From Periphery to Center. The Image of European Union at the Eastern Border of Europe
No. 2892 – 2012
Aims and objectives:
Europe is a mosaic of stacked „realities” where collaboration domains dissolve the meaning of the borders. These stacked cultural realities show the emergent domains which allow the reintegration of the European societies. These stacked domains are the foundation of the development of the cooperation and of new forms of belonging to Europe as a mosaic of stacked identities.
It is impossible to define Europe. Paul Valéry described Europe as „a small promontory of the Asian continent.” In other words, it is a myth that Europe is a continent, other than Asia. Or that Asia ends and Europe begins? Is it possible for a continent that is slightly larger than a promontory to have borders? By the end of the Cold War, in the perspective of many Western Europeans, Europe ended at the „Iron Curtain”. In the perspective of Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary, the essence of Europe was held in the traditions of the civil society, of the democracy and of the Roman Catholicism.
The result was that Central Europe migrated to the East, to the borders of Asia, being increasingly driven to Turkey and Russia. But this is only a political and cultural definition of the continent.
After the collapse of communism and European Union enlargement through inclusion of large parts of the old Eastern European countries, the terms of Central and Eastern were reinvented. The most notable example is the revival of the idea of a Central Europe, which is no more an extended and central part of the European Union. The result is that Eastern Europe was pushed more to the East. Given the fact that Eastern European countries included in the Eastern Europe area are looking themselves for the status of European Union’s member states (some, such as Ukraine and Belarus, are closely linked to Russia, which is further East than they are), the notions of East and West loose their traditional reference and they are abandoned when it comes to Europe. For Balkans, a new East-West direction can be observed after the division of Yugoslavia. Countries like Slovenia and Croatia are attached to a position dominated by the Western Roman Catholic and liberal tradition, distinguished from a Serbia that belongs to oriental tradition. Regarding the West-East competition, it is interesting to note that the Muslim populations in Bosnia and Kosovo were allied with liberal West, therefore suggesting that the identification of the East with Islam is not as fixed as people may think.
Taking into account these considerations and from the perspective of renegotiating the nowadays borders, there is a certain logic in the definition of Europe as a border itself. Robert Bartlett shown that Europe was created in a continuous process of colonization and extending to the border regions.
Borders and boundaries of Europe were possible only in relation to the proximity to other centers, in a history of changing relations between centers and peripheries. Europe, as its limits, is a discursive construction. Where Europe ends is a question, but where European Union needs to end it is a quite different political matter, as William Wallace remarked.
The implication of this analysis is that Europe, becoming what Castells names a „network society”, has entered a period in which borders become a more complicated configuration. The „Network society” is a society where networks replace ranks and the borders are being dissolved into a democratic type of regions, the argument proposed here is that networks establish new forms of borders and create more frontiers.
Various types of borders have separated the European continent, especially between East and West. The Eastern border took many shapes and had a quite big influence in geopolitical and identity configuration of Europe.
This type of borders that separate East from West was imaginary perceived increasingly stronger since the eighteenth century, fact illustrated by various French, Italian or Austrian missionaries, diplomats and military men, who crossed the Eastern European area either from Baltic Sea to the Carpathians and Black Sea or from West to East, towards St. Petersburg and Moscow, Iaşi and Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi or towards Bucharest and Constantinople.
- Stalked realities and areas of cooperation at the eastern border of the European Union
- Diversity and interconnection in Europe
- The meaning of the term new frontier: European Borders vs. European Union borders
Network societies – definition and importance
In order to get the best results, we propose to divide the module into three lectures and seminars:
- Intercultural Dialogue at the EU Eastern Border
- Diversity and Interconnection at the EU Eastern Border
- European Societies and Border Identities
The pedagogical methods will be the following: debates on bibliography provided and case studies; the students will have to identify the key points and draw the conclusions; inviting professionals (a methods seldom used in Romania); simulations of EU external policy decision-making; research projects, either collective or individual; role-play by staging hypothetical situations regarding the need to develop dialogue and put aside prejudices and discrimination.
As far as conferences are concerned, there will be organised several debate workshops focused on different yet connected topics. At each conference, specialists will be invited to deliver conferences to students at our faculty. On the other hand, it is already a tradition in Oradea to invite local media in order to disseminate the information. Thus, local and national community will be informed on the evolution of European concerns by researchers and the staff of our university, intellectual elite highly involved in issues relating to European integration.
The summer school will be an interactive field trip involving practical activities, visits to places with historical and political importance, ethnic, religious specific features, exchange of opinions and debates on case studies.