Languages of Conflict: Ideas of Europe in European Memory

Dr. Félix Krawatzek

in cooperation with Dr. Gregor Feindt (Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz), Dr. Friedemann Pestel (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg), Dr. Rieke Trimçev (University of Greifswald)

The current crisis of the EU has fundamentally challenged how ‘Europe’ is being imagined. What citizens, politicians and scholars expect from Europe has shifted drastically with the refugee crisis, the ongoing economic and financial instability, Brexit, and the rise of populism. Yet, there is little awareness of what ‘Europe’ has come to mean over time, by different actors, and within and across countries. This project studies the ideas of Europe through the multi-faceted debates on ‘European Memory’ which have underpinned the European project since the 1990s and provided a crucial normative background for political and economic integration. Today’s diagnoses of crisis as well as claims on Europe’s further development bring forward competing, and at times contradictory images of a European past in order to make claims about Europe’s future.

This project employs a mixed-method approach of qualitative and quantitative discourse analysis to systematically analyse the languages which have sustained and pressured the Europeanisation of national memory discourses over the last decade. Six major European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, and the United Kingdom) serve as the main case studies. The following questions guide this research:

  • Which historical experiences are mobilised for the concept of Europe?
  • What kinds of political demands do actors articulate by drawing on the concept of Europe?
  • What logics constitute the languages of ‘European Memory’ across public spheres?
  • How do the conflictive languages in ‘European Memory’ deconstruct normative conceptions in favour of multifaceted relations of cores and peripheries within ‘Europe’?