Europe Old and New: Transnationalism, Belonging, Xenophobia

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Jul 31, 2008 - Political Science - 266 pages
Is Europe indeed uniting or instead falling apart as a result of anti-immigrant prejudices, a massive Islamic influx, and ancient intra-European hatreds? This innovative and engaging book explores this key question by examining the national and religious phobias and prejudices, antipathies and sympathies, stereotypes and heterotypes of Europe west and east. Considering the sources of Europe's culture-based divide, Ray Taras argues that the idea of two "Europes" is grounded both in reality and myth. The accession process that brought a dozen new members into the European Union after 2004 highlighted the persisting gulf between "old" and "new" Europe. While many concrete borders between east and west were removed (commercial, legal, passport regimes), many remained (absence of a single Euro currency zone, labor market, and security community). Virtual borders too were invented or re-imagined: the postmaterialist, inclusionary, tolerant values supposedly found in old Europe versus the materialist, nationalistic, xenophobic ones of new Europe.

After reviewing the two Europes' contrasting historical legacies, Taras examines the EU institutions designed to overcome the historical European divide. He considers the treaties, political rhetoric, citizen attitudes, and literary narratives of belonging and separation that both bind and fray the fabric of Europe. Throughout, this interdisciplinary work provides a comprehensive, hard-hitting, and unabashed review of how enlarged Europe embraces contrasting understandings of its political home and of who belongs and who does not.

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About the author (2008)

Ray Taras is professor of international relations and director of the world literature program at Tulane University in New Orleans.

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