EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

Europeanization revisited. "Worlding Europe": outlines for a prospective research programme
Location U6-37
Date and Start Time 20 July, 2016 at 14:30
Sessions 2


  • Jens Adam (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) email
  • Shalini Randeria (IWM & Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Geneva) email

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Short Abstract

In this panel possibilities to re-define "Europe" as a field and object of anthropological study will be discussed. The main focus will lie on a new sense of reflecting Europe in relation to its world-making projects which, at the same time, produce the dynamics of its own making and unmaking.

Long Abstract

For about two decades anthropologists have explored "Europeanization" as "both a vision and a process" to make Europe "more European" (Borneman/Fowler 1997). Indispensable analytical perspectives - "from above", "from below", "from the margins" etc. - have been developed to investigate the "making of Europe" in concrete fields of practices and contestations. Nevertheless, the global entanglements that have shaped the continent in history as much as today have so far not been addressed sufficiently.

Against the backdrop of the increasingly visible fragility of the European present - which can clearly be affiliated to its often dismissed global embeddedness and dependencies - we want to integrate systematically postcolonial, global-anthropological and further critical perspectives into a future research programme, which could be titled "worlding Europe". The discussion and development of conceptual and methodological instruments for such a programme will take centre stage. We invite contributions addressing one of the following aspects:

- The global mobilisation of "European" political projects and systems of regulation and its effect;

- The conjunction of different "imperial formations" (colonial, state-socialist, ottoman, EU, etc.) in and outside Europe, especially taking "imperial debris" (Stoler 2013) as starting point of ethnographic inquiry;

- "Alternative entanglements" - for instance between state socialist localities and the Global South or current counter movements to dominant political narratives and projects - which cast another light on Europe as a "product and producer" of global realities.

Papers to further aspects are welcome as long as they contribute to the overall objective of the panel.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


"Decentering Europe": reconceptualizing the object of study of anthropological research on "Europeanization"

Authors: Jens Adam (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)  email
Regina Römhild (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)  email

Short Abstract

Putting Europe in the centre of critical research in order to simultaneously decenter it through a focus on its global entanglements and power relations, on its internal fractures and marginalizations.

Long Abstract

"Decentering Europe" is the headword of one effort to re-direct anthropological research on Europe, which we will discuss in our paper. This approach reacts to a perceived double gap: on the one hand anthropological research on "Europeanization" has not yet integrated systematically the global entanglements of the continent in its research agenda; on the other hand post-colonial study has so far rather avoided "Europe" as a proper object of its research. Consequently "decentering Europe" proposes to include post-colonial positions into the anthropological research on "Europe" as well as to partly "europeanize" post-colonial research.

From this perspective "Europe" comes into view as a heterogeneous, multiple and uncompleted formation, which cannot be narrowed to the emergences and policies of the European Union. In fact it is equally positioned in the world through the less visible interwoven genealogies of its discourses, through its mobilities and migrations, as well as through counter-hegemonial initiatives and imaginations of European alternatives. In our paper we will concentrate on the consequences of this approach: i) for the conceptualization of "Europe" as an object of study; ii) for the further development and reorientation of the more established anthropological research traditions on "Europe" and "Europeanization"; iii) and for empirical research strategies. As overall aim of our paper we will discuss how this approach can contribute to the development of "worlding Europe" as a prospective research programme.

The object of Europe: artefacts, collections, and the idea of Europe

Author: Oscar Salemink (University of Copenhagen)  email

Short Abstract

Predicated on the idea that Europe is a modern historical construct that emerged around 1500, this paper explores the historical and contemporary fragility of the idea of Europe through an ethnographic investigation of collections of art objects and other cultural artifacts in and outside “Europe”.

Long Abstract

The idea and subsequent delimitation of Europe is arguably a modern historical construct emerging at the time when the seafaring states in what is now western Europe turned to the Atlantic and "discovered" other continents. This encounter necessitated the demarcation of their own continent (Europe), by turning the Mediterranean - the Mare Nostrum at the heart of the Roman empire - from a zone of connection into a border. And in 1730, Swedish geographer Von Strahlenberg cartographically separated Europe from the Asian landmass along the Urals, making it the only continent that is territorially contiguous with another. Although the historically recent idea of Europe - as continent, as civilization, as social imaginary, as transnational territorial institution - has been naturalized within Europe, it is increasingly challenged at its margins by the aspiration of the successor state of the Ottomans to join the EU; by the flow of refugees from Africa and the Middle East across the Mediterranean; and by "hybrid wars" west of the Urals over whether Ukraine belongs to Europe. In this paper I will sketch a research program that explores the historical and contemporary fragility of the idea of Europe through an ethnographic investigation of collections of art objects and other cultural artifacts in and outside "Europe".

