The first of his numerous books, Inventing Europe: Idea, Identity, Reality was a significant, timely and challenging contribution to the European discourse. Almantas Samalavicius asks Delanty to revisit the ideas set forward in this thought-provoking, polemical work. The Lithuanian translation appeared in and since then it has been frequently quoted and referred to in academic discussions on a wide range of issues about the past, present and the future of Europe — which, as we all know, has become rather vague and somewhat confused. Do you feel that you need to reconsider or develop any of its claims beyond the original scope of your concerns? Gerard Delanty: Despite its success, the book has some shortcomings; indeed, these shortcomings are probably the reason for its success.
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Its challenging thesis is that the European idea has lent itself to a politics of division and exclusion, which has been disguised by superficial notions of unity. In terms of argument, Delanty posits that 'Europe' as an idea was constructed through an othering of non-Europeans, such as Muslims, Jews or Russians.
Whilst this is convincing, it is also little that is new to us, even in the s when the piece was written, and hasn't been new to us since Said. Delanty argues that Europe must now throw off nationalist individualism and embrace the cosmopolitan According to him, the idea of Europe has created the reality of Europe, meanwhile the realities have constructed to contribute to the European idea. So, we can infer from this argument that Delanty supports the theory of social constructivism. Europe is both social and cultural constructed subject.
During the construction process of the European identity two models of collective identity occur: 1 exclusivist and formal notion and 2 notion based on solidarity and participation. This two tangled ramification is based on the clash between unity and construction of difference, and inclusion and exclusion.
Actually, the idea of Europe can be normative basis of collective identity on the condition that the idea is focused on new notion of citizenship, which is exacerbated by the process of invention. Within this context, the unity of European tradition is a pervasive assumption underlying contemporary visions of Europe.
The roots of its cultural foundation reaching out of Latin Christendom, humanist values and liberal democracy. Also, Delanty adds to this arguement that if the idea is used as normative concept, the critical reflection is a necessary thing to strengthen the construction. As we know from the school of social constructivism, ideas are products of history. Since the European history is full of conflicts, the European idea is a product of more conflicts rather than consensuses.
This product is connected to the state tradition and elite cultures, which caused the main conflicts of the continent. Therefore, social dimension is necessary for the construction of European integration, otherwise the idea of Europe would be dominated by nationalists and bureaucrats, as we saw in the sample of the Holocaust as a failure of modernity.
Orientalism, Islam, communism vs. At first, Christianity became the territorial identity of medieval Europe, then Europe was invented in distorted Modernity in parallel with Enlightenment, Renaissance, Dual Revolution, Nationalism, Anti-Semitism.
In terms of the historical projection; the universalization idea is under a constant threat of fragmentation from forces within the European society, in a unifying theme in a cultural framework of values. Delanty highlights that Europe is an invention, and he stresses its construction in a historian process.
So, Europe is a less subject, more product of history. Scientists, engineers, and technologists who have knowledge, expertise, or skills, would compose the governing body, instead of politicians, businessmen, and economists. Europe is constructed with strategic goals, and the reality of it designates is also used strategically. Delanty states that Europe is a structuring force and cannot be reduced to an idea, an identity or a reality.
Even though Europe is both an idea and identity at the same time, Europe became first cultural idea and then a self-conscious political identity.
Moreover, it remained tied to ethnocultural values which had a reifying effect on collective identities. The idea failed to become cohesive, collective identity — instead of European configurations of national identities formed. Therefore, the European identity is a form of consciousness. In the book, there are three levels of analysis in the theory of the invention of Europe: 1 The idea of Europe is a cultural model of society focus for collective identities , that idea can be seen as a collective or social representation containing a heterogeneity of cultural frameworks, 2 Social representations serve as regulative ideas for the formation of collective identities, 3 Ideologies: when cultural ideas become part of political-identity.
According to Delanty, the definitions of ideology are 1 a comprehensive system of thoughts, 2 a programme for the future, 3 a political doctrine for the mobilisation of the masses.
Identities become vehicles for the reproduction of dominant ideologies. The concept of other is crucial to construct self-belonging identity of a group of people. Moreover, for the sake of their interests, the efforts in colonialism and conquest have contributed to unify Europe, rather than the efforts to keep peace and solidarity.
