is a draft paper prepared for the symposium on "Creating
a European Identity", to be held in Krakow, 18th-22nd
"I brought along
my CV where everything is written down - where I was born, how old I am, what
I have done. He looked at me and said, 'but were you born here'? And I said,
yes, it's written there. Then he said, 'but are you an Italian citizen'? and
I said, again, yes, it's written there, I was born here. Then he said, so
you speak Italian? At that point I just looked at him and said no and left"
(in Andall 2002.)
"What kind of a name is Ahmed
for a Frenchman?" (La Haine)
"It's odd to think of Linford
Christie as a 'European'" (Conference Delegate)
"European identity" has
been much discussed in recent years in academic circles and in institutions
such as the Council of Europe (hereafter the "CoE"), and the European
Union ("EU"), particularly in contexts where there has been concern
to reflect on the economic, political, and social implications of EU integration
and the expansion of "Europe" to encompass an ever-widening circle
of countries. The Prospectus for the Krakow Symposium on "Creating a
European Identity" (September 2002) foregrounds the issue of "cultural
cohabitation" in such a Europe, and asks: "Is plural identity possible
without tearing ones identity apart and without rejection?"
"How to reconcile nationalism
and democracy, especially in multiethnic settings" is indeed, as Stepan
says, an "urgent problem" (1998: 219. This is especially the case
in the light of:
(a) Transformations in
the theoretical understanding of the concept of "culture", and its
relationship with "identity", which have questioned its essentialist
character, and thus its ready availability as the basis for "community";
(b) Processes of globalisation
and transnationalism which have encouraged movement within/across Europe,
and into Europe from other parts of the world, of populations who consider
themselves to be both "Here" and "There".
two phenomena (paradigmatic shift and global political and economic change)
are closely connected. Transnationalism is one vector through which the essentialism
integral to the hitherto prevailing system of nation-states breaks down, and
is potentially replaced by more complex networks and identities of a diasporic,
cross-over character, and analysis of these networks and identities has played
a large part in changing our understanding of culture. Thus contemporary theory
and contemporary social and cultural processes work to undermine previously
accepted ideas about the easy congruence of identity and polity.
This is also highly pertinent in
the light of the events of September 11th, 2001 in the USA ("9-11"
as they are known), and the debates that have taken place across the globe
(not least in Britain) focusing on the part played by transnational, fundamentalist
Islam ("Islamism"), then and there, and in other global crises (e.g.
Israel/ Palestine, Kashmir, etc), as well as in the daily lives of minorities
of Islamic faith residing in European countries. The events of the last twelve
months exacerbated what were often already difficult relations with Europe's
immigrant minorities, and in the case of Muslims re-opened questions about
loyalty and patriotism: "My country or my ummah?"() . "Exacerbated" because
in Britain, and elsewhere in Europe, there was already, and indeed there has
long been, an engagement with the relationship between culture, community
cohesion and identity, from many points of view across the whole of the political
spectrum. The remark about the name "Ahmed", which opens the paper,
and which poses some of the questions I am addressing in an acute way, particularly
for the so-called "second generation" of ethnic minorities, was
made by policeman, and comes, of course, from a French film of 1995, La
Haine. In Britain in the last two years alone we have had the controversy
surrounding the "Parekh Report" on "Multiethnic Britain"
(2000), and riots in the northern cities of Bradford, Burnley, and Oldham
in the Spring and Summer of 2001, which re-opened questions thought previously
to have been settled about British multiculturalism and integration. (The
author of the Parekh Report is of course himself a noted contributor to theoretical
discussions of culture and multiculture.) These events, as well as rising
popular concern over asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, led the British
government to introduce the White Paper of February 2002 with the highly pertinent
title "Secure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration with Diversity in Modern
Britain " (Cm 5387), and the EU to adopt more stringent exclusion
policies. The British White Paper's proposed legislation on citizenship and
nationality, immediately gave rise to a controversy over "arranged marriages"
which reflected debates elsewhere in Europe in the late 1990s, notably in
Scandinavia (Gullestad 2001, 2002, Melhuus 1999, Wikan 1999.) These events
both preceded and followed "9-11"; separate from it, but given greater
urgency by it.
Here and elsewhere we may detect across Europe (e.g. in Austria, Belgium,
Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway), and in the United States,
signs of a return to a traditional view of the relationship between nation,
culture, and identity; a backlash against difference (cf. Brubaker 2001: 532.)
of the importance of adherence to certain "core values" in a number
of European countries, especially in North-western Europe (e.g. in the UK,
the English language and what it means to be British);
that people declare their loyalty to the society to which they have migrated;
to institutions in the domestic sphere (such as arranged or at any rate forced
marriages) thought to be at odds with those core values. This is sometimes
articulated through language which recuperates radical feminist opposition,
e.g. to patriarchal institutions (as in accounts of the veiling - the burqa
- in Afghanistan;
about ghettoisation, for example the consequences of separate (religious)
schooling for Muslims, and exclusion.
One senses lines hardening, boundaries
being drawn. It is too early to tell yet what is really happening and why,
but one consideration is that it may reveal a response to the fragmentation
of society produced through the too enthusiastic application of neo-liberal
social and economic policies. Thus "community cohesion", to use
a term which figures prominently in recent British reports, is back on the
agenda (see Pahl 1991, cited in Shore 1997a: 174.) On the other hand, of course,
in countries such as France, and despite attempts to rethink the issue of
multiculturalism in French terms (e.g. in Wieviorka ed. 1997), there is not
so much a backlash as a prolongation of an older, deeply embedded resistance
to anything which threatens the grand "republican" tradition of
citizenship. Marc Augé's comment that "Respect for differences, the idea
of the right to be different, the notion of a 'multicultural' society - all
these, while generating noble-sounding expressions, may actually furnish an
alibi to a ghetto ideology, an ideology of exclusion", is perhaps
typical (1999b: 99, see also Lapeyronnie 1997: 251, Silverman 1999: 8, 58-9.)
Yet, as Parekh reminds us, while the modern state, based on republican (and
liberal) principles "makes good sense in a society that is culturally
homogeneous or willing to become so. In multi-ethnic and multinational societies
... the modern state can easily become an instrument of injustice and oppression"
(Parekh 2000: 185, cf. 183.)
This in broad terms, then, is the
context to the discussions on European identity. But why are these discussions
taking place? What is "European identity" for? What kind of social,
political, economic function does it serve (or is thought to serve)? In what
sense is it possible? These are some of the questions in the background to
this paper though they are only addressed briefly here. (For a fuller account
of debates about the nature of Europe and the need for something more than
economic integration see Shore's excellent and innovatory paper, 1993: 784-6,
and Shore 1998 passim; also Abélès
1996: 35, and McDonald 1996: 54.) Rather, I focus on what can be said about
"European identity" in a transnational era, and on the political
implications for our understanding of such an identity of the widespread academic
assumption of the non-essential, transnational and globalised notion of culture.
Section 3 discusses this by drawing on important ethnographic studies of the
European Commission by the anthropologists Cris Shore (Building Europe:
The Cultural Politics of European Integration, 2000, see also Shore 1993,
Shore and Black 1994, Shore 1995, 1997a, 1997b, 1998, 2001), Marc Abélès (1996), and Maryon McDonald
(1996.) Also incorporating material taken from discussions of European identity
taking place within, and sponsored by, the CoE, the section illustrates how
European identity has been conceptualised within these institutions, and how
policies have been put in place to forward this conception.