Europeanization and transnational memories: of scale and the museums of Europe

Author: Chiara De Cesari (University of Amsterdam)  email

Short Abstract

This paper reflects on the Europeanization of museums by examining the ways in which older museums are transformed into museums of Europe and the geopolitical imaginaries (re)produced in their exhibitions.

Long Abstract

In this paper, I investigate the making of two new museums of Europe, Marseille’s Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations and Berlin’s Museum of European Cultures. In particular, I focus on the kinds of “Europe” envisioned in their exhibitions. I argue that these museums represent an important site—beyond the institutional contours of the EU—where the geopolitical imaginary of a bounded Europe, and ideas about the proper place of its borders, are produced, even if by default. I also investigate the creeping Europeanization of museums by exploring how these two older national museums of folklore tap into circulating institutional narratives of Europe and mobilize a transnational memory and heritage in a strategic way so as to remake themselves and their dusty displays. National competition and cooperation as well as national memory projects play an important role in such memorial Europeanization, which is often championed by local and national actors in the pursuit of their agendas, for example, to have their museums survive at a time of generalized cuts in state budgets for culture. This insight complicates taken-for-granted understandings of scale in memory and museum studies.

Relational versus integral epistemology of world-making Europe

Author: Cicilie Fagerlid (University of Oslo)  email

Short Abstract

As an approach to globally entangled Europe, this paper proposes an investigation into contrasting epistemologies of self, society and civilisation. Wolf’s and Ingold’s notions of relations and entanglement, and Holmes’ inquiries into the bounded, essentialist ‘integral Europe’ serve as inspiration

Long Abstract

The gold that you stole/The pillage and the plunder/Is it any wonder that we're here? [..] We're only here cause you were there/Consequence of your global pillage/Yeah, here in England/A global village ('Debris' from Facts and Fiction, Asian Dub Foundation1995)

In 'Debris', Asian Dub Foundation epitomises a worldview I recognise from fieldwork among descendants of postcolonial immigrants in France and Britain (Fagerlid 2001; 2012). This worldview provides them with an explicit sense of European entitlement, although their lives are often marked by the "indelible smack of degraded personhoods, occupied spaces, and limited possibilities" of imperial formations and debris (reference to Fanon in Stoler 2008: 195).

A political consciousness is but one expression entangled Europe takes among the 'second generation' and many of their contemporaries in convivial, cosmopolitan urban neighbourhoods (Cf. Gilroy 2004). The mixing of cultural expressions and traditions in music, poetry and ways of life is another. In certain parts of European cities, whole neighbourhoods incorporate relational Europe (Fagerlid 2012). This postcolonial Europe becomes thus clear expressions of the bundles of relationships Eric Wolf proposes as theoretical as well as empirical perspective on societies (1997 [1982]).

In diametrical contrast to this relational ontology of self and society exists an increasingly(?) 'integral' (Holmes 2000) epistemology (Bateson 1972) of identity, society and European history, which I think would have been interesting to explore as part of research programme on world-making Europe.

Translation as conceptual topology: relationality in 'worlding Europe' and anthropological practice

Author: Kelly Mulvaney (Leuphana University Lueneburg)  email

Short Abstract

As a conceptual topology, “translation” can contribute to a renewed approach to “Europe” in anthropology, one capable of grappling with the radically postcolonial present. The argument is developed with ethnographic reflection on attempts to redefine Europe in transnational anti-austerity movements.

Long Abstract

Historical studies of translation in anthropology have demonstrated its powerful role as a repertoire of ideologically-mediated practices through which equivalences and difference were constructed in ways that secured colonial rule (cf. Cohn 1996). Language ideologies and definitions of time and space have been central in the development of what Herzfeld (2003) calls the 'global hierarchy of value', according to which 'Europe' is measure.

The insight that knowledge regimes inform translational practices by setting the coordinates around which relationality is constructed provides a rich point of departure for re-considering Europe in the postcolonial/postsocialist global conjuncture, in which spatiotemporal boundaries and relations are destabilized and subject to new negotiation. Attending to translation means accounting for these epistemic coordinates of relationality, as an ethnographic object, as a mode of inhabiting the role as ethnographer, and in the representational dimension of ethnographic practice.

These claims are thickened through a discussion of ethnographic study in transnational anti-austerity networks. Anthropologists of Europe and anti-austerity activists in Europe pose similar questions. Digital communication, mobility and migration mean that global knowledge circulates through 'European' networks. What gets translated and how comes to constitute what is rendered possible in a locality that translation also demarcates. Tracing how European utopian imaginaries with Enlightenment ideological coordinates overtrump, mix with, or are challenged by decolonial knowledges and practices in activist realities not only contributes to an anthropology of knowledge regimes, but also provides points for reflection of the reflexivity and role of the ethnographer. Might re-thinking Europe also require re-thinking anthropological practice?

