Europeaness vs. Non-Europeaness: ‘Europe’ as Category of Collective Self-Description in Spanish and Portuguese Literature

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Lydia Schmuck, University of Hamburg, Institute of Political Sciences, Germany


    This paper focusses on ‘Europe’ as category of collective identity and alterity and as such as category which manifests a particular perception of the world (cf. Asbach 2011: 28). As a term without reference to a definite real phenomenon, ‘Europe’ seems to be particularly suitable to constitute ideas of (cultural, religious, socio-political) community and diversity. Following Carl Schmitt (1996: 26-28) who characterizes the distinction between enemy (Feind) and friend (Freund) as basic category of the political, the inclusion in or exclusion from ‘Europe’ serves to constitute not only political identities, but also political actors. Due to the politics of isolation of the dictatorial regime and the colonial past, on the one hand, and the geographical and economic marginality, on the other, Spain and Portugal have an ambiguous relation to ‘Europe’. In Spanish and Portuguese texts, ‘Europe’ is referred to as both as part of the own identity and as the significant ‘other’. ‘Europe’ serves not only as (positive) reference point of national self-description, as l’autre cap in Jacques Derrida’s (1991) term, but even as an exclusionary matrix (Butler 1993) which defines the in-group and the other, the potentate (Said 1991) and the subaltern (Gramsci 2012 [s.d.]; Spivak 2011 [1988]). The opposition between ‘Europe’ and Spain and/or Portugal or the ‘European’ and the Spanish and/or Portuguese goes along with the distribution of power and knowledge (cf. Massey 1999; Foucault 1994 [1966]). Considering the reference to ‘Europe’ and ‘European’ in Spanish and Portuguese literary texts, this paper aims at giving an answer to the principle questions: What kind of configurations of the world and which ideas of community and diversity are transmitted via ‘Europe’ as category of collective self-description? And: To what extent ‘Europe’ serves as instrument of politicization of collective identities?