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Thread: European Identity.

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    European Identity.



    I would like to introduce myself. I am a student of European Studies at University Maastricht (Netherlands). At the moment I and 2 fellow students of our group are assigned to conduct a research on the "European Identity". We all live in a world of uncertainty, of social awareness, economic crisis and political efforts to improve the situation as a whole. Especially in these times of crisis, it is quite important to have the feeling of belonging in a group that shares common values, in other words, being united. Two main questions arise:

    Whether you believe that European Identity exists?
    Do you consider yourself European?

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    Welcome to Eupedia. This is an interesting thread.
    I believe European Identity exists, and consider myself European.
    Though I emigrated from Poland and live in Canada now, I've picked this new country of residence, because it feels like Europe here, with language, political/social and economic systems, standard of living, traditions, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Welcome to Eupedia. This is an interesting thread.
    I believe European Identity exists, and consider myself European.
    Though I emigrated from Poland and live in Canada now, I've picked this new country of residence, because it feels like Europe here, with language, political/social and economic systems, standard of living, traditions, etc.


    It is so nice that people living in Canada are interested in Europe and don't forget the country they belong to. Do you think that European Identity is a transparent phenomenon, meaning that it is not necessary to live in Europe in order to be European and to belong to European Identity? It is not a kind of educated feeling from media or from communication with "Europeans", but it is a personal attitude and thinking?

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    I think a European Identity is definitely present around Europe. We, as Europeans, share a flag and an anthem, uniting us towards the European ideal. Being French and living in Holland, I still feel there is a connection with other European peoples, whether it is in the city where I live or even on holidays in another European country. I do not get the same feeling when I am outside Europe however. I think it is because Europeans share a common culture and a common History, and that creates a link between us. After World War Two, the European Union managed to unite Europeans towards common goals - peace and reconstruction - and I think they were very successful. Such an experience and its aftermath united us as a people.

    Today, I believe the European Identity should be felt all around Europe because once again we are united towards a common goal - reconstruction from the financial crisis. But the EU haven't made European values felt strongly enough. It seems more that blame has been put on individual Member States (Greece, Spain, Portugal) for all of the EU's problems. This has divided peoples around Europe and the European Identity has faded.

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    As a Belgian having lived in Ireland, Spain, France and now Germany, I certainly feel European. I have witnessed the European identity everywhere I lived at different degrees. Germans and Belgians definitely have a strong bond with Europe as an institution. Spaniards are lukewarm, probably because they feel like they owe a lot to the EU membership, and Ireland has seen a big shift from enthusiastic pro-European feeling to eurosceptiscism. The French have always been critical of anything they did not fully control. As a global feeling, I think the enlargement was perceived like a threat to local employment and would lead to social welfare abuse, but eastern Europeans have proved to adapt very quickly and effectively to their new environment. Polish and Czech immigration has been a success in the UK and Ireland and most of these immigrants were economic migrants that tend in the majority to go back to their native country after some time. The tensions some expected to rise did not happen. However, islamic immigration is a factor that tends to make populism and nationalism rise. The EU would have a great card to play to push its agenda if non-European immigration, legal and illegal, would be tackled and severely controlled. Most people tend to see the EU responsible for the reckless islamisation of their major cities, which has a negative impact on the feeling of belonging to a European structure.
    The main issue is to find a link between the geopolitical, cultural and historical Europe, which is a neverending list of wars, battles, tug-of-war games between superpowers and empires since the Fall of the Roman Empire, and the new structure the EU tries to create. What is the place of the citizen in a Europe where laws are being voted by people they did not elect, why are billions of Euros worth money jeopardized in a project that duplicates what every national government can provide? We surely all feel Europeans because of our past, but national sensitivities remain all the more central to us, for fear of losing our identities for the sake of building a supersized superstate, often perceived as a bureaucratic monster. The EU will face a great challenge to get the confidence of the citizens after the chaotic management of the financial crises. Resentment is heavy from some members towards others, and people will remember the crisis has been dealt with by Merkel and Sarkozy while Van Rompuy and Barroso looked like 2 idiots completely overblown by the occurences. National governments are likely to come out stronger of the crisis, and it will raise the question of the purpose of a political Union, which for many has no need to be.

