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European Union and Disunion: What has held Europeans together and what is dividing them?

Events • Conference

The conference will be chaired by Professor Ash Amin CBE FBA, Foreign Secretary & Vice-President of the British Academy and will explore some of the drawn-out narratives and sentiments that at different times have aided or compromised the imagining and workings of Europe, and will in particular engage with and unpack some of the constitutive stories of identity and meaning that in the past and present have helped to bring together and divide Europeans.

  • Dr Albena Azmanova, Reader in Social and Political Thought, University of Kent
  • Professor Elizabeth Buettner, Professor of Modern History, University of Amsterdam
  • Professor Patricia Clavin FBA, Professor of International History, University of Oxford
  • Professor Linda Colley CBE FBA, Shelby M. C. Davis 1958 Professor of History, Princeton University
  • Professor Gerard Delanty, Professor of Sociology, University of Sussex
  • Dr Dariusz Gafijczuk, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Newcastle
  • Professor Sir Ian Kershaw FBA, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Kylie Murray, Fellow in Medieval English, University of Cambridge
  • Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve CH CBE FBA, Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge
  • Professor David Runciman, Professor of Politics, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Paul Stock, Associate Professor of Early Modern International History 1500-1850, London School of Economics & Political Science
  • Professor Wolfgang Streeck FBA, Emeritus Director, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Professor Dame Helen Wallace DBE CMG FBA, Europe Liaison Chair, The British Academy
  • Professor Patrick Wright FBA, Professor of Literature and Visual & Material Culture, King's College London

There will be short talks from each speaker with plenty of scope for audience participation in the discussions that follow. This initial conference is not intended to be a comprehensive history but a platform for perspectives in a selection of connected themes on the nature, histories and identities of Europeans, over which disagreements are not a novel occurrence. This conference will begin a theme of work on Europe’s Futures, which the Academy has just announced new research funding for through a scheme on ‘Tackling the UK’s International Challenges'.

The conference will discuss and analyse questions such as:

  • What have been the stories of identity, union and belonging that varieties of Europeans have selected to foster and tell about themselves?
  • In what creative ways can European people-making, civic belonging and people-building, rather than state-making, be considered?
  • How important as a source of identity have ideas about the inescapable European-ness of the UK been in the past? And how far have recent decades witnessed these attitudes coming under pressure in ways that are new?
  • What have been the characteristics of a sense of European identity and civilisation?
  • What is the character of European narratives of aversion today? Who are their targets, and what animates their sentiments? What is being achieved through these narratives and with what impact? What are their durabilities?