The rest of the paper critically
examines the view of "European identity" found in such arenas in
the light of the two phenomena (the paradigmatic shift in the understanding
of culture, and global political and economic change) noted earlier in this
"Introduction". Section 4 asks whether these conceptions and the
measures supporting them avoid the charge of cultural essentialism,
central to contemporary understandings of "culture". Section 5 then
considers briefly to what extent they take into account the realities of a
transnational, globalised world and examines how transnationalism itself apparently
provides an opportunity to stand above ethnic and national rootedness. I say
"apparently", because there are different ways of being transnational,
some more rooted than others, and we need to ask whether any of them provide
what the Prospectus calls an "alternative way of looking at transcultural
relations". On the basis of work in the field of communications and intercultural
anthropology, the Prospectus has proposed l'homme des confins as the
"symbolic figure of [a] new way of assuming one's belonging to human
culture." Quoting Daniel Bougnoux ("Being civilised today means
assuming several identities without any kind of nostalgia, without any fuss
but with detachment"), the Krakow Symposium Prospectus adds:
by little, instead of being from 'here' or 'elsewhere', we all become 'l'homme
des confins', from here and elsewhere at the same time, trying to negotiate
our own sense of belonging which respects our individual characteristics and
contributes to the universal."
In evaluating this idea, I return
to the ethnography, this time concerning those who themselves work for the
European Commission, and ask whether the experience of these "Europeans"
provides a "new way of looking at the questions of identity and alterity
and the dialogue between them in a democratic society" (Prospectus.)
My answer, briefly, is no, but the analysis reveals the need to contextualise
the issues we are discussing, and the paper concludes with discussion of how
a "multicultural" Europe might be constituted. Before embarking
on this agenda, however, let me make a preliminary assessment of the proposed
symbolic figure: L'Homme des Confins
2. L'Homme des Confins: An Exemplar of Intercultural
mazzeru est le gardien de la plus ancienne des pratiques occultes connues
en Corse. Il est également l'individu le plus complexe de la société insulaire.
Mi-homme, mi-religieux, au sens premier du terme, il est le lien entre l'au-delà
et le monde des vivants. Il est celui qui sait, qui relie, qui détient le
secret de la vie et de la mort, du bien et du mal. Ce sorcier nocturne, qui
exerce sa magie par l'intermédiaire du monde onirique, semble être l'homme
des confins. Il est le vivant aux étranges pouvoirs, qui se rend régulièrement
dans l'autre monde et qui vit aux limites des espaces sociaux et idéologiques."
The suggested approach draws on the
work of, among others, Joanne Nowicki, of the Centre d'Etudes Européennes
at l'Université de Marne-la-Vallée. Nowicki's purpose is to develop through
"intercultural dialogue" what she calls "modèles de
cohabitation culturelle en Europe", and thus move from national identity
towards "une identité des confins", as she terms it. In her 2001
paper "L'homme des confins - pour une anthropologie interculturelle",
she discusses French reluctance to countenance a concern with ideas of cultural
identity which are seen as running against the grain of hegemonic ideals of
universalism and individualism. These ideals have sought to "libérer
la personne de tout déterminisme (de race, de classe sociale, de lieu de naissance,
d'appartenance à une religion) et l'encourager à choisir son
identité en fonction de ses préférences, de ses affinités, de ses valeurs"
(quotations are from the "Préactes" to the congress at which the
paper was delivered .) From a political point of view the refusal of a concept
of cultural identity
cache la hantise de compromettre l'idéal français d'intégration de personnes
issues de cultures différentes, basé sur l'acte d'adhésion volontaire aux
valeurs partagées de la citoyenneté républicaine. Dans ce contexte, décrire
une appartenance ne paraît pas neutre car la frontière est vite franchie
entre la description et le déterminisme."
this, and mindful of the dangers of the cultural approach (she mentions Huntington),
she wishes to engage with questions of cultural identity (for example in the
context of an expanding Europe) and address the problem of "cultural
cohabitation" which she argues is "au coeur du débat démocratique".
To this end she introduces the concept of "l'homme des confins comme
figure emblématique de cette nouvelle manière de vivre son appartenance
à la culture humaine". If I read her correctly, Nowicki claims
that this concept, as well as overcoming the limitations of the French universalist
model, avoids the pitfalls of alternative models, especially those emanating
from Eastern Europe which offer the most problematic culturalist challenge
to the dominant French tradition.
It is worth pausing for a moment
to examine the French roots of this trope. The Prospectus reminds us that
while it literally means "Man of frontiers", the term is intended
to convey the meaning of "having a plural identity open to different
cultural paradigms at the same time. It is a kind of simultaneous intimacy
with several cultures (but more than a simple cosmopolitanism which is much
more superficial)". My colleague, Richard Burton, drew my attention to
a passage by the French writer and ethnographer Michel Leiris which provides
a gloss on the notion of confins. In Fourbis, Leiris is discussing
the world of the dead and certain states which he sees as between life and
death, such as the sleepwalker, the person in a coma, or the Haitian zombie.
of the marches between life and death, they are 'soit des cadavres tirés du
cimetière et artificieusement ré-animés, soit des individus dont ses
(i.e. the magician's) maléfices ont réduit ´ zéro la personalité;
such creatures may be said to be 'des confins', ainsi qu'´ sa manière est
'automate, hybride de créature vivante et de machine" (Burton, 1973:
124, quoting Fourbis, p. 28.)
aussi que le fou, le somnambule, celui qui rêve tout haut - voire simplement
qui ronfle - bref, toutes les variétés d'hommes réduits ´ n'être qu'une carcasse
dépossédée de la raison clair et comme faute de quoi l'on n'existe plus que
soi. (Burton 1973: 125, quoting Fourbis, p. 55. Burton also notes,
p. 122, that in L'Age d'Homme, 1939, Leiris describes the sound of
his father snoring as seeming to come from the other side of the grave.)
image of the Golem may also come to mind.
A remark by Touraine (1997: 314)
suggests a possible link with Simmel's conception of the "stranger",
a person who is at the same time part of a society while remaining outside
of it, and in anthropology the work of van Gennep and Victor Turner on liminal
states (see also Lalive D'Epinay, 1974, writing on Roger Bastide and "La
Sociologie des Confins".) However, in staking a claim for l'homme
des confins, I am sure that Nowicki does not want us consciously to associate
this emblematic figure with the interstices of life and death. That is, if
she wishes to imply that we are all now, or soon will be, creatures of the
marches, she only means it metaphorically. We are not intended to be like
the mazzeru of Corsican folklore: "le lien entre l'au-delà
et le monde des vivants". She is recuperating the image to establish
the possibility of an unrooted identity, one detached and at a distance from
the "centre", as illustrated perhaps in this comment on the novelist
Andreï Makine, described as:
des confins qui fit l'expérience de l'extrême, homme de lettres féru
de culture classique, homme déraciné sans feu ni lieu à défendre, Andreï
Makine est l'un des romanciers français les plus iconoclastes (http://www.auteurs.net/public/actualite/entretien.asp?d=makine)
"Homme déraciné sans feu ni lieu à défendre"? Later I will
link this image of l'homme des confins with ones found in contemporary
discussions in the anglophone literature of anthropology and cultural studies
of transnationalism, cosmopolitanism and hybridity, and consider whether
"L'Homme des Confins", as an exemplar of intercultural anthropology,
is indeed a model for future Europeans. But here I want to turn to some ethnography.
3. To Copenhagen ... and Back: Making Europeans,
Forming the People
is only one Europe, of course in all its diversity - national, regional,
linguistic, cultural, religious. This diversity is a precious common heritage,
and we must defend and protect it, so that citizens may continue to feel at
home in their town, their region, their nation, in the larger European entity
... Diversity is part of the European identity ... We have different nationalities.
We speak different languages, are attached to different towns and regions,
to different traditions, to different symbols, legends and myths. But we are
all the inheritors of a European culture which is profoundly marked by an
enigmatic and fascinating amalgam of diversity and unity. In the spirit of
such unity, we are committed to the same fundamental values and principles.
They are at the very heart of our European identity." (Walter Schwimmer,
Secretary General of the CoE, in Strasbourg C, April 2002.)
The remark about Linford Christie,
cited at the head of this paper, was made in the early 1990s by one of the
participants at a British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) workshop
held in London to discuss a programme of research on European integration.