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    I think a European identity definitely exists but I've no idea how it could be defined. It is a fairly loose and amphorous concept that seems to mean something slightly different to everyone. But there is a definite feeling of European unity, despite the squabbles.

    Although, I'm not sure that anyone would define themselves as European, if asked where they are from. I think most would give their nationality or country of birth first priority.

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    I think there was a European identity based on ancient Greek culture and thought, Roman politics and empire, Chiristian ideology before modern times.Now you are rebuilding it!

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    Now one of the biggest question for European people is how to politicize and socialize this identity, I think.
    But if colonists from different parts of Europe could build the U.S. in the 18th century, you can do it---build United States of Europe today too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgnju View Post
    Now one of the biggest question for European people is how to politicize and socialize this identity, I think.
    But if colonists from different parts of Europe could build the U.S. in the 18th century, you can do it---build United States of Europe today too.
    However, is this desirable? How many feel European, or have a sense of European identity? I think that only a minor part of the 'European' people feel this way, because they are interested in European issues or they know that European matters. I think that a lot of people from the lower social classes don't feel this way, because they are just not interested in these European issues.

    I think this whole 'European identity-based integration' is a top-down project, invented in Brussels. It's never going to happen..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gieljom88 View Post
    I think this whole 'European identity-based integration' is a top-down project, invented in Brussels. It's never going to happen..
    True, but it is also true for all nationalities. Leaders uniting every country had to sell new identity, in form of education or propaganda.
    Brussels or any other center wouldn't be able to create EU if it wasn't already in minds and hearts of many, especially influential people.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    I think we have to distinguish between a general cultural European identity (which is actually not that new), and an artificially created EU identity. I guess nobody in the world identifies himself with the EU. Or would someone from the EU, when abroad, seriously introduce himself with coming from the EU if asked where he's from???
    Comparisons between a general European culture and anything else (LatAm, African, Arabic, Indian, in some cases even Russian or Pan-Anglican) on the other hand is more likely.

    The first time I felt a real European identity was when I was in East Africa, living among Africans, Indians and Arabs (and Cuban collegues). After intensive studies of pre- and post-colonial politics, history, religion, habits and (pop-)culture I started to ask myself what my roots are and what my own identity is. Sometimes I was getting really desperate in understanding the other people's way of thinking, whether it was economics, hierarchy, moral or any other sort of irrational thinking out of my perspective. One day, after I haven't seen a European for over a week, I walked down a street where I went into a barber shop and surprisingly met an Italian inside. Even though I never felt Germans and Italians as that alike before, all of a sudden now I felt understood by someone, followed by the thought "I am a European!".

    Additionally, in Africa, European culture was often over-generalized. There is a term "Mzungu" (literally "aimless wanderer", but in the sense of "European"), applying for all Europeans AND those who follow the European culture and habits. Which sometimes also lead to the strange situation that even Afro-Americans who have lost their African cultural roots were considered as "Wazungu" (plural). Anecdote: an African friend gave me a CD for my birthday with alleged European Music on it, and I was surprised to find Snoop Dogg and 50cent as I listened to it... Strangely, American Hip Hop was regarded as a product of former African slaves exclusively influenced by European cultural heritage.

    To the rest of the world Europeans often present a very paradox picture:

    -once they tried to impose Christianity on everyone, now all of a sudden they say God doesn't exist
    -once they fostered the sanctimonious little family with two parents and one to three kids, now they say we have to abandon families and live in sexual liberty
    -once they talked about industry and progress, now they talk strange things about ecological sustainability
    -their monarchs and dictators showed how to be successful and rule the world, now they talk about freedom and democracy and that stuff

    To an outsider it itself seems irrational and inconsistend! But it shows very well that also European identity is not static, it changes over the centuries and even decades. So besides it's roots in Christianity and the Greco-Roman world, also these rapid shifts in culture and mentality is what makes European culture European.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mzungu mchagga View Post
    I guess nobody in the world identifies himself with the EU. Or would someone from the EU, when abroad, seriously introduce himself with coming from the EU if asked where he's from???