Europe as cultural fact: post and crypto-colonialism in Cyprus

Author: Federico Cavalleri (Università di Milano-Bicocca)  email

Short Abstract

An attempt to underline the connections between the flows of globalisation and the image of EU through the analysis of the post and crypto-colonial relationship of Greek Cypriots with Greece and the UK.

Long Abstract

The aim of my paper is to propose a redefinition of Europe as an ethnographic object through Appadurai's concept of "future as cultural fact" (Appadurai 2014). In the last few years Europe has been seen as the goal of the process of Europeanisation, in other words, as the outcome of a negotiation between two (or more) different actors normally staying in a relation of hierarchy, either in terms of centre-periphery or top-down. This theoretical approach fails in understanding that the EU is a matter-of-fact presence in the daily life of nearly 500 millions of people, who consider it as a significant element of their "good life" project (Appadurai 2014). From my perspective, Europe should be seen as part of the whole of globalisation flows filling the imagination of Europeans, as one of the main knots in which the global flows of culture, images and ideas are entangled. Therefore, the meaning of being European in a globalised world can be understood only by investigating the relationship between Europe and other symbols as modernity, development, national or ethnic identity etc. This issue will be discussed starting from an ethnographic example taken from the research I carried out in Cyprus (2013); through this example Cyprus's both post-colonial relationship with the UK and its crypto colonial one (Herzfeld 2003) with Greece will be analysed, in order to show the role of the two imagined motherlands of Greek Cypriots in shaping their image of Europe and the European Union.

Europe in (times of) Crisis: tracing the un/making of Europe through migration and ‘entrapment’ at the Southeast EU borders

Author: Evropi Chatzipanagiotidou (Queen's University Belfast)  email

Short Abstract

By focusing on contemporary Greek migration to Cyprus, the paper examines the concepts of ‘entrapment’ and ‘crisis’ together in order to conclude as to whether the relationship between the two can be theorised to be used as a diagnostic tool for studying historical and socio-political articulations and contestations of ‘Europeanization’.

Long Abstract

Building on anthropological theorisations of im/mobilties and movement, the paper diverts attention to ‘entrapment’ both as a social experience and analytical term through the study of contemporary Greek migration to Cyprus in the context of the ongoing economic crisis in Europe.

By looking at current and historical socio-economic articulations of Europeanization (and its crises), the paper asks whether and how these broader processes affect and interact with migrants’ experiences and decisions. Such ethnographic focus can potentially capture and provide a better understanding of how some migratory movements in the margins of Europe are formed and shift and what effects these movements have on the complex and long-standing relations between Greece and Cyprus as experienced, imagined and constructed in official discourses, public debates and individual narratives. Moreover, the chapter investigates to what extent these processes demarcate shifting relationships with and discourses about the state and the EU in the region that could construct alternative visions to established national, ethnic and political identities.

Ultimately, the very concepts of ‘entrapment’ and ‘crisis’ are being examined together and interrogated in order to conclude as to what we define historically as ‘times of crisis’ and whether the relationship between the two can be theorised to be used as a diagnostic tool for studying historical and socio-political articulations and contestations of ‘Europeanization’.

Redefining Europe: the role of the anthropology of postsocialism in this process

Author: Alina Ioana Branda (Faculty of European Studies, Babes-Bolyai University)  email

Short Abstract

My paper aims to approach the contributions of anthropological analyzes on post- socialism to the process of crystallizing nowadays perspectives in the broader, integrative domain of Anthropology of Europe.

Long Abstract

I aim to address how and why the anthropological understandings on post-socialism have had a certain role in the process of defining post 1989-1990 Europe. Focusing on the later decades developments in the anthropology of post- socialism, and largely, in the anthropology of Europe, I attempt to formulate adequate research questions, considering at least part of these processes. What are the meanings and the goals of exploring post-socialism nowadays, in the current European and global contexts? Does this approach contribute to a better understanding of recent processes of Europeanization? To what extents the historical divides West - East in the framework of Europe had a contribution to the nowadays fragility of Europe? Is this dichotomy totally abandoned nowadays or does it rather have a peculiar form? What kind of role should the anthropologists have in dismantling these perspectives? Conducting fieldwork, working on different topics especially after 1996 in the framework of the internal/"native" anthropology of post-socialism in Romania (in Transylvania in particular), I attempt to respond to these questions using my research experiences as an important source.

I also aim to discuss critically the concept of "anthropology at home" and to analyze its limits and inconveniences nowadays. Permanently, I address questions on the applicability, validity, limits and necessary reformulations of "post-socialism" as concept today, considering the very rapid changes of the European societies. In these contexts, new topics are on the agenda, waiting to be approached, integrated in a reviewed perspective.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.