Global Europe

Coordinators: Stuart WardDetlef 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.



Harder, PeterProfessor +45 353-28609E-mail
Heiberg, Morten RieversProfessor +45 353-28618E-mail
Siegfried, DetlefProfessor +45 353-28433E-mail