Linford Christie, if the name is unfamiliar, was the most eminent of British
athletes of the period, and is of Afro-Caribbean origin. He is black. The
idea of a black European seemed as odd to that English academic as did the
concept of a black Italian to the interviewing official in the episode cited
by Andall (2002, likewise cited above), and the name "Ahmed" to
the French policeman in La Haine. Andall herself comments that the
episode made clear that "being black and being Italian were perceived
as mutually exclusive categories." The
anthropologist Marianne Gullestad (2001: 51) also draws attention to the Norwegian writer Mah-Ruk
Ali, whose parents are from Pakistan.
in Norway, she has passed all her childhood in Norway, she is a Norwegian
citizen, she speaks Norwegian perfectly, and she celebrates the 17th
May ... she is Norwegian, an ordinary Norwegian girl with a Pakistani background
and Muslim religion"
she is not accepted as such. These examples oblige us to examine the assumptions
underlying such conceptions of European (or British, French, Italian or Norwegian)
identity. If Ahmed can't be a Frenchman, Mah-Ruk Ali a Norwegian, and Christie
can't be a European, what does this say? The answer is not difficult, and
I return to this question below, but for now I want to consider how and why
the question of what it means to be "European" has exercised so
many minds in both policy and academic circles over the last three decades,
not least in recent years.
In December 1973, the nine, as they
then were, members of the European Community issued a declaration on European
identity. They wished, they said, in phrases echoed twenty years later in
the Maastricht Treaty (see Delgado-Moreira 1997):
ensure that the cherished values of their legal, political and moral order
are respected, and to preserve the rich variety of their national cultures.
Sharing as they do the same attitudes to life, based on a determination to
build a society which measures up to the needs of the individual, they are
determined to defend the principles of representative democracy, of the rule
of law, of social justice - which is the ultimate goal of economic progress
- and of respect for human rights. All of these are fundamental elements of
the European identity" (European Community, Copenhagen Declaration, 14
needed to be said in anticipation of applications for membership from Greece,
Portugal and Spain, countries then still under fascist rule. The nine, later
to become twelve, fifteen and more, felt it necessary to define their identity,
metaphorically marking out their territory by adherence to certain common,
basic political and social values. Such a project was important in respect
both of the future and of the past. After the Second World War several institutions
had emerged which sought to define themselves so as to construct a new world
order and draw a line under the preceding era of aggressive nationalism. In
Europe the two most important and enduring ones were what eventually became
the EU, and the CoE, a much larger organisation, based in Strasbourg, with
a broader and looser remit. Peter Schieder, President of the Parliamentary
Assembly of the CoE, recently defined it as an "international multilateral
organisation dealing with human rights, democracy and the rule of law, in
the same way as the World Trade Organisation is an international multilateral
organisation dealing with trade" (in Strasbourg C, 2002.) Democracy,
rights, the rule of law, the individual: the continuity between the classic
liberal language of the Copenhagen Declaration of 1973, and that of Peter
Schieder, an eminent member of the CoE thirty years later, is readily apparent.
There have been several occasions
when both the EU and of the CoE have engaged in debates about European identity.
As recently as 2001-2 the latter organised three colloquia on the subject
at Strasbourg (April and September 2001, and April 2002, referred to here
as Strasbourg A, B, and C), with the intention of producing their own "Declaration".
(If it appears in time I will refer to it, though it is possible that like
the long-sought "European Cultural Charter" it will be always pending,
see Garcia 1993: 27, and Lueders, 2001.) As I said earlier I am not really
concerned with the reasons why there have been these discussions, though it
is notable that they seem to coincide with periods of enlargement and debates
about who should be admitted and on what basis. The EU is about to undergo
a major growth from 15 to some two dozen members, and since 1989, the CoE,
historically a much bigger organisation, has expanded to 44 (Bosnia &
Herzegovina joined in April 2002.) In such contexts, defining who "we"
are and what "we" are becomes imperative.
In that connection the contribution
by the French journalist/historian, Alexandre Adler, to Strasbourg B seems
significant. In an interesting exercise in Realpolitik, also concerned
with boundary drawing , literally and metaphorically, Adler defines Europe
through a series of negative geopolitical contrasts. It is
a continuation of the Roman Empire, but accepts a "plurality of states and forces";
the Catholic faith: "it is fundamentally, Christian, but accepts different
versions of Christianity"; it is open to other religions (he mentions
Islam and Buddhism), but "Europe has no public religious space";
"the will to power" - the lessons of the 20th century (especially
of 1945) have been learned;
the whole West. In fact it is decidedly Not America;
a continent. In fact, regretfully, it does Not include Russia. On the other
hand it does include Turkey (or at least it should);
a state or state-like entity, and should not aspire to be such.
Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General of the CoE, however, speaking at Strasbourg
C, "'Europe' clearly means all of Europe, including the three Transcaucasus
States ... Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are part of Europe." Peter Schieder
it comes to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, there should be
only one Europe. A Europe based on one set of values, embodied in one set
of rules, protected by one mechanism. A Europe from Moscow to Brussels, from
Ankara to Luxembourg, and from Sarajevo to Strasbourg."
Thus there is one debate about European
identity which is concerned with political definitions - what kind of political
project is "Europe" and what are its boundaries? - and with what
is sometimes called Europe's "political architecture." (The CoE
has its own identity problem in defining itself as an organisation in the
light of the growing importance of the EU.) There is, however, another concerned
less with boundary questions than with questions of what it means to be a
European, which although it overlaps with the definition of Europe as a political
project (based on common democratic values etc) moves on to other terrain.
Walter Schwimmer's statement cited at the head of this section provides some
indication what this second agenda is partly about, viz. defining Europe
and European in social and cultural terms, accepting diversities, but also
stressing commonalities: a "shared but multiple identity" - the
Strasbourg colloquia's version of the EU slogan "Unity
in Diversity" adopted in the 1990s (see McDonald 1996, Shore 1998)
- and seeking a "political architecture" which will reflect this.
I return to this aspect below. But
there is also a third and again overlapping agenda. Those concerned with running
the EU and its predecessors have long sought something more than economic
integration for Europe and have been conscious of the need to give it wider
popular appeal. The Commission's problem, as officials see it, has been to
transform their "technocrats' Europe" into a "People's Europe"
(Shore 2000: 19), the title of the 1980s campaign to popularise the notion
of a European identity (Shore 1993; 1997a: 173; 2001: 31; McDonald 1996: 54.)
As Václav Havel argued it in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg,
March 8th, 1994:
reading the Maastricht Treaty, despite its historical importance, will hardly
win enthusiastic supporters for the European Union. Nor will it win patriots,
people who will genuinely experience this complex organism as their native
land or their home, or as one aspect of their home. If this great administrative
work, which obviously should simplify life for all Europeans, is to hold together
and stand various tests of time, then it must be visibly bonded by more than
a set of rules and regulations."
As is well known, during the period
of 19th and early 20th century modernisation, many nation states (certainly
in Northern and Western Europe) sought to engage their populations in processes
of national integration, what the French call nationalisation. Paradoxically,
European nationalism both affirmed and denied difference. It demanded recognition
for "national" differences (as French, German, Italian), but required
suppression of difference within national territories. In France, everyone
to be French, or rather become French. One is reminded of D'Azeglio's remark
of 1861, "Now we have made Italy, we need to make Italians" (cited
in Pratt 2002: 26, and in Shore 1995: 221.) Gelllner (1994: 104) has described
"cultural homogeneity ... the capacity for context-free communication,
the standardization of expression and comprehension"; as "one of
the most important traits of a modern society", notably absent in the
old regimes. Taylor agrees that modern societies "force a kind of homogeneity
of language and culture ... And it seems that this could not very well be otherwise
As Eugen Weber has argued (1976),
however, turning Peasants into Frenchmen (or women) was a long drawn
out process; not until the First World War would the nation be "One and
Indivisible." And in this process the role of the school was crucial.
(If, as Gramscians say, ideology is the cement holding society together, then
the school is the cement mixer.) When Rousseau advised Poles of the importance
of creating in the minds of their citizens a sense of the difference between
Poland and other nations, he sought the means above all in education:
the age of twenty a Pole must be nothing but a Pole. In learning to read he
should read nothing but material about his country. At ten, he should know
everything about its products; at twelve, he should know all about its regions,
its roads and its towns; at fifteen he should know all about its history;
at sixteen all its laws. There should be no fine deed, no hero which he does
not know about and has taken to heart (1772, in Rousseau 1964, p. 966.)
