The Power of Naming and Subaltern Identities in Europe: Eastern Europe as Internal Other

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Emanuel Crudu, Euroacademia (Paris, Lucca & Brussels)


    The Eastern Enlargement took place within a framework of deeply asymmetric relations between the EU and the candidate countries (Moravcsik and Vachudova 2003). A robust theory of enlargement explains the interests driven determination of Central and Eastern European countries to join while they entrapped through strategic action the Western European side of the EU in its rhetoric of commitment to norms and values as inescapable arguments to enlarge (Schimmelfennig 2003; Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005). This approach preserves a different type of asymmetry while treating candidate countries as identitarian tabula rasa lacking any logic of appropriateness in their pursuit of joining the EU. Yet, when any identitarian construct was to be invoked, most often the reference was rerouted to the Cold War attributes of the region as laggard, uncivilized, byzantine or ottoman in its preferences and behaviours. This is to name applicant states in their profile as Europe’s constitutive others. A wide variety of scholars addressed the EU’s narratives of making the Eastern European other as an outcome of cultural politics of enlightenment (Wolff 1994), as an effect of EU’s need to delineate its borders (Neumann 1996, 1999), as an outcome of its views on security (Buzan and Waever 2003; Levy et al. 2005; Kuus 2007) or as a type of “orientalism” or post-colonialism (Melegh 2006; Kovacevic 2008; Todorova 2009). Yet most of these types of approaches were forgotten in analyzing the persistence of a East-West slope after the enlargement effectively took place. The region is understood now under a process of convergence, socialization and Europeanization that will have as outcome an “ever closer union” where the East and the West will fade away as categories. Yet the reality is far from such an outcome while the persistence of categories of alterity making towards the new members is not dismantled. The discourse on core-periphery, new Europe/old Europe is rather gaining increasing ground in the arena of European identity narratives voiced by the EU. This paper proposes an unfolding view of the EU as a sort of post-modern neo-medieval empire (Zielonka 2006) in which narratives of othering towards Central and Eastern Europe preserve their salience. The paper advances a research puzzle rather than making definitive statements.