Theorizing European Disintegration in Times of Complexity

    • Bologna October 2016
    • Presentation speakers
      • Senka Neuman Stanivukovic, Department of International Relations and International Organization, University of Groningen / Euroculture, The Netherlands


    This paper adds to a growing discussion on the need to explain and theorize European disintegration (Schmitter; 2012; Vollard, 2014; Auer, 2015; Krastev, 2015). In its central argument, the paper establishes that problematization of European disintegration should take place outside of the realm of traditional EU theorizing. Whereas the mainstream scholarship attempts to reevaluate ability of the existing integration theories to make sense of events such as the so-called euro-zone/solidarity/migration/identity/etc. crises, this paper takes an opposite turn. Events that have marked contemporary European political landscape are adopted to critically rethink how Europe is imagined within the European integration theorizing. Whereas Schmitter for instance adopts the neo-institutional concepts of spill-over and spill-back to classify political processes in terms of furthering supranational institutions (integration) or reversing them (disintegration), this paper sees the very terms integration and disintegration to be constrained by the presupposition of the existence of a European telos and the consequent definition of integration as a liner development towards that telos. In response, the paper draws from Latourian political philosophy – Latour’s redefinition of the political as a mode – to challenge the existing nature of the beast debates within EU scholarship. It develops on Walters’ 2002/2004 call for the scholarship to rethinking European integration by examining mundane acts/procedures that make/constitute Europe as a political and regulable space (84). Walters’ adopts Latour’s power of association to explain not “what Europe” but “how Europe” is made governable (94). Analytical focus is consequently placed on heterogeneous assemblages and everyday enactments of these assemblages. This paper goes further in adopting Latour’s discussion of the “political” to shed a different light on the events that are increasingly classified as “the crisis” or disintegration. The paper makes three central claims. First, the European subject is polymorphous. Europe is realized in multitudinal assemblages and practices. Second, European integration is essentially relational rather than unidirectional. Third, the European subject is both symbolic and material. Europe is enacted by speeches, monuments, flags but also documents, technologies, financial instrument, architectural artefacts, or agricultural land. In the context of redefining European integration as multitudinal, disintegration is debunked as a useful concept and events widely referred to as disintegration are consequently re-examined via the actor-network theory.