    The first time I felt a real European identity was when I was in East Africa, living among Africans, Indians and Arabs (and Cuban collegues).One day, after I haven't seen a European for over a week, I walked down a street where I went into a barber shop and surprisingly met an Italian inside. Even though I never felt Germans and Italians as that alike before, all of a sudden now I felt understood by someone, followed by the thought "I am a European!".



    To the rest of the world Europeans often present a very paradox picture:

    -once they tried to impose Christianity on everyone, now all of a sudden they say God doesn't exist
    -once they fostered the sanctimonious little family with two parents and one to three kids, now they say we have to abandon families and live in sexual liberty
    -once they talked about industry and progress, now they talk strange things about ecological sustainability
    -their monarchs and dictators showed how to be successful and rule the world, now they talk about freedom and democracy and that stuff
    I think the fact that you did think to yourself "I am a European" reflects that you relate to Europe (when you are abroad). Of course I would not expect that you introduce yourself by saying 'I am from the EU, from Germany more precisely', but the fact that when meeting this 'other' European you reminded yourself of your roots, means that the bond between you and the EU is stronger than you thought.
    It is also no surprise that you felt this "European-ness" when you were abroad. I don't think you would feel as European in Europe because most people here are obviously Europeans. But you did differentiate yourself from the natives in Africa as a European and not as a German, so it shows that in your case Europe does play a big part of how people define you and how you can define yourself to people. Pride in your roots plays a big part.

    And the European Identity all comes down from this paradox picture that you describe. The European feeling was created in the times of the Crusades because of Islam as a 'common enemy'. Today, I guess you can replace the 'common enemy' tag by 'foreigner' or 'stranger', and people still identify themselves as Europeans when faced by an African (or other), just as in your situation.

    To come back to the researcher's question, I think a European Identity definitely exists but it is a fragmented one. There is the general European Identity created culturally throughout History. But today this has evolved to a European Identity created by the European Union. Or at least an attempt at it.
    Whether people identify with it is different depending on where you are from. Today most people must think there is too much of the EU and that after all, the financial crisis we are in was created by the Euro and the EU. So the European Identity at the moment is quite weak and Europeans are not united behind the EU, precisely because of the situation we are in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Antigone View Post
    I think a European identity definitely exists but I've no idea how it could be defined. It is a fairly loose and amphorous concept that seems to mean something slightly different to everyone. But there is a definite feeling of European unity, despite the squabbles.

    Although, I'm not sure that anyone would define themselves as European, if asked where they are from. I think most would give their nationality or country of birth first priority.

    Just thought about how I will answer the question "where am I from". From my personal experience, I could say that it is hard for me to define to which nationality do I belong. Being lived in one of the Baltic State countries, having three different nationalities in my family. Starting from Russians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, having knowledge in all three languages, knowing the culture and folk of all three separate countries. For me it is quite hard to even identify myself with one particular. I can not claim I am one of these three because I never been to Russia, in Lithuania I do not either belong to Lithuanians, in Ukraine I am foreigner. For me being such a mixed one person, the best option is to identify myself with being European. However, I am still wondering how will I answer the question concerning my nationality.... It's hard...

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    After British embassy was assaulted by Iranian protesters, Germany ,France and Holland called back their respective ambassadors.What is this? Please note that U.S. did not do the same thing (which was called British natural ally) and Canada and Australia did not do the same thing (which are members of Commonwealth). What is this? This is just European Identity!

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    Interesting kgnju, solidarity in the name of Europe.

