efficiency and equity, as well as democratic legitimacy?

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Thomas Hylland Eriksen: Norway and the transformation of the EU

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).

In Norway, the second referendum over EU membership in 1994 resulted in almost the exact same figures as the first one, back in 1972. The proposal to join the European Union—backed by the two largest parties (Labour and Conservatives), the main newspapers, and the private sector—was defeated, admittedly by a narrow margin—52 percent against 48 percent—but defeated nonetheless. I found myself in a tiny minority, as a left-of-center intellectual favorable to membership in the union, losing a few friends in the process. In Norway, leftist movements have been staunch nationalists for decades, and the very term “union” had unfortunate connotations in that it recalled the unpopular, enforced union with Sweden that lasted from 1814 to 1905. A widespread view also held that the EU was mainly an economic union whose sole beneficiaries were the already rich and powerful.

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Katharina Bodirsky: The UK voted out: Some reflections on European “unity in diversity”

Against the predictions of the last polls, a narrow majority of the UK voters decided to leave the EU. Once again, the political crisis of Europe has deepened. And once again, it does not seem as if this deepening of the crisis will force a fundamental reorientation of the “European project.”

In the following, I take issue with a mainstream framing of the crisis as one engendered by an atavistic nationalism that haunts the cosmopolitan present of Europe, a framing that directs attention away from the class character of European state-making of the past decades. If the EU is not to disintegrate, however, the latter has to be challenged.
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Theodoros Rakopoulos: Of direct and default democracy: The debt referendum in Greece

Thessaloniki, 4–5 July 2015

Default has a twofold meaning: it means both “taken for granted,” or the known path, and an economic halt on someone’s debts. Greece has recently oscillated between these two meanings. On the one hand, the Left government’s choice to go to the ballot for a referendum should have been a default choice of any democratic polity. It has faced fierce opposition, but eventually its advice to the electorate (“vote a decisive NO”) had huge influence among many—and triumphed, with an unprecedented landslide victory, at 61.5 percent. On the other, this choice has coincided with a default on the country’s debt to the IMF. There are threats it might lead, given Greece’s lenders’ pressure, to a generalized default situation and indeed an ousting out of the euro due to the lenders’ self-righteous policies. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced the referendum on 26 June, at 1:50 a.m. EET, to be held nine days after, on 5 July. The question would be whether the Greek citizens would accept the conditions for a bailout proposed by the troika (the EU Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF). The negotiations between the Eurogroup and the Greek government had ended up in a cul-de-sac.
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