Multiple Europes and the Negotiation of European Borders. a Post-Colonial Perspective on Negotiations of Power Between Nation States, Investors and Labor

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Manuela BOATCA, University of Freiburg, Germany
Nina BAUR, Technische Universitat Berlin, Germany
During the process of nation building from the middle ages to the 19th century, nation states were constructed as having a clearly defined territory and outside borders; an ethnically, culturally and homogenous population with a shared common language who are granted citizenship rights and a government having sovereign power inside its borders. The resulting competition between European nation states resulted in colonialism. After World War II, most former colonies became successively independent, and at the same time, the process of European integration has started. In most research on denationalization and europeanization, the major boundary drawn is typically between “Europe” and “Non-Europe”, with Europe continuously expanding. However, there are also indications that there are internal struggles and differentiations within Europe, and at second glance, it is not clear what “Europe” is – depending on the criterion of definition, the number of states ascribed to be “European” varies widely.

In this paper, we address the question of “Europe” from a theoretical perspective combining postcolonial and figurational theory. We argue that the location of states as political actors in the figuration is itself historically produced and linked to different positions of power, such that the issue of belonging to the European space is not constructed primarily on the basis of geographical or cultural criteria or of formal EU membership, but via their geopolitical role in the structure of (post)colonial power relations. Thus, at least five types of “Europes” can be identified and distinguished from the Non-European: heroic Europe, decadent Europe, epigonal Europe, contested Europe and marginal Europe.

We further argue that the power relations within and between these groups is driven by complex power games between nation states, capital, the indigenous labour force and labour migrants. These complex dynamics change Europe over time and give it its present form.