The Other in European History and Politics

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Course Description: 

In 2012, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the European Union its famed Peace Prize for having advanced the causes of “peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights” over the course of seventy years. Today, the very Union appears under threat, as numerous fault-lines caused by the pressures of resurgent nationalism, economic stagnation, increased migration and myriad other issues appear to be widening and deepening with each passing day, embodied most notably in Great Britain’s decision to leave the EU altogether. Understandably, the question of “European unity” has become a much discussed topic in recent times. Less discussed, but perhaps even more fundamental, is the very question as to what “Europe” itself means and the implications our understanding(s) of “Europeanness” has for contemporary politics. This course focuses on the development of the concept of Europe as much as an idea as a political and social reality both in history and today. In particular, the course looks at the centrality of “othering” in the construction of European identity over the ages. As Gerard Delanty has written, “the discourse of Europe is ambivalent in that it is not always about unity and inclusion, but is also about exclusion and the construction of difference based on norms of exclusion.” At its core, the course is concerned with the discourses and practices of identity formation as it relates to the notion of Europe and in particular the ways in which Europe is defined as much by that which it is not as by that which it is. The course will help the student learn to think critically about how European identity has developed as normative concept and the consequences this development has had on contemporary society and politics.

Learning Outcomes: 

• to develop a nuanced understanding of identity formation as explored by various academic fields of study, particularly within the disciplines of History and International Relations. 

• to be able to identify and compare different kinds of “othering” in the context of Europe and the European project.

• to learn how to draw on historical and other methodologies to inform our understanding of contemporary issues in international relations.

• to apply this knowledge to the development of academic research projects.