Black and White: Imaginations of European Identity in Eurosceptic and Eurooptimistic Political Cartoons in UK and Slovakia

  • Abstract:
    After twenty years of research, discussions about European identity almost belong to the folklore of European Studies, yet the concept still seems to pose more questions rather than give definitive answers. Discourse analysis has become the tool of choice for many scholars of identity, who paid plenty of attention to the official EU documentation, public speeches of its representatives, newspaper articles. However, only little interest has been given to the visual mode of discourse – the images and imaginations of EU identity that are being communicated through the media. Constructivists focusing on European identity analysis, rely almost exclusively on textual and verbal discourse. But discourse as such is not limited to verbal acts alone; images and photographs, portraits and graphic manipulations, including political cartoons, constitute an integral component of an identity narrative. Thus the aim of this contribution, based on a sample of political cartoons from the daily print of United Kingdom and Slovak Republic, is to analyse the imaginations of European Union’s identity as portrayed in the political cartoons of four newspapers. To this end, this paper develops a specialized political cartoon specific methodology of discourse analysis of meanings communicated by the cartoon images. First, the empirical results presented below deal with concurrency of discourses of European topics in the studied newspapers. Second empirical part examines concepts directly related to the content of identity construction: political representation, personification of the European Union, member state’s relationship with Europe and the Other.