Multi-Ethnicity and the Idea of Europe

Theory, Culture and Society 21 (2):1-24 (2004)
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This article explores the meaning and relevance of the ‘Idea of Europe’ in the context of a multicultural and multi-ethnic continent that increasingly draws on the presence and practices of people from non-European backgrounds. The Idea of Europe, even in its contemporary use, remains an ideal based on a Christian-Enlightenment-Romantic heritage, mobilized by supporters of European integration as the bridge between diverse European national cultures. In a Europe of extraordinary cultural interchange and immigration from all corners of the world, the classical Idea of Europe is strikingly exclusionary and backward looking – a poor motif for the future. The article tries to develop an alternative Idea of Europe, one based on a particular politics of the public domain and a particular ethos of belonging in Europe seen as a migrant space, rather than one based on the enduring cultural values of a body of people called Europeans. It outlines a commons, protected by appropriate EU-level rights, that can both support and bind cultural pluralism and difference, and it proposes democratic vitalism as Europe’s core political project, an idea of becoming European, read as the process of never-settled cultural invention resulting from the vibrant clashes of an equal and empowered multiple public. No myth of origin, no myth of destination, only the commitment to a plural demos.



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The Cosmopolitan Society and Its Enemies.Ulrich Beck - 2002 - Theory, Culture and Society 19 (1-2):17-44.
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