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A cosmopolitan Europe?

On "unity in diversity" and the politics of Turkey's EU accession

Katharina Bodirsky

Cosmopolitan visions hold EU-Europe capable of recognizing diversity within limits set by universal principles. This view has gained currency in EU self-representations and among the liberal left as a counter to founding EU-Europe on civilizational unity. Proponents of a cosmopolitan Europe nevertheless partake in a culturalization of politics that enables and obscures processes of state transformation visible in Turkey's EU accession process. Debates on Turkey's EU membership construct a normative representation of EU-Europe that justifies EU accession measures as "normalization." Supporters of a cosmopolitan EU contribute to this political effect by adhering to a liberal distinction between "mere difference" to be tolerated and "disruptive difference" to be contained, which legitimizes an interventionist stance vis-à-vis Turkey. However, changes in state interventions and institutions supported by this normalizing project go beyond installing "unity in diversity" in cultural-political terms. They involve economic de- and reregulation that might entrench social and territorial inequalities.

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Emptiness and its futures

Staying and leaving as tactics of life in Latvia

Dace Dzenovska

In the past 25 years, rural Latvia has become notably emptier. This emptying is the result of post-Soviet deindustrialization and large-scale outmigration, enabled by EU accession and exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis. It is accompanied by lack of political protest, leading many to conclude that migration hinders political mobilization. Such conclusions derive from viewing leaving and staying as actions in relation to the state. Instead, leaving and staying should be viewed in relation to transnational forms of power. The people leaving the deindustrialized Latvian countryside to work in the English countryside are seeking futures past, namely, futures of stable employment and incremental prosperity. Those who stay in the emptying Latvian countryside create the future as a little bit more of the present.

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The Accession Pedagogy

Power and Politics in Turkey's Bid for EU Membership

Bilge Firat

From 1989, new plans to enlarge the EU caused growing public disenchantment with the future of European integration as a viable model of cooperation among states and peoples in Europe. To manage disenchantment, EU actors designed various policy tools and techniques in their approaches to European peripheries such as Turkey. Among these, they intensified and perfected processes of pedagogy where EU actors assume that they have unique knowledge of what it means to be 'European' and that they must teach accession candidates how to become true Europeans. Based on accounts of EU politicians and officials, past experiences of government officials from former EU candidate states and Turkish officials' encounters with the EU's accession pedagogy, this article explores the EU's enlargement policy as a pedagogical engagement and the responses it elicits among Turkish governmental representatives, in order to test the reconfigurations of power between Europe and the countries on its margins.

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Action Speaks Louder Than Words?

Trust, Trustworthiness and Social Transformation in Slovakia

Davide Torsello

This article argues that trust cannot be easily isolated as a form of social interaction without the risk of overseeing the nuance between practices and ideas. Using a case study of a rural community in post-socialist Slovakia, the author examines how trust and trustworthiness are built and applied under conditions of profound social transformation. Following mainstream anthropological approaches to post-socialism, he shows that this transformation has deeply affected the patterns of local social interaction. Moreover, following Slovakia's recent EU accession, increased social and work mobility have further complicated the picture. If trust remains a crucial idea underpinning individual social choices, cognitive constructions of trustworthiness tend to diverge from practices. This is due, among other factors, to the difficulty of calibrating spatial and temporal mental models of trustworthiness with trust as social action.

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Kacper Pobłocki

This article describes why the Polish government has pushed for an invocation to Christian traditions in the European Union Constitution. It is argued that this is a rather 'unfortunate' outcome of the political alliance between the Catholic Church and the Polish left, especially between President Aleksander Kwaśniewski and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). This alliance allowed the SLD to legitimize their rule in the post-socialist Poland, and it was a result of a political competition between them and the post-Solidarność elites. As a result, John Paul II became the central integrative metaphor for the Polish society at large, which brought back in the marginalized as well as allowed the transition establishment to win the EU accession referendum in 2003. The article (which was written when Leszek Miller was still Prime Minister) demonstrates how this alliance crystallized and presents various elements of the cult of the Pope in Poland that followed. Finally, it argues that the worship of the Pope is not an example of nationalism, but of populism, understood not as a peripheral but as a central political force, and advocates for more research on the 'politics of emotions' at work in the centers and not in peripheries.

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Anika Keinz

Soon after the collapse of communism, women's rights and gender equality became hotly debated issues in Poland, particularly as they were linked to different interpretations of what the transition to democracy ought to mean. In the context of conservative arguments linking Poland's “return to normalcy” with a return to traditional gender roles and relating feminism to the “foreign” socialist order, women's NGOs and networks in Warsaw started to creatively re-frame their arguments within the terms of Polish tradition. At the same time EUropeanization of gender discourses provided another contested register in which women's rights activists had to negotiate their claims. This article explores how concepts of gender and feminism in Poland have become objects, as much as effects, of powerful political debates, describing a discursive field where national self-understandings and values are negotiated in the context of transition and EU accession. It provides an ethnographic account of the central role played by notions of gender and feminism in imaging democratic citizenship and in producing new subject positions in postsocialist Poland.