Global Europe – Københavns Universitet

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Global Europe

Coordinators: Stuart Ward, Detlef Siegfried and Morten Heiberg

It has become commonplace for researchers to claim that Europe’s past cannot be fully appreciated within its own self-sufficient, sovereign borders; that the nation is a distorting prism, ill-suited to the global dimensions of the Europe we inhabit today. An earlier generation of scholarship is routinely taken to task for erecting artificial distinctions between the nation and the world beyond Europe’s shores. The notion that the histories of Europe and the wider world were ‘imbricated’, ‘infused’, ‘embedded’, ‘steeped’, ‘interwoven’ and ‘entwined’ in one another, are widely circulated – each seeking to capture the imperative of placing the national and the global in the same analytical frame.

Yet these trends coincide with an endemic pessimism for the future of the transnational European project. Former EU president, Jean-Claude Juncker, linked the success of the EU to the presence of a living memory of World War II, and appealed to ‘the present generation of European leaders ‘to forge ahead with closer European ties’. In the absence of living and personal memories of the two world wars, Juncker feared that Europe – after six decades of peace – would be unable to incorporate these wars into a shared European cultural memory. Not without reason.

This research strand is concerned with the paradox of a globalizing Europe still anchored in national commemorative and political cultures. Despite significant advances in the study of memory, social movements and Europe’s imperial projections around the world, an enormous potential remains untapped. There lies the more innovative possibility of viewing European cultures and societies as inherently transnational, permeating not only the borders between Europe and the wider world, but also effortlessly transcending the boundaries within Europe itself. Particularly after 1945, when decolonization changed the worldview of many European nations – whether or not they had been colonial powers before – perceptions and reactions towards the increasing global convergence had a strong impact on the understanding of European modernity in politics, economics, and culture. Although this pan-European research agenda has been tentatively probed in a variety of quarters for several years, it seems significant that it has only broken the surface in the volatile waters of post-2008 austerity. The spectacle of massive indebtedness, flatline growth rates, falling revenues, ageing populations, mass youth unemployment, and the ever-looming threat of sovereign default in the Eurozone, undoubtedly represents a new and unstable era in the history of European integration. But in a wider perspective it also represents a major watershed in the relative wealth, status and influence of Europe in the world.

Research projects within the platform

Detlef Siegfried: Apartheid og de europæiske samfund, 1960erne til 1980erne. Apartheid har været et af de helt store globale konfliktemner inden murens fald, som har sat sit præg ikke mindst på de europæiske samfund. Projektet undersøger, hvorfor, hvordan og på hvilke områder denne globale konflikt har forandret europæernes selvforståelse, politiske mekanismer og kulturelle præferencer. Det drejer sig om et dansk-tysk samarbejdsprojekt, som fokuserer på tre områder: a) apartheids opponenters og fortaleres politiske kampagner, b) kulturmøder mellem europæere og sydafrikanere og c) symbiosen af politik og livsstil i kølvandet på anti-apartheid. To af de i alt seks projekter er tilknyttet ENGEROM og forskningsplatformen ”Global Europe” (Detlef Siegfried: ”Anti-apartheid og opståen af et globalt mediefællesskab” og Jakob Skovgaard: ”Forbrugsboykot som privat menneskeretspolitik”). Hele projektgruppens første workshop med deltagelse af alle seks medarbejder plus inviterede gæster fra forskellige lande kommer til at foregår i København i maj måned 2015.

Morten Heiberg: US-Spanish relations during the transition period in Spain 1975-1982. The transition to democracy in Spain after General Franco's death on 20 November 1975 is widely recognized as one of the proudest moments in Spanish national history. Historians, sociologists and political scientists have contributed equally to a thorough understanding of this defining event. Yet for a number of good reasons their main focus has been on Spanish domestic issues rather than on external forces and their significance for the democratization of Spain. However, in recent years the international dimension of the transition period 1975-1982 has gained new interest as a separate field of investigation. In a forthcoming monograph I discuss the role and the importance of the United States for the process of democratic change in Spain.

Stuart Ward: Embers of Empire: The Receding Frontiers of Post-Imperial Britain. Embers of Empire is a project comprising the disciplines of English, History and Linguistics embarking on a major collaborative study of the end of empire and the idea of ‘Britain’. Specifically, we propose to explore the putative relationship between the dynamics of global decolonisation and the widely debated ‘break-up of Britain’ since the Second World War.

The project examines the as yet unquestioned assumption that the end of empire has led to a crisis of British identity. By uniting linguistic and historical research traditions and by looking at Britishness on a global scale, the project aims to open up the study both in terms of scope and methodology. It explores the relationship between coercive and discursive practices at empire’s end which became central to the controversies that prized open the imagined unity of global Britishness.

Involverede forskere

Professor Stuart Ward, Professor Detlef Siegfried, Professor Morten Heiberg, Associate Professor Lisbeth Verstraete-Hansen, Associate Professor Julio Hans C. Jensen, PhD students: Christian Damm Petersen, Astrid Rasch, Ezekiel Mercau, Jakob Skovgaard


Professor James Belich, Balliol College Oxford; 
Professor Stefan Berger, Bochum University
; Dr Elizabeth Buettner, University of Amsterdam; Professor Sebastian Conrad, Free University of Berlin; Professor Frederick Cooper, New York University
; Dr John Darwin, Nuffield College, Oxford
; Professor Andreas Eckert, Humboldt University
; Professor Caroline Elkins, Harvard University
; Professor Richard Finlay, University of Strathclyde
; Dr Mark Hampton, Lingnan University, Hong Kong; Professor Maya Jasanoff, Harvard University
; Professor John E. Joseph, University of Edinburgh; Dr Joanna Lewis, London School of Economics; 
Dr Christopher Prior, University of Southampton; 
Professor Andrew S. Thompson, University of Exeter; Université Lille, University of Leeds, Universidad Complutense de Madrid