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    It seems that diplomatic solutions have been outstretched with the Iranian government, who openly insults the west in having the british embassy ransacked. The western world has been ridiculed by Iranian behaviour towards the IAEA for several years now. To people who use violence as a mean of communication, Iran might well be surprised when Israeli fighters flatten a couple of compounds. Europe is very unlikely to act as one in this case, because China and Russia will strongly condemn any foreign military intervention, and this crisis comes at the worst moment, with the European economy in shambles and Germany in dire need of Russian gas for the coming winter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgnju View Post
    After British embassy was assaulted by Iranian protesters, Germany ,France and Holland called back their respective ambassadors.What is this? Please note that U.S. did not do the same thing (which was called British natural ally) and Canada and Australia did not do the same thing (which are members of Commonwealth). What is this? This is just European Identity!
    As far as I know there ain't no USA embassy in Iran since the seventies, lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Researcher View Post
    Just thought about how I will answer the question "where am I from". From my personal experience, I could say that it is hard for me to define to which nationality do I belong. Being lived in one of the Baltic State countries, having three different nationalities in my family. Starting from Russians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, having knowledge in all three languages, knowing the culture and folk of all three separate countries. For me it is quite hard to even identify myself with one particular. I can not claim I am one of these three because I never been to Russia, in Lithuania I do not either belong to Lithuanians, in Ukraine I am foreigner. For me being such a mixed one person, the best option is to identify myself with being European. However, I am still wondering how will I answer the question concerning my nationality.... It's hard...
    I have a mixed heritage also and have a mixed marriage. We are a dual citizenship family and it is hard when questioned where you are from, especially when you can identify with more than one place. Depending on who is asking, of course, but I've found that just giving the country of birth as an answer is easier and quicker as most people are not interested in long explanations on heritage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cimmerianbloke View Post
    Europe is very unlikely to act as one in this case, because China and Russia will strongly condemn any foreign military intervention, and this crisis comes at the worst moment, with the European economy in shambles and Germany in dire need of Russian gas for the coming winter.
    Which is exactly why it has happened now, because Iran know that Europe is in no position to do anything except whinge.

    Although, does anyone know what the provocation was?

    To hear the media, the British were just minding their own business when they were "attacked" but these things never happen without a reason. So what have the British been up to behind the scenes in Iran to cause this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Goga View Post
    As far as I know there ain't no USA embassy in Iran since the seventies, lol.
    Uhh,how about Canada and Australia?Anyway ,thank you for correction, lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Antigone View Post
    I have a mixed heritage also and have a mixed marriage. We are a dual citizenship family and it is hard when questioned where you are from, especially when you can identify with more than one place. Depending on who is asking, of course, but I've found that just giving the country of birth as an answer is easier and quicker as most people are not interested in long explanations on heritage.
    Europe was born on the battleground of Trojan War which was the first war between east and west and Greeks defined what Europe is since then. Maybe crisis in Greece now could give born to a new Europe. Who knows?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgnju View Post
    Uhh,how about Canada and Australia?Anyway ,thank you for correction, lol.
    Just because Canada and Australia or the various EU countries are allies of Britain does not mean that they automatically must do as they are told or that they cannot make their own decisions on how to handle any crisis. They will either become involved or they won't and each will do what is best for their own national interests first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgnju View Post
    Uhh,how about Canada and Australia?Anyway ,thank you for correction, lol.
    "Current relationsIran maintains an interests section at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C.,[9] while the United States since 1980[citation needed] maintains an interests section at the Swiss embassy in Tehran.[10]"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2...ates_relations


    "The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian Revolution.[1]"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_hostage_crisis


    you can read here everything about the Iran hostage crisis of 1979...

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    The current crisis has its roots on the upgrading of the sanctions against Iran for its nuclear programme. The regime blames the west for not allowing it to pursue its civil nuclear programme, because it is common knowledge the programme is used to produce military devices, and that Iran has been repeatedly threatening its neighbours and Israel. The recent leaks in the press about an imminent Israeli strike on Iranian military compounds suspected to be part of the nuclear programme has made Iran extremely nervous.

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    And not without reason, this is yet another typical western witch-hunt.

    Possibly when the west abolish their own nuclear programmes and disarm warheads they will be in a position to dictate to others whether they can or cannot have nuclear anything. But right now, the finger pointing and moralising at Iran is hypocritical in the extreme.

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