A critical analysis of the idea of Europe and the limits and possibilities of a European identity in the broader perspective of Inventing Europe Delanty, Gerard. I{ETlllNKlNC IRTSH HISTORy (with patrick O’Mahony). Inventing Europe. Idea, Identity, Reality. Gerard Delanty. Senior LÄ›crurer in Sociology. U niversity of Liver . Inventing Europe: Idea, Identity, Reality, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke,

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If this is so, then a European identity, unless it is to be a contradiction in terms, could only be formed on the basis of intractable disunity and the democratic plu- ralism that this entails. It is even possible that the Greeks were more strongly aware of the world being structured on a north-south axis, from light and heal to darkness and cold, than on a west-east polarity. TheTssue then is one of diversity or divi- a sion: It must not be forgotten that the nation-state is also not the unified and autonomous enti- ty it is often portrayed to be, but is characterised by the same divisions with which Europe is often equated.

The notion of the Occident first referred to the eastern Mediterranean 2 1 Inventing Europe world and was not identical to the idea of Europe, which had less meaning as a cultural idea. The new critical dimension it brings to debates on the limits and possibilities of a European identity will make it indispensable to those working in the area of European studies and intellectual history.

The idea of Europe when it did emerge was embedded in Christendom having become virtually coterminous with the notion of the Occident, which preceded the idea of Europe. These developments amount- ed to a general widening of the frontiers of Europe in the form of expansion of the French civilisation. The idea of Europe was mostly derived from ‘above’ and not from ‘below’ in concrete forms of life and political struggles.

A Theoretical Introduction I 2. The hostility of the eastern empire to Christendom was enhanced by the crusades. This sense of western and Christian superiority is expressed in some of the early ideas of Europe. Identities become pathological once they lake on the character of a dominant ideology and the individual can no longer chose his or her identity. Europe became identical with the notion of a Christian common- wealth, with the emphasis being on the north-west.

Inventing Europe: Idea, Identity, Reality

There are also a num- ber of books that deal with the question of the historicaUrontiers of E urope Halecki, ; Toynbee, ; M cNeil, ; Webb, Uygar Karal rated it really liked it Mar 02, The impor- tance of the crusades is that they inventiny the formation of an ethno-culturally homogenising identity, which subsequently became a core component of European identity.

This is illustrated by the fact than in the thirteenth century there had been consider- able contact between Europe and the Orient. For over a thousand eelanty the sycophants at Rome succeeded in maintaining the dualism of civilisation ver- sus barbarism as an antithesis between Christians and infidels. The idea of Europe, which began to take on a proto-political form in the Age of Alexander, served to mystify the territories of the Macedonian con- quests by bestowing upon them the identity of a distinct geographical entity.


In this period western Europe was undermined by a process of frag- mentation resulting from population movement and the decline of the Roman Empire. Bede, in his Incenting History, suggests that Uerope is separate from Europe.

Castoriadis has written abouTrfie function of the ‘imaginary’ in the constitution of society. A Theoretical Introduction 3 tive identity as residing inventjng the contents of culture or the project of modernity as the unfolding of the great promises of the Enlightenment, a notion that has been formulated by Gorbachevpp. As a cultural framework Europe became the 30 The Westernisation of Europe 31 normative idea of a civilisation that was in the process of expanding over- seas, but as the name of that civilisation’s geographical territory it was faced with the problem that a considerable pan lay under Ottoman suzerainty.

Inventing Europe – G. Delanty – Google Books

The encounter of Roman civilisation with the Orient did not always amount to the same clash of cultures that resulted when the Romans annexed Europe north of the Alps. Respon- sibility for errors of fact and judgement of course remains mine.

The crusaders retained the political identity of their europ kingdoms but their collective identity was that of Christian pilgrims taking the cross and sword.

Its age had passed and in it suffered a double defeat, one by the Turks at Mantzikcrt and the other by the Normans, the ascending power in the West, who had taken Bari, one of the principal terard of Byzantine Italy. Today, more than ever before, the discourse of Europe is taking on a invsnting ly ideological character.

Unifying myths of integration should be viewed I with scepticism unless they unambivalcntly accommodate diversity. It was a siege mentality, an identity born in defeat, not in victory.

It was this latter notion of the Occident or West that provided continuity between Hellenism, Christendom and the idea of Europe. From the tenth century onwards in the wake of the break-up of the Carolingian empire the restored Roman empire, under Otto I, shifted to Germany and away from the east Franks.

[ Gerard Delanty] Inventing Europe 1995

This possibly may have been because Greek culture after Alexander the Great was no longer the property of the Greeks. Given that most slaves were Asiatic, it was not surprising thai Aristotle expressed contempt for Asia and regarded barbarians, that is non-Greeks, in the same light as slaves Puzzo,p.

The feudal states that the crusaders set up did not stand the test of time and by the late thirteenth century their lands were recovered by Muslims, with Delwnty, the last Christian slate in the Holy Land, falling in While there are many hooks on nationalism, racism and fas- cism in the broader perspective of eurole, there is no systematic and criti- cal study of the idea of Europe in relation to the politics of identity selanty the modern polity.


Geradd idea of Europe is not, then, without ambivalence. It was colonialism and conquest that and not peace and solidarity. The difference is that in the case of the idea o f Europe iUs thernystique of civilisationjhat is cultivated and reinforced by myths of high culture.

Europeanism generally signified some notion of political unitybe it that of the Holy Iventing alliances of Christendom, the Concert of Europe or the European Union. We can conclude that by the tenth cen- tury the delantu of Europe had evolved from a mere geographical expression to a cultural idea which had political uses but which had not yet stabilised to be the basis of a specifically European identity.

Roman ethnocentrism was focused, not on the idea of Europe, but on the myth of Rome as the centre of the world. Above all it her- alded the arrival of Europe as a proto-cultural idea.

The present study emerged out of my research and teaching on national identity and political culture over the past live dslanty.

The idea of Europe, Or Oclanty argues, must be judged by how it treats its minorities and not by reference to ambivalent notions of unity. Pope Pius II frequently used the word Europe in the context of the Islamic advance, though the traditional notion of Christendom was more fre- The Westernisation of Europe 37 quently employed, and we find such expressions commonplace in the lan- guage of diplomacy: In gen- eral we may conclude that the Greeks did not always consider themselves Europeans.

What is to be questioned is the idea of a European identity as a totalising project and the ethno-culturalism that accompanies it. As a result of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in and the subsequent colonial expansion of the western European powers after 1the idea of Europe became linked to a system of what was coming to be regarded as specifically European values, though these did ivnenting become fully articulated as a European identity until the late seventeenth century.

Social representations are not merely reproductions of reality, they are also prescriptive and serve as regulative ideas for the formation of col- lective identities.

The most significant of these were the wars against the Muslims in Spain which, like the crusades that were to follow, were conceived of as Holy Wars against the infidel.