Accepted Paper:

Governance of or through culture: cultural policy and the making of Europe  


Banu Karaca (Forum Transregionale Studien)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how the persistence of ‘culture talk’ has played into the formation of a European cultural policy and interrogates the type of governance that this formation entails as pressing political issues such as European integration have been relayed from realm of social and economic policy to that of culture.

Paper long abstract:

In the framework of the European Union, culture has been identified both as an obstacle to European integration and as a means to transcend this very obstacle. Recent arts and culture funding initiatives that have the professed goal of fostering cultural co-operation and exchange speak to conceptualizations in which cultural production is presented as vital for Europeanization. However, the formation of a European cultural policy has proven difficult, partly because of the Union's proclaimed principle to grant its member states cultural sovereignty, and because 'cultural dialogue' and 'artistic exchange' programs tend to reproduce power differentials within the EU and beyond, intentions to the contrary.

This paper interrogates the emergence of European cultural policy against the backdrop of the democratic deficit frequently diagnosed within the EU, and the sharpening economic disparities within and between member states - and proposes that the turn to culture is neither a mere veiling of the pursuit of economic gains from cultural goods nor a solely discursive feat. Instead current EU cultural policy represents a shift in governance; one that increasingly deflects pressing political issues such as immigration and integration into the realm of culture, rather than that of social justice for instance.

Based on ethnographic observations in the arts worlds of Berlin and Istanbul this paper aims to elucidate the parameters of this nascent European cultural policy and the type of governance that appears to emerge out of the conjoining of an array of divergent efforts from artist, cultural producers, policy makers and nongovernmental institutions.

Panel W055
Critical perspectives on the persistence of 'culture talk' in the making of Europe