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University of Thessaly Department of Planning and Regional Development Graduate Program in European Regional Development Studies Fall Semester, 2010-11.

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Presentation on theme: "University of Thessaly Department of Planning and Regional Development Graduate Program in European Regional Development Studies Fall Semester, 2010-11."— Presentation transcript:

1 University of Thessaly Department of Planning and Regional Development Graduate Program in European Regional Development Studies Fall Semester, Course: The Geography of European Integration: Economy, Society and Institutions Lecturers: Petrakos G., Camhis M., Kotios A., Topaloglou L., Bogiazides N.

2 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history «La difficulté de panser l’Europe, c’est de panser l’identité dans la non-identité» EDGAR MORIN

3 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history «La difficulté de panser l’Europe, c’est de panser l’identité dans la non-identité» EDGAR MORIN “ The difficulty with imagining/conceptualising/thinking of Europe, is that of imagining/conceptualising/ thinking of identity in the context of non-identity”

4 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history An overview of the European ‘cultural area’ in the course of history is best obtained through an examination of its expression in the ‘concept’ of Europe The concept’s emergence and development, permutations and complexity, as perceived through a contextual, European, historiographic approach, namely Hegel’s theory of history

5 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history Three Hegelian presuppositions: i) ‘truth is the rational’ (echoing Platonic monism ‘to err is multiple, but truth is one’) ii) events can be explained, they are not fortuitous iii) concepts develop dialectically, as transcendence of their negation GWF Hegel ( )

6 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history In this sense, the concept of Europe can be understood and rationally explained. It has evolved historically in opposition to its conjunctural perceived otherness. It proceeds dialectically rather than incrementally

7 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history Ex Oriente Lux Europe begins its long journey as a Phoenician princess and Minoan queen on the back of a bull, from the civilized East to, its opposite, the barbaric West

8 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history From mythological construct to mobilizatory concept For there would be no Europe without the Arabs and Charlemagne’s campaign to muster forces against them That early European empire was distinctly Christian and its rulers were referred to (up until 1713, in the Treaty of Utrecht) as the princes of Christendom Emperor Charlemagne ( )

9 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history Yet it is the Arabs who preserved ‘Christianity’s otherness’, the texts of the Greek classical authors and philosophers, as they discovered them in the remnants of the Library of Alexandria. They were translated into Arabic and brought to parts of Europe under Arab domination. And once the Moors were chased from the Iberian peninsula in 1492, it is often Jewish translators who, working in Catholic monasteries, translated them into Latin.

10 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history The concept of Europe proceeds in its journey though a Christian opposition to the Arabs, but meanders back in a challenge to the totalizing certainties of the Church through the texts of the Greeks. The Renaissance ante portas

11 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history The secular authority of the Church is here further challenged through the development of city states. From Florence and Venice to Bruges and Hamburg a new imperative is incorporated in the concept of Europe, that of the sovereignty of the urban citizenry.

12 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history Art is shifting from strict religious representations to a broader thematic canvass including scenes from antiquity and secular portraits of the aristocracy. Yet the negation of otherness does not imply its annihilation. Christian saints and Greek gods cohabit in harmony in all European art museums.

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14 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history The Reformation and opposition to aspects of official Catholicism adds to complexity. If the believer can enjoy direct access to the spiritual, so can he aspire to secular power. The secular world becomes his realm. Diderot’s precept that ‘man’s vocation is the control of nature’ enters the European conceptual arsenal. Humanism ante portas

15 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history While empiricism and idealism fight it out on European grounds, the concept of Europe is faced with striking otherness much further afield, as explorers and missionaries become its messengers in what they perceive as Dark Continents. In literature this shock of otherness is admirably recalled by Dafoe’s Crusoe and Shakespeare’ Prospero

16 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history Yet dreamers and demons, missionaries and merchants are soon left behind by the emergence of a new otherness that was to transform completely the Old Continent. For in the Industrial Revolution ‘all that is solid melts into air’

17 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history The city state is also replaced by a new historical subject that still holds sway today For the French Revolution set universalist imperatives. The nation state, bourgeois society and the private economy were to apply well beyond the bounds of Europe. Objection or recalcitrance towards them was met with imperialist conquest.

18 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history In the course of the twentieth century bourgeois orthodoxy met, of course, its own awesome otherness in the form of challenges by fascism and, more significantly given the potential of the new historic subject that it brought into being, socialism. Labour, the working class or the ‘conscious direct producer’ is now an inalienable component of the concept of Europe.

19 The European cultural area and a brief account of European history What the concept of Europe’s constituent components today, and Whither its course?


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