Jacobin projects, such as that outlined in the Abbé Grégoire's proposal of
1794 to eradicate the patois and universalise the use of French, sought to
ensure that in school all children would learn the language of the state.
As Talleyrand put it: 'The force of circumstances demands it' (see Grillo
1989 for discussion and sources.)
The continuity between these older themes and current debates is well illustrated
in the work of Shore who, like Abélès
and McDonald, undertook ethnographic research and interviews within
the European Commission (i.e. the European civil service) in Brussels. Shore
(2000 and elsewhere) discusses how the Commission has sought to develop the
idea of a European identity, to inculcate a sense of Europe among the EU's
diverse citizenry: the project of a European community, which as Todorov (1993:
25-6) points out goes back at least to Saint-Simon, is, says Shore (2000:
207) "perhaps the last and possibly the greatest of the Enlightenment
grand narratives" (cf. Abélès
1996: 39.) The hope is, perhaps, that "European" might become, as
did nationality in the nation-state, "a self-evident reality ... to be
taken for granted ... as an almost 'natural' quality of the person ... imprinted
in our hearts and minds" (Stolcke 1997: 72.)
In seeking to understand how and
why the European Commission has sought to give substance to what Borneman
and Fowler (1997: 492) describe as the "empty sign" of European
identity, Shore focuses closely on the project of a European culture. Shore
holds that culture is a political phenomenon, and emphasises how the concept
is employed "to mobilise and interpellate individuals" (p. 130,
see also 1998: 11.) This requires him to examine what anthropologists call
(p. 24) "indigenous" conceptions of culture, in this case those
of the EU civil servants, and he shows how their "elite conceptions of
culture and identity ... have been translated into policy" (p. 2.) EU officials,
appropriated core sociological concepts such as 'culture', 'identity', 'social
cohesion' and 'collective consciousness' as mobilising metaphors for building
'European culture', 'European identity' and 'European consciousness'"
so doing they adopt behaviourist models of social action which "reify
culture into a static, object-like entity to be intervened upon and managed"
(p. 131, cf. Kahn 1995: 132, "'Culture' is a cultural construct of the
In pursuing the "People's Europe"
agenda, the European Commission assumes the existence of a "European"
culture, which "can be developed to underpin the more technical, legal
and economic aspects of the integration process" (p. 40.) Shore claims
idea that there exists a common European culture and shared cultural heritage,
and that this can be developed to underpin the more technical, legal and economic
aspects of the integration process, has ... come to occupy a strategic place
in the thinking of EU elites [who aim] to forge a new kind of European identity
and subjectivity, a distinctly 'European' consciousness capable of transcending
nationalism and mobilising Europe's 370 million citizens towards a new image
of themselves as 'Europeans'" (Shore 1998: 12.)
one is reminded of D'Azeglio. In this shift to a "culturalist" approach
to integration (2000: 44) emphasis is placed on "symbols, history and
invented traditions" (the title of one of Shore's chapters), with a "symbolic
ordering of time, space, information, education and the media in order to
reflect the 'European dimension'" (p. 50.) A "Community history"
has been invented (see also McDonald 1996), and schemes such as educational
exchanges and "Women of Europe Awards" are seen as an integral part
of this process of Europeanisation. So was the European currency: "the
most important public symbol of European identity to date" (p. 115.)
As Shore points out "currencies are ... repositories of meaning as well
as vehicles for the expression of cultural identity" (p. 92), and he
predicts that "with or without its heavy symbolism of bridges and doorways,
the euro will act as a powerful agent in shaping people's cognitive orientation"
(p. 120, see also Schmid 2001.)
This process also involves a recuperation
of national icons (Beethoven, Comenius, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Socrates, etc)
and their incorporation into EU iconography as representatives of "European
culture", interpreted as "haute culture" (p. 62; various
EU cultural initiatives illustrate this, Shore 1998: 14.) In consequence,
Europe's cultural heritage is portrayed as a "well-established and static
'object': an organic phenomenon arising naturally from Europe's rich diversity
and centuries of shared history" (p. 52.) National cultures are
units in a greater European design. 'European culture' (or 'European civilisation'
as many officials and French historians prefer to call it) was therefore an
over-arching, encapsulating and transcendent composite of national cultures;
a greater whole than the sum of its discordant parts" (p. 54.)
The vision is homologous with the way in which EU officials see peoples
as having numerous, but concentric identities (region, nation, Europe) which
are "complementary and segmentary" (p. 51, see also Shore 1993:
784.) European culture and identity are moreover "portrayed as a kind
of moral success story" (p. 57), but also as "fragile and vulnerable"
and in need of protection (e.g. from "Americanization", see also
Shore 1997a: 171.) Shore calls this an "environmental approach"
(see my later remarks about cultural conservationism and anxiety.)
If this vision of European culture might be characterized as essentialist
and elitist, it is also ethnocentric (p. 63), what he calls a "stereotyped
'Occidentalism'" (1993: 792.) There is widespread enthusiasm for European
"core values" , as they are often called, "invariably located
in the Graeco-Roman tradition, in Judaeo-Christian ethics, Renaissance humanism
and individualism, Enlightenment rationalism and science, traditions of civil
rights, democracy, the rule of law" (p. 225.) There is an "essential
Europe" (1997a: 176) of enlightenment, democracy, liberalism, individualism.
Citing one widely distributed textbook (Duroselle 1990), Shore points
to its chapter on the Saracens and comments that in its narrative "European
civilisation" becomes "equated unequivocally as Christendom defending
itself against the resurgent forces of Islam" (p. 59.) This theme is
echoed in discussions of a "European culture-area" which appears
in EU texts, and which echo, says Shore,
old culture-area concept in early anthropological writing; the idea of a distinctive,
bounded region set apart from others by race, religion, language and habitat.
In this case Europe is also conceived as a 'civilisation' set apart from (and
above) others by Christianity, science, the Caucasian race and the Indo-European
family of languages" (p. 62.)
Shore also cites an extract from
a paper by Hélène Ahrweiler (1993) arguing in favour of a 19th century
conception of an "essential Europe" (Ahrweiler 1993: 31 ff.) and
of a European heritage. It is in effect a paean to Greek humanism (and the
Byzantine Empire) which draws on Valéry for support: "All peoples and
all lands which were in turn Romanized, Christianized and subjected - at least
mentally - to Greek discipline are thoroughly European". Ahrweiler (1993:
32, cited by Shore, p. 58) notes that in the original Valéry said "races."
Garcia's paper (1993) in the same volume mentions
Hellenism, Roman law, Christianity, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and
Romanticism in a single paragraph which refers to "core European traditions"
(Garcia 1993: 5-6 ff.) Indeed, throughout the volume there is a constant
litany, a repetition: "Athens, Rome,
Jerusalem; the Reformation, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment" (Reif
1993: 135.) Ahrweiler herself adds,
in Renanesque fashion: "What this means in effect is that Europe is a
world of historical references and memories shared by all Europeans who draw
sustenance from these teachings" (referring to several Greek and Roman
philosophers, jurists etc.) What this might say about those who cannot claim
such memories is not clear. Might not "Great things done together"
(Renan's definition of a nation) become an exclusive conception of the nation-state
if you cannot say that you and yours participated?
Shore further comments:
"As Europe consolidates ... so the boundaries separating
Europe from its Third World 'Others' have intensified - and Islam (particularly
'fundamentalism') has replaced communism as the key marker for defining the
limits of European civilisation" (2000: 63, cf. 1993: 793: "'fundamentalism'
has become Europe's latest 'Other'".)