Actually, the history tells us that the idea of Europe collapses when it becomes hegemonic. These models are clashing in practice in the borders of Europe. In the Western front, the ideas are tend to expand, reversely, the Eastern front is the frontier of defense. Today, there is no tradition of Europe yet, it is still in construction process. The question of Europe facing today is whether the universal ethical principles are embodied or included in the European culture.
In fact, the European modernity is supposed to be the agent of universality. However, there is a gap between the notions of plurality and difference.
The differences among the citizens, most of the time the notions of otherness, test the discourse of the European civilisation which is constructed on the shoulders of Christendom, Enlightenment and the liberal values. The History of the Idea of Europe This book is a strikingly readable treatment of the history of the idea of Europe. There are three essays by different authors, logically divided into the era prior to , the period from to , and the post-war era.
Each section is well written, readable, and contains fresh perspectives. However, the last essay covers only until the early to mid's. It would be much better, if it had a chapter four to bring things up to date, as Europe continues to evolve. Issues around immigration, for instance, are not treated, nor the various European military commitments like the Bosnian War.
On the other hand, the reader is left wanting more. The main argument of the book is there have been and are many Europes by showing us the historical evolution of the continent. In each era and in different places in the continent, we can see various definitions of what Europe is and what elements are able to unite European people. The standing ground of the book is it approaches the topic from number of points of view, and raises questions as we go about how Europe has been conceptualised, organized, structured and utilised, both in the past and present.
That three essays of the book cover a wide spectrum. They deal various ideas of Europe in the past and present; with different aspects of everyday life and associated tensions making for cultural uniformity or accentuating cultural difference: with a political culture founded on public opinion, law and democracy. It was not until the beginning of the nineteenth century that this idea, as a result of a new outlook on the nature and origins of Europe, came to have clear outlines.
It is in particular the French Revolution that marks the watershed in thinking about Europe. It was a notion that consisted of a plurality of conflicting interpretations of Europe, each drawing on a specific set of historical references. In the third essay, sometimes apparently similar events can produce quite opposite effects.
The First World War left the idea of common-European or universal-values in crisis. Taken together the three essays in the book range over the idea of Europe from the politics of ancient Greece to the mid s plans for economic and political union.
During its evolution process, the concept of Europe can be said to have evolved at two levels and around two broad themes: on the one hand Europe and its others external discriminators , and on the other hand Europe as a commonwealth of nations, a Europe of shared political, social and religious values, of an affinity in diversity constituting a synthesis internal characteristics.
According to the general argument of the book, the description of Europe is that of unity in diversity. Europe is presented as the continent that never controlled by a single ruler, that never made culture uniform, that never settled for final truths, that kept questioning, debating, remaining self critical through generating a unique dynamism.
It is very ironic that the reality of Europe contains no singular European essence, also, it demonstrates that there is no stable core, no fixed identity, no final answer. Comparison of The Books Each book has a similar pursuit of paving the way to discover how the European continent have provided to establish its unifying idea which is the first step of creating an identity, or in other point of view, the books tests there is even one singular created idea to unify people of the continent.
According to the geo-historical facts, there has been no single idea to establish the identity of Europe. That two books argues that the roots of the European idea reaches from ancient Greek reasoning phenomena to Roman law to Christendom to liberal democratic values. In practice, the idea of Europe is actually a historical accumulation of that heaps of thought. Even though that two books have the same main argument, which is there is no single idea of Europe and it is still in evolution process, each has specific way of telling.
Delanty emphasises more the general theoretical perspectives of historical turning points, and in his book, the geopolitical facts are highly important. On the other side, in the second book, the influencer persons overweights the geopolitics of Europe, according to given historical facts, and the book utilizes some images such as maps, subjects of cultural heritage etc. Consequently, that two books have the same standpoint to explain the idea of Europe is an unfinished constructed phenomena, and it is an ever-going evolution process to unify people of Europe by providing them a specific strong feeling which belongs to the European continent.
Even though they have some differences in the way of telling the phenomena, their common aim is to academically analyse the historical evolution process of the idea of Europe in terms of social, economic, geopolitical, philosophical outputs. Related Papers. Enlargement and Expansion of a modern identity in the 18th and 19th Century. By Aris Chiotelis. The Limits and Possibility of a European Identity. By gerard delanty. European Identity Beyond the Nation-State. Plurality and Inclusion for a New Democratic Space.
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Shifting shapes of Europe
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