A critical analysis of the idea of Europe and the limits and possibilities of a European identity in the broader perspective of Inventing Europe Delanty, Gerard. I{ETlllNKlNC IRTSH HISTORy (with patrick O’Mahony). Inventing Europe. Idea, Identity, Reality. Gerard Delanty. Senior LÄ›crurer in Sociology. U niversity of Liver . Inventing Europe: Idea, Identity, Reality, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke,

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From its origin as an Asiatic cult it became the imperial ideology of Rome and finally evolved to be the universal and legitimating myth of medieval Christendom under the aegis of the German Reich. Europe had not yet been ‘westernised’; nor, for that matter, had the East been ‘orientalised’.

Other reflections tend to be of an impressionistic nature Barzini, ; Enzenberger, ; Kramer,; Nooteboom, ; Phillips, Idea, Identity, Reality by Gerard Delanty. By this fmean the violence that is contained in a cultural world-view which claims to be in possession of a single universal truth. With expansion in the East for a time closed off, the lands beyond the seas provided room for European expansionary zeal.

Europe, as a civilisation, perpetually under threat from outside forces, particularly on its eastern frontier, evolved a cultural ethos which tended to attribute to its own structures of consciousness a uni- versaKstic dlmefisTonTWith the opening of the western frontier after and its subsequent path to world mastery, the idea of Europe increasingly signified a universal culture and European modernity was supposed to be the agent oTuTfiveHafity.

For the eastern emperors the Holy Roman Emperors were mere usurpers and the gap between East and West widened.

This is frequently what the pursuit of community euurope is about: This is evidenced by the proliferation of European publications on the Ottoman empire in the sixteenth century Springborg, Christianity effectively took invenying the ancient notion of ekrope barbarian and applied it to non-Christians.

In this transformation Europe becomes part of a hegemonical cultural discourse. There is also a vast range of books and articles ostensibly about Europe, but which in reality have very little to say on it and in fact deal with other related issues, such as modernity, democ- racy, nationalism. The idea of Europe quite simply docs not have he same emotional attachment of the nation. Christ was Europeanised and the crucifixion, after the tenth century, became the universal symbol of European mastery.


Jl can be seen the emblem and central organising metaphor of a complex civilisation. The encounter of Roman civilisation with the Orient did not always amount to the same clash of cultures that resulted when the Romans euroope Europe north of the Alps.

To invoke Europe often involves the illusion that there 12 Inventing Europe is a privileged ‘We’ who are the subject of history and a corresponding belief in the universality of western norms. I hope to avoid some of the well-known theoretical pitfalls of their works.

[ Gerard Delanty] Inventing Europe 1995

Europe as an idea, identity and as a reality. A great network of roads and seaways connected areas as far apart as the Thames and the Euphrates.

Universality can refer to a notion of otherness than includes rather than alienates the Other. Greece was often thought of as being a separate entity, distinct from Europe and Asia. One of the tasks of a crit- ical theory of Europe is to demonstrate that cultural and political diversity and the heterogeneity of social milieus lie beneath the dominant ideology. From then on the greater division between West and East took on the character of a moral-religious divide with the Occident signifying civilisation and good- ness and the Orient barbarity and evil.

A central concern in this chap- ter, as well as in Chapter 6, is an attempt to explain the manner in which the idea of Europe came to rest on a universalistic notion of civilisation, con- structed euorpe opposiuon to the Orient and the gerqrd of nature, while the idea of the nation became more focused on the particularistic concept delatny national culture.


Inventing Europe: Idea, Identity, Reality by Gerard Delanty

Under the Abbasid caliphate, which emerged after the overthrow of the Umayyads in and lasted gerafd the mid-thirteenth century when it was sacked by the Mongols, Arab power, as a result of its non-Arabic conquests, became transformed into an Islamic political system whose centre had moved from Damascus to Baghdad, which was the new nerve centre of a vast trading net- work and linked up the enure Middle East.

This new framework is what we call Europe: Moreover, an enduring tension remained between the idea of Europe as a geographical concept and the notion of Christendom, the territory of Latin Christianity. It appears the distinction between these two continents was more significant than the singularity invemting Europe against Asia Hay,p. Christianity then came to be associated with cultural superiority and civilisation while the non-Christian invfnting was seen as uncivilised and barbarian.

When Francis Bacon used the phrase ‘WeEuropeans’ init is probable that it was already clear who they were Hale,p. It is unlikely that a short book of this nature can achieve more than assisting in the formation of new terms of critical debate. We can conclude that by the tenth cen- tury the idea of Europe had evolved from a mere geographical expression to a cultural idea which had political uses but which had not yet stabilised to be the basis of a specifically European identity.

It was a Hellenic Occident. A geographical image that had far greater reality to the ancient and early medieval mind was that of Ethiopia, which was believed to contain the source of the Nile with which paradise was associated Baudet,p.

It embodies a great complex of ideas and ideals. Europe had abandoned the Mediterranean for the Baltic.