As Mrs. Thatcher stated bluntly in an article in the Guardian
(February, 2002): "Islamism is the new Bolshevism". (See also
Borneman and Fowler 1997: 488 on the "alluring alterity" of the
Orient, and Delanty 1996: 4.3.) Islamism becomes what Europe is not, and European
identity is constructed from its opposites. Thus Garcia (1993: 14):
"It can be argued that the increasing consensus on what is considered
dangerous in Western Europe (terrorism, pollution, drugs consumption, urban
crime, on one side, and Islamic fundamentalism, uncontrolled immigration from
certain parts of the world, on the other) constitutes a substantial common
ground for sharing perceptions of what we need to be protected from, not only
as individuals but also as Europeans."
He adds that this constitutes a "cultural element which
is qualitatively different from any in the past."
As Shore argues, the enterprise of
creating a European culture and identity is beset with problems.
a European body politic is by no means an easy task. The abortive attempts
by the USSR to forge a new kind of 'Soviet Man' through state propaganda and
a strong unitary structure are testimony to the fragility of trying to mould
a 'demos' out of different nationalities through the prior establishment of
state-like institutions" (p. 20.)
should define the "core values"? And to what extent are the elitism,
cultural essentialism, and ethno/Eurocentrism of current definitions relevant
in this age of globalisation and transnationalism? It seems a curiously old-fashioned
project. The EU seeks modernity of a classic kind, "while the postmodernist
critique of the Enlightenment legacy has largely been overlooked" (Shore
2000: fn. 22, p. 39, see also p. 35, and Shore 1995: 221.)
It is hard to know how effective
EU measures to construct a "People's Europe" really are. Abélès (1996: 38) notes the sparse
and jejune character of the symbols produced sometimes after many years of
deliberation. Shore accepts the increasing importance of "bottom-up Europeanisation"
(p. 228), as a growing list of European icons and symbols from Eurostar to
the Eurovision song contest (and the euro) would seem to testify, but wonders
whether these reflect wider processes of globalisation, rather than processes
of Europeanisation, and points to the risk of confusing consumption with identity
formation (p. 229.) Moreover,
much EU architects and purists may balk at the suggestion, American television,
Japanese electronics and computer games, Indian and Chinese cuisine, clothes
manufactured in South-East Asia and Afro-Caribbean music are all now aspects
of everyday European culture" (p. 64.)
As a coda to this phase of the discussion
let me return briefly to the debates in the CoE at its three colloquia on
European identity. The CoE discussions run on parallel lines to those in the
European Commission. In many respects, the terms of the debate are quite similar,
though the CoE does not have the institutional responsibilities of the EU,
and its powers to introduce measures to implement its conclusions "on
the ground" are practically non-existent. The three colloquia in April
and September 2001 and April 2002 were organised under the auspices of the
so-called "L" countries (Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, and Luxembourg)
illustrating the role of small nations in this venture. The purpose was to
ask: "Is there a European identity? And, if there is, how does it express
itself, and how can we encourage it?" Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General
of the Council of Europe, introducing the first colloquium, noted that
launching campaigns on such issues as cultural heritage, language learning
and landscape protection, we have made Europeans more aware of the things
which unite them in spite of their diversity: we now want to go further, determine
what the concept of a European identity means for Europeans in an everyday
sense, and adjust our policy, so that it can promote and consolidate that
concept" (in Strasbourg A, 2001.)
An overview of the proceedings commented:
identity is rooted in national diversity, and emerges at the point where countries
realise that they share a common future. Fundamental rights and parliamentary
democracy, which are a reality in the CoE's 43 member states, are unquestionably
the basis of this identity today. But they, though indispensable, are not
enough to make every individual feel fully a part of a country and of Europe
too. European identity will achieve its full potential through a freely accepted
'community of values', and connect with national and regional identities to
form a varied, many-faceted concept, which will also be the source of its
strength and special features" http://www.coe.int/T/E/Communication_and_Research/Press/Themes_Files/European_identity/default.asp
The colloquia were attended by a
large and distinguished group of invited participants including academics,
diplomats, journalists, civil servants, and theologians. Some of these, notably
the academics, prepared substantial papers dealing mainly with theories of
ethnicity, identity, culture and nation, but to some extent addressing the
practical implications of those theories. The April 2001 colloquium in particular
had several papers exploring the meaning of identity from a variety of theoretical
perspectives. Marc Crépon, a researcher with the CNRS in Paris, for example,
in a paper entitled "Heterogeneous Identities" interrogated the
whole concept (of which more anon.) Others took a less deconstructionist position
emphasising that identities are multiple and often complementary (family,
town, region, country) and that the basis of these, admittedly constructed
identities, is often solid. Such institutional identities are "building
blocks", and Rasma Karklins of the University of Illinois at Chicago
argued they should be used to create unity, rather than destroyed for unity's
sake. The objective, however, is not just to add another identity to those
which exist. Franz-Lothar Altmann (German Institute for International Politics
and Security, Berlin):
identity is a reality, but it's still not obvious enough, and it's hard to
say, 'I feel European first' ... when you feel European, you are saying: 'I'm
a Bavarian and a German, but I'm also part of something bigger and more complex
...To be genuinely real, European identity has to transcend all frontiers. After
all, identity does not stop at customs posts!"
not just "first Latvian, then European", an example discussed by
Karklins, but as Peteris Elferts, of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
are now searching for a vision of a European community which is capable of
creating its own 'mystique'. After all, even 'national states' are imagined
communities built on powerful myths, besides foundations such as language
and common historical experience."
was necessary, therefore, to attempt to alter the priority, and, argued Altmann,
give this identity emotional content, adding: "The question is whether
this emotional content is constructed by political will or can develop just
by itself in the course of history."
For the Reverend Father Laurent Mazas
of the Pontifical Council of Culture, Holy See, the answer was in education.
Asking whether it was possible "to integrate certain peoples whose identity
characteristics are so very different from the majority culture?" He
expressed the view that:
political authority capable, on the contrary, of having an educating influence,
and keen to do all that it can to ensure that the values at the heart of European
civilisation remain the stable foundation for our modern changing societies
will be rewarded with confident support. So there can be no policy for a European
identity without an education policy."
himself took the position that they must "try to outline an identity
that is common to all the different peoples of Europe and then to come up
with ideas for promoting - or preserving? - this common identity". For
him, the source of that identity was in culture ("The identity of a given
people comes from its culture, which is rooted in creative skills and in a
capacity to adapt to both other human beings and natural surroundings"),
hence "care must be taken not to reduce Europe's identity to its mere
political identity". Anne-Marie Thiesse, CNRS Director of Research, believed
(like Ahrweiler) that a European identity rested on culture, history, and
values: "The history of the European peoples, from the Athenian democracy
to democratic aspirations, has bequeathed us a heritage of humanist and universal
values, on the basis of which an open, unifying and tolerant identity should
Denis Driscoll (an Irish political
scientist), summarising the first colloquium concluded that
construction of identity uses building blocks from history, from myth or mythology,
from religion, from language, from law, and indeed, I would have thought from
psychology which gives us ... a profound sense of belonging ...For me the question
then is: do these building blocks construct an edifice, a building, that is
him this was "probably rights", and his insight seemed to provide
the keynote for the remaining colloquia. Thus by the time of the third colloquium,
with Walter Schwimmer admitting that "European identity may be difficult
to define, and its component parts not easy to make out, as the earlier colloquies
have shown", though "it certainly does exist", the debate had
moved out of the arenas of identity and culture and more towards those of
politics, law and international relations (compare and contrast the programmes
listing the presentations at the three colloquia, as well as the participants.)
To that extent it moved back to the agenda summarised in the Copenhagen Declaration,
where it might be said to have started. Thus, if, as Walter Schwimmer proposed
at Strasbourg B, Europe is a "a community of shared values in a given
geographical area", those shared values were quintessentially political.
It was Europe's (supposed) political culture, its shared liberal values,
which defined Europe.
4. Culture and Identity:
Essentialist Perspectives and Their Critics
There are two objections to this project of European identity: its profoundly
problematic underlying theory of culture, community and identity (as Shore
himself makes clear), and its imperviousness to processes of globalisation
and transnationalism. The theory of culture is the concern of the present
section and initially I must state, for the record, what may seem some obvious
and basic points.
