Gothic Narratives and European Identity in Crisis

  • Abstract:

    On a social constructivist basis, the paper argues that discourse plays an important role in identity construction, and that identities are constructed vis a vis an Other or Others. Discourse on identity may take the form of a narrative, with the Self and Other in clearly defined roles. It is argued here that discourse regarding a (perceived) threatening Other may take on aspects of a Gothic tale – a tale of persecution, horror and terror, often involving the use of the uncanny, or the ‘return of the repressed’ in order to heighten the sensation of fear. In other words, a Gothic narrative may serve as a securitisation strategy in the sense of the Cambridge school. The EU is facing not only an economic and financial crisis but also a crisis of identity. Tensions have appeared between the ‘core’ Northern states of the EU and the peripheral south. Moreover, the recent success of Eurosceptic and extreme right parties in the recent EP elections also reveal tensions between a European identity based on integration and national identity on the one hand and between a ‘multicultural’ and a culturally ‘Western’ or ‘Christian’ Europe on the other. This paper, then, examines Gothic narratives of fear and persecution in each of these three contexts.