After the fall of the Iron Curtain a new concept of Europe as a socially relevant object of study emerged in the social sciences challenging the model of Europe as historical entity, or a philosophical or literary concept. This concept provoked an upsurge of interest in the study of European identity among anthropologists who began to study how Europeanness is constructed and articulated both by the architects of the EU themselves and at a grass-root level. Drawing on notions of European culture and identity, this text examines the image of Europe/the EU in post-communist Europe, particularly in the Czech Republic, from two different perspectives. First, how the institutionalisation of Europe as a cultural idea is viewed by some of the Czech political commentators, and second, from an ethnographically grounded anthropological perspective, focusing on how and at what levels a Czech local community identifies with Europe and the EU. Drawing on a broad range of data, the text attempts to provide new insights into the pitfalls of collective European identity in the making, with the emphasis on its cultural dimension in the post-communist Czech Republic.
Anthropological Perspectives on the Process of European Integration
Jennifer A. Yoder
On 21 December 2007, the German-Polish border became a "Schengen" border. Passport controls and other limitations to the movement of people and goods were abolished, removing one more obstacle to European and, perhaps, German-Polish integration. Several years earlier, Poland introduced territorial and administrative changes that moved it closer institutionally to western European states. Forty-nine subnational administrative units were replaced by sixteen self-governing voivodships. This article explores the implications of this new institutional context for German-Polish border relations. It finds that, despite the expansion of the opportunity structure for greater German-Polish cross-border cooperation, interaction still tends to be among elites. The development of linkages at the societal level lags behind for several reasons, including lingering institutional impediments and cultural differences, but also the failings of political leadership.
Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Children in the Middle East
Erika Friedl and Abderrahmane Moussaoui
For several reasons there exist only relatively few ethnographic studies of children in the Middle East or in the diaspora. Accordingly, the articles in this issue of Anthropology of the Middle East represent thematically and theoretically highly divergent projects, all based on ethnographic topics and methodologies. Geographically they encompass different locations, and thematically they range from the history of childhood in Iran to matters of socio-cultural integration in Austria; from legal matters concerning youths in Algeria to socio-psychological problems of schoolchildren in Lebanon and to parent-child dynamics in Morocco. The short research, book and conference reports in this issue emphasize approaches and topics in critical anthropology as applied to the Middle East.