There is ambiguity, indeed several
ambiguities, in the notion of culture itself. An important contribution to
this discussion has been made by Adam Kuper in a long and powerful book published
in 1999 (see also Kuper 1994 and ed. 1992.) It is a major overview of the
way in which culture has been conceptualised in a number of different (national)
intellectual traditions. The principal ambiguity is, of course, between "culture"
in the sense of "high" culture, which is the usual, ordinary definition
(as in the British "Secretary of State for Culture"), and "culture"
in the more or less traditional anthropological sense (derived from Tylor
and Boas) of the way of life of a people. This latter understanding of culture
has become more widespread and commonplace than in the past, especially in
social and political discourse around difference and its recognition. As Kuper
points out, however, there was traditionally in French thought a close connection
with the idea of a higher culture and civilisation, understood as "transnational
civilization" (Kuper 1999: 31, cf. Melhuus 1999: 69): "they"
have culture, "we" have civilisation. Thus, Wikan (1999)
argues, this usage of culture - like "ethnic" - appears typically
in discussion of "minority" cultures (i.e. the culture of regional
minorities and of those of immigrant origin), though nowadays it also figures,
perhaps increasingly, in accounts of the problems faced by British (English)
culture in the face of pressures from the US on the one hand, and Europe (the
EU) on the other (cf. Melhuus, 1999: 76, who also takes issue with Wikan on
In France and Italy, the notion of
culture has a further ambiguity (which is to some extent present in English
- e.g. the "culture of flowers", cf the double entendre in the title
of Goody's 1993 book) relating to upbringing and then specifically education.
When a teacher in Lyons once said to me, of North Africans, "They have
no culture", I was taken aback. For an anthropologist to say of a people
"they have no culture" is tantamount to depriving them of their
humanity. She did not mean to do that, but "only" to say they were
uneducated (so what could you expect of them!) The German conception of Kultur,
on the other hand, sustained the view that a specific culture defined a
people, and in a sense it is there that the problem begins (Kuper 1999:
There is a need, then, in the first
instance, for anthropologists and others to distinguish between three phenomena:
(a) "Culture", in the standard,
if old-fashioned, Tylorian sense of a way of life etc (cf. Brumann 1999: S5.)
Like language, culture in this sense undoubtedly exists and we all have it
(which was why I was startled to be told that North Africans "have no
(b) "Culture" in the sense
of "my" culture, the specific way of life that I have and perhaps
share with others. The old notion of "high" culture can be included
here, along lines suggested by Gellner when he argued that "in the industrial
age only high cultures in the end effectively survive. Folk cultures and little
traditions survive only artificially, kept going by language and folklore
preservation societies" Gellner (1983: 117.) Here he is following
the South Asianist distinction between "Great" and "Little"
traditions, though positing a dynamic relationship between them.
(c) "A culture", that
is with culture as the property of an identifiable collectivity, and hence
cultures (plural and countable) consisting of identifiable peoples
who are carriers of that culture (cf. Kahn 1995: ix, Parekh 2000: 2-3, and
Melhuus 1999: 70, who refers to the "specificities of being Norwegian
The distinction between "culture"
and "cultures" in senses (a) and (c) is well made by Jef Verschueren
(2000, published in Catalan as Verschueren 2001b, cf. Verschueren 2001a, cf.
Brumann 1999: S6.) Verschueren argues:
plural form cultures should be avoided. There are cultural
differences and contrasts (which, when in contact, are often responsible
for change) but these do not amount to clusters of features that are
identifiable, let alone separable, coherent entities. Though culture is
a universal human phenomenon (related to a unique cognitive development),
cultures do not exist in any real sense of 'existence'"
further initial contrast needs to be drawn, however, between two alternative
conceptions, visions, doctrines, ideologies, discourses of a "culture".
One, shared by many contemporary social scientists and critical theorists
in the Anglophone world, is a dynamic and anti-essentialist conception
() in which cultures and communities
are seen as socio-historically (and politically) constructed (dialectically
from above and below), and in constant flux; Baumann (1999: 90) refers to
it as a "processual" theory. The emphasis is on multiple identities
or identifications whose form and content are continuously being negotiated.
Shore (1993: 783) puts it very well:
identities are fluid, dynamic and contextual, rather than fixed or static.
They are also negotiated and contested fictions that are continually being
constructed reconstructed in an ongoing, and to some extent dialectical, process
of definition, self-definition and counter-definition" (see also Wright
is thus "an enactive, enunciatory site" (Bhabha 1994: 178), and
all cultures, culture bearers, cultural agents, are constantly engaged in
processes of creolisation (Hannerz 1987 etc.) Questions of "tradition"
and "authenticity" are irrelevant, other than as part of the political
rhetoric that arises around culture as a site of struggle, or simply as "inventions"
(Hobsbawm and Ranger eds 1983, cf. Brumann 1999.) Kuper (1999: 216), surveying
the position taken by many anthropologists working within the American tradition,
summarises it thus: "In a world in which all cultures were hybrids, all
cultural boundaries punctured and contested, traditional conceptions of culture
no longer made sense".
This "new" account of culture (Wright 1998a) may be contrasted with
the second ("old") vision (Baumann, 1999: 90, calls it "essentialist",
but I prefer "culturalist"), which stresses the way in which a
culture (the culture to which I am said to belong or claim to belong) defines
my essence. Cultures, seen as static, finite and bounded ethnolinguistic blocs
labelled "French", "German", "Italian", "European"
etc, are said to determine individual and collective identities, and the subject's
place in social and political schemas. The importance of cultural membership
in this sense is that it becomes virtually synonymous with ethnicity. The
principal community attachments which define peoples and their identities
are "ethnic" (ethnic communities being defined by their "cultures".)
Parekh (2000: 154): "Indeed, since every culture is the culture of a
particular group of people, its creator and historical bearer, all cultures
tend to have an ethnic basis"; and Augé (1999b: 99): "The Bambara,
the Dogon ... are thus essentially - in the philosophic sense of that word -
defined by the cultures of which each is conceived to be the undifferentiated
expression". Moreover, these attachments, this identity, this culture,
are seen as "historic", "rooted", "authentic",
"traditional". This in turn readily leads to the idea that people(s)
may be deprived of their culture, and thence to what I call "cultural
conservationism", a mode of thinking, present in many forms of multiculturalism,
in which cultural authenticity is something that must be preserved, and protected,
like a rare species . This culturalist-essentialist view of culture and ethnicity
may also sometimes entail a more or less biological determinism, with cultural
traits and differences seen in effect as "bio-cultural" ("fixed,
solid almost biological", Gilroy 1987: 39), and hence inheritable (see
There is an obvious disjunction between
these two visions, one intellectual and academic, the other popular and common
sense, and I discuss this gap further below. Nonetheless, Baumann is right
to argue that the opposition is not quite as clear-cut as might appear (1999:
90 ff.), and it is possible to observe a kind of "third way" which
is probably the one most commonly found in EU and CoE circles. Certainly,
two very influential British writers, one an anthropologist, the other a political
scientist, seem at times to hover between the two. Gellner, for example, although
he referred to culture as a "continuing process" (1987: 168), in
his writing about nationalism (and in this he is followed by many of those
commenting on and/or criticising his theories) offers a rather simplistic
view of "culture". "Culture" (as way of life, language
etc) is the property of a group (sometimes of a class or social category -
intelligentsia, peasantry) which may be sought out in distant places or otherwise
appropriated, and which has an important "function" in modern societies.
A homogeneous culture of the kind fostered by nationalism, he argued, was
a prerequisite for modernity. Moreover: "The high (literate) culture
in which they have been educated is, for most men, their most precious investment,
the core of their identity, their insurance, and their security"
(1983: 111, my emphases.)
