This article argues that the symbolic borders of Europe and the existence of external Others have been at times more important than Europe's center or its actual physical boundaries, especially during the first decades after the foundation of the European Communities. Analyzing textual and visual sources taken from some ninety French, Italian, and German history textbooks published between 1950 and 2005, the various sequences in which European integration has been constructed are highlighted. Communism, the first external Other, provided the first minimum common denominator for a nascent political Europe. It was not until the end of the Cold War that a projection of a distinct European identity appeared. Nevertheless, the role of new external Other(s) remains important for the evolution of the discourse of a European identity. This article draws attention to the Others, seeking to embed the Others' perspective in narratives of Europe.
Chiara Bottici and Benoît Challand
Both the name Europe and the political entity Europe are relatively recent inventions. Although the name can be traced back as far as 700 BCE, the term in its contemporary meaning only became widespread after 1700 CE. The political entity is an even more recent construct. It was only with the first steps toward European construction in the second half of the twentieth century that the contours of a political community bearing this name emerged, even if its borders were still far from clearly defined. Yet even with the existence of today’s European Union (EU) the meaning of the term remains highly contested. Does Europe mean only the EU? Is it a geographical or a political entity? Where are its boundaries? How did these boundaries come about?