European Union and Disunion: Reflections on European Identity

by The British Academy

Number of pages


Europe is increasingly seen as a space of intrusion, instability and uncertainty, with an anxiety undermining confidence in the ideas and institutions of European belonging. Europe has lost its lustre as a place of progress, security and solidarity. It may return in a kinder form when the age of insecurity passes, or if it can be shown to be the answer to fear. The contributions in this publication engage with the tropes of European belonging, past and present, and with the work done by narratives of union and disunion. Narratives are, and have always been, a touchstone of practices of inclusion or division and judgements of the familiar and strange. The Brexit outcome amply confirms this: the ‘leave’ campaign played on affects of nation, its boundaries and its outsides to great effect, certainly more so than the ‘remain’ campaign, which focused on the colder facts of costs and benefits of Europe. Looking ahead, sentiments of belonging may turn out to be key for managing our uncertain and fearful age, when the propositions of future society invariably filter through them, and all the more so when instituted precepts of society and its order falter.

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