Likewise for Parekh, on the one hand
a culture "has no essence" (2000: 175): it is a "historically
created system of meaning and significance" (2000: 143), "constantly
contested, subject to change ... its identity ... never settled, static and free
of ambiguity" (p. 148) [fn. 2, p. 350, refers to enthusiastically to
Bhabha's work], "not a passive inheritance but an active process of creating
meaning" (pp. 152-3.) Presenting an excellent critical discussion of
Herder (pp. 69-78 passim), whose ideas were so influential in the formation
of the culturalist vision, he goes on to distinguish between culturalism and
"naturalism", i.e. the view that human nature is "unchanging,
unaffected in its essentials by culture and society", and distances himself
from both (pp. 11, 114.) Adopting a position close to that which many contemporary
theorists would take in relation to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis on the relationship
between language and thought, he concludes that "human beings are neither
determined by their culture, nor are they transcendental beings whose inner
core or basic nature remains wholly unaffected by it" (p. 158.) And yet
he also takes the position that human beings are "culturally embedded"
(p. 10, see also p. 69), and cultures "unique human creations that reconstitute
and give different meaning and orientation to those properties that all human
beings share in common, add new ones of their own, and give rise to different
kinds of human beings" (p. 122, my emphasis.) Moreover, "membership
of a cultural community ... structures and shapes the individual's personality
in a certain way and gives it a content and an identity" (156.) It provides
its members with "a sense of rootedness, existential stability, the feeling
of belonging to an ongoing community of ancient and misty origin, and ease
of communication" (p. 162.)
Kahn would seem to have a point:
"Despite ... taking on board the postcolonial critique, we cannot seem
to escape the representation of cultural difference in realist and/or essentialist
modes" (1995: 8.) Yet it is here that one can discern a view of culture
and identity which while sharing some of the features of both the "old"
and "new" visions, in fact represents a distinctive perspective,
and one which is highly influential in the EU and CoE. The full-blown essentialist
vision has hardly any presence in the Strasbourg colloquia (there are no ethno-nationalists,
for example), and indeed its weaknesses are fully spelled out in papers by
Karklins and Crépon.) The nearest to it is the position taken by Mazas of
the Pontifical Council of Culture that "the identity of a given people
comes from its culture." (See also Pontifical Council for Culture, 1999:
"Cultural rootlessness, which has so many causes, shows how important
cultural roots are. It contributes to a loss of people's social and cultural
identity and dignity.") Certainly there are those, like Driscoll, who
seeking the common ground, ask whether this or that motif (e.g. human rights)
gives us an insight into the "quintessence" of European identity,
is "quintessentially" European. On the other hand, out and out anti-essentialists
are few and far between: indeed they are represented only in the paper by
Crépon, who so far as I know was present (invited?) only at Strasbourg A.
The majority take a position which could be construed as very close to that
of Gellner (who was cited at Strasbourg A, as was Benedict Anderson; see also
Elferts's use of the phrase "imagined community".)
This third way may be characterised
as "socio-historical/political". National identities are not natural,
they are constructed, but this is a long and difficult process, and national
identities carry a great deal of emotional and other weight. This means they
are difficult to dislodge, and the best policy is to recognise this and use
them, and the regional identities of which they are often composed, as building
blocks. One of the reasons for the failure of the Soviet Union to create a
"transnational" Soviet identity is because it forgot the importance
of this (Altmann in Strasbourg C, 2002.) Nonetheless, we all have multiple
identities (Driscoll: "we do truly have a plurality of identities"),
and there is no reason why these should not be complementary: region AND nation;
nation and region AND Europe. Thus. Pierre Hassner, Professor of Political
Science at the Centre for International Study and Research in Paris:
regional and national identities all become relative when you see them in
terms of a larger one - but they can all complement one another too. The European
project wants to encourage this complementarity, not wipe out the various
Karklins (speaking I think as an American of Latvian origin):
speaking, all people belong to at least two communities, the territorial civic
community of the state and an ethnic community. Ideally the two identities
are congruous in a mono-ethnic state, or are harmoniously arranged in a multi-ethnic
state. If a state is built from several nations, it ideally represents a 'community
At this point the discussion seems
to move on to the terrain of the "political architecture" of multiculturalism,
something I return to later, but first a short detour around anthropology's
very own "culture wars", as they have been called.
Marc Augé has remarked that "in
France at least there has never been more talk of culture: culture as it pertains
to the media, young people, immigrants. The intensive use of this word, more
or less uncontrolled, is itself a piece of ethnological data" (1999b:
39.) Unni Wikan (1999), in a trenchant discussion of how a particular concept
of culture (what I have called the "culturalist" vision; Wikan in
her 1999 paper calls it simply the "old model", p. 62) has become
"loose on the streets of Norway ... 'Culture' has run astray. And it is now being used
helterskelter to promote all kinds of special interests" (p. 57, cf. Wright 1998b:
4), attacks its (mis)use in public discourse about immigrants. She adds:
notion of culture as static, fixed, objective, consensual and uniformly shared
by all members of a group is a figment of the mind that anthropologists have
done their share to spread. So is the idea that culture compels people to
act in certain ways, as if they did not have motivation or will" (p.
1999 paper, and other publications (notably Wikan 1995) raise the question
of the extent to which anthropology is grounded in cultural essentialism.
It also poses the difficult question, for those who wish to retain a notion
of "culture" or "cultural rights", of whether such notions
are irredeemably essentialist. Wikan says: "it is not possible to advocate
cultural rights and human rights equally at the same time" (p. 63), and
herself supports the view that "the integrity of each human being needs
to be respected, at the expense of respect for culture if necessary"
(ibid.) A further question is, then, whether there is a non-essentialist
way of talking about culture and cultural rights?
There are a number of problems with
Wikan's position, including her charges against anthropology (see Melhuus
1999 for a detailed critique.) Adam Kuper's 1999 book and earlier papers are
helpful here. Although dealing with a variety of traditions, Kuper is largely
concerned with the way in which a particular conceptualisation of culture
(its "central project", p. x) has dominated the anthropological
tradition of the United States, and has latterly taken the form of "an
extreme relativism and culturalism, the program of Geertz, but stripped of
all reservations", p. 206.) His conclusion is in certain respects on
similar terrain to Wikan's:
more one considers the best modern work on culture by anthropologists, the
more advisable it must appear to avoid the hyper-referential word altogether,
and to talk more precisely of knowledge, or belief, or art, or technology,
or tradition, or even of ideology ... The difficulties become most acute when
... culture shifts from something to be described, interpreted, and even perhaps
explained, and is treated instead as a source of explanation in itself"
(Kuper 1999: x-xi.)
Now, unlike Kuper, I do not wish
to dispose of the word culture, though I share many of his reservations. I
therefore agree with Sahlins (1999: 415) that "in an important sense,
people do share a culture and are committed to it", though I depart from
him when he adds:
"They share a mode of existence and become a kind of being, or a species
thereof. Indeed, they become a historical people: subject and agent
of history, with a common memory, if only because they have a common destiny".
many respects both Kuper and Wikan are writing against the background of an
old dispute within Anglophone anthropology between what was previously presented
as a "British-style" emphasis on social structure (derived from
French, and British, structural functionalism), hence "social" anthropology
, and an "American" style emphasis on culture (derived from German-influenced
Boasian "cultural" anthropology.) Certainly some anthropologists
sometimes espouse the static view of culture assumed by Wikan, but this is
not as general or as generalised as Wikan and perhaps Kuper seem to imply,
certainly not in the last forty years. Indeed, in replying to an earlier formulation
of this critique (Kuper 1994), Marshall Sahlins defends the (American) tradition
in which he himself operates, and refutes the idea of culture attributed by
Kuper and others to older-style American anthropology. "It is astonishing",
he argues, "from the perspective of North American cultural anthropology
to claim that our intellectual ancestors constructed a notion of cultures
as rigidly bounded, separated, unchanging, coherent, uniform, totalized and
systematic" (Sahlins 1999: 404.) "Ethnography", he adds (p.
411) "has always known that cultures were never as bounded, self-contained
and self-sustaining as postmodernism pretends that modernism pretends."
