The limits and possibilities of a European identity: a critique of cultural essentialism

Delanty, Gerard (1995) The limits and possibilities of a European identity: a critique of cultural essentialism. Philosophy and Social Criticism, 21 (4). pp. 15-36. ISSN 01914537

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During the Cold War period European identity was largely secured by the notion of the West; despite its lofty ideals it was a Cold War construct shaped and defined by the global confrontation of capitalism and communism. Europe was secure in its identity as the eastern frontier of the United States. Today, however, European identity is being redefined, but the terms of its redefinition are uncertain. With the collapse of the old bi-polar constructs of West versus East, the European idea is becoming the focus for a new struggle for hegemony in what is coming to be increasingly recognized as a multi-polar world.
The problem I address in this article is the normative foundations of European identity. More fundamentally this is related to the question whether we in fact need a European identity, particularly if this is to be another totalising idea in the grand style of Christendom, the West, Modernity, the Nation. Integral to this critique is a concern with the possibility of post-national collective identity as the basis of a new kind of identity. Is European identity just another ideological construct in the increasingly international stage of politics? Or does it represent a genuine attempt to come to terms with the problem of the crisis of identity in the modern polity?

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Depositing User: Gerard Delanty
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:29
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2012 08:33
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