Certainly, cultural relativism in
its extreme form, as in the strong version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis with
its supposition of linguistic determinism and cultural incommensurability,
the idea that no cultural subject can communicate with/be understood by a
subject from another culture (see further below) is undoubtedly a prime candidate
for the charge of cultural essentialism, and any anthropology which rests
on such propositions might rightfully be placed in the same dock. But the
dynamic conception of culture avoids the pitfall of incommensurability, and
is thus not necessarily exposed to the same criticism. Kuper in fact recognises
that contemporary American anthropology tries to steer clear of essentialism,
representing its position as:
ethnography should represent a variety of discordant voices, never coming
to rest, and never (a favorite term of abuse) 'essentializing' a people or
a way of life by insisting on a static representation of what, for example,
'the Balinese' think, or believe, or feel, or do - let alone what 'Balinese
culture' amounts to" (1999: 208.)
accepts that American anthropologists "repudiate the popular notion that
differences are natural, and that cultural identity must be grounded in a
primordial, biological identity", p. 239. However, he then adds: "but
a rhetoric that places great emphasis on difference is not best placed counter
these views" (ibid.) He also argues that attempts to evade essentialism
by "mak[ing] identity into a cultural construct" which then "invests
a person with an identity". (p. 241), end as "doubly essentialist":
"one has an essential identity, and this derives from the essential character
of the collectivity to which one belongs" (p. 238.) Moreover, this emphasis
on culture makes it seem "the only power in the land" (p. 241),
and cultural claims - as opposed to those relating to poverty and welfare,
for example - the only ones of significance to minorities (cf. Wikan 1999
passim on this point.)
The implications for discussions
of "European identity" are perhaps apparent, but before spelling
them out, let me explore further the essentialist foundations of some of these
views. "Cultural essentialism" I take to refer to systems of belief
grounded in a conception of human beings as "cultural" (and territorial
and national) subjects, i.e. as bearers of a "culture" located
within a boundaried world, which defines them and differentiates them from
others. (See inter alia Grillo 1998, Werbner 1997, among many others.)
Parekh's detailed discussion (2000: 77-8) of what he terms "fallacies"
in the thinking of Herder and others (including he says anthropologists: they
"mar the otherwise excellent works of Durkheim, Malinowski, Ruth Benedict
and other writers", fn. 7, p. 348) sets out criticisms which apply equally
well to cultural essentialism. These include the fallacies of holism, distinctiveness,
historicism, closure, ethnicization of culture, cultural determinism, cultural
autonomy, of treating "culture as a self-acting collective agent"
(i.e. reification), and of "dissociat[ing] culture from the wider political
and economic structure of society". I would only add only that cultural
essentialists believe that culture determines subjectivity and personality,
and note, pace Parekh, that many of these criticisms would be made
by contemporary anthropologists themselves (see Kuper 1999.)
Although in intellectual terms cultural
essentialism may be an adjunct of classic, biological racism, as well as of
the so-called "new" (cultural) racism, and of what has been termed
"cultural fundamentalism" (see below), it should be seen as something
sui generis, a specific idea with a lengthy political and social history
in Europe. It is closely bound up with the creation of the nation and of the
nation-state as the primary building block of political society, local and
global, since the 18th century. Certainly cultural essentialism may be found
in other societies and other epochs, for example in the Ottoman, Hapsburg,
and Tsarist empires, but historically, at least in the last two to three centuries,
it has been strongly associated with (I cannot say stems from) [German] Romantic
Cultural essentialism has been widely discussed in connection with debates
about multiculturalism and the so-called "new racism" (e.g. Modood
1998 who tries to reclaim some ground from the anti-essentialists.) I do not
wish to engage with the long-standing and often futile argument about what
constitutes racism. (Back et al make excellent point that it is necessary
to "understand racism as a multiply inflected and
changing discourse that organizes and defines human attributes along racial
lines that code in an exclusive way the definition of identity, entitlement
and belonging", 2001: 6.) Suffice to say that there is wide agreement
that classic racism, racism sensu stricto, of the kind which emerged
strongly in the 19th century and played such a large part in 20th century
politics, was grounded in biological essentialism and determinism,
the idea that human beings could be placed neatly into groups based on physical
characteristics, or more deeply their genetic make-up, and that an individual's
personality and likely behavior could be read off from that membership(). During the 1980s, however, writers
in Britain and France detected the prevalence of a so-called "new racism",
a "cultural racism", which was the name given to the enunciation
of difference on cultural grounds (e.g. between British or French and immigrants)
of the kind found in public statement by politicians of the extreme right
such as Jean-Marie Le Pen. Thus Taguieff:
"La 'racialisation' des lexiques
de la culture, de la religion, des traditions et des mentalités, voire des
imaginaires spécifiques, a produit la surgissement d'une grande diversit é
de reformulations non expressément biologisantes du racisms. Le discours raciste
s'est pour ainsi dire 'culturalisé ' ou 'mentalisé ', en abandonnant (parfois
de façon ostentatoire) le vocabluaire explicite de la 'race' et du 'sang',
en délaissant dans les rituelles métaphores biologiques et zoologiques"
racism is usually conceived of as classic racism in "disguised"
form, articulated through the language of (essentialist) cultural differences
(Barker 1981, Policar 1990, Seidel 1980, 1986, Taguieff 1988, 1990, Todorov
1993.) This shift to a language of cultural racism in which the (new) right
re-presented itself in the late 1970s and 1980s, and marshalled a counter-left
consensus (as in Britain), with neo-liberalism and nationalism at its core
(Taguieff 1990, cf. Seidel 1986) occurred, it was argued, because it was no
longer possible to speak in public of perceived difference through the language
of the "old racism" which events of the 20th century had so thoroughly
discredited. Thus, a crucial point about the "new racism" was that
it was a subterfuge, a form of veiled speech hiding "real" racism
from the public gaze (cf. Wright 1998b: 6.) Those who spoke of cultural difference
would, it was implied, have talked about old-style racial difference if they
had felt free to do so, and maybe did in their inner circles and esoteric
literatures (Seidel 1980, 1986.)
Although cultural racism of this
sort did and does exist, I do not think that more traditional forms of racism
exist only in private or are articulated only in coded speech. This happens,
and I am sure is an important factor, but as Gilroy and others have pointed
out (e.g. Gilroy 1987), this did not hinder more traditional racism on the
street and in popular reactions. Back et al 2001 provide many examples,
though at the same time their analysis emphasises the difficulties involved
in interpreting what happens in practice in everyday life, on the streets,
and in football grounds, and reading off from it a simplistic account of hooliganism,
racism and fascism. Nonetheless, I am not sure that the arguments of the philosophical
right in France or the Salisbury Review in Britain cut much ice outside
of their own intellectual circles. In fact the hostility that exists at street
level is sometimes scarcely worth the designation "racist" (sensu
stricto) if by that we mean beliefs grounded in and articulated through
theorized accounts of difference rooted in biology, of the kind found in the
19th century or in eugenics, for instance, or in apparently historically based
and intellectualised forms of anti-Semitism, or even culturally racist. When
the five young white men approached the black teenager Stephen Lawrence in
South London with the phrase "Wot, wot, nigger?" I doubt whether
it was with a highly theorised conception of difference in their minds, biological
or other, or indeed much else besides murderous intent. (Back et al
comment that few British football "hooligans" begin to comprehend
the policies of racist groups such as the National Front or the British National
Party, 2001: 26.) This is not to deny that common sense xenophobia (as we
might call it, common sense à la
Gramsci, cf. Back et al 2001: 123-4, "common-sense,
demotic, popular racism"), while it exists apart from theorised or intellectualised
forms of xenophobia or racism found elsewhere, is nonetheless dependent upon
A further aspect of cultural racism
requires clarification. Taguieff has argued that "racism can be articulated
in terms of race or culture ...[It] does not just biologize the cultural, it
acculturates the biological." Distinguishing between "discriminatory"
(the classic form) and "communitarian" racism, he argues that the
latter "establishes difference or group identity as an absolute ... The
human species is broken down into self-contained, closed totalities. The differentialist
imperative is the need to preserve the community as is, or to purify it."
(1990: 117, cf. Wieviorka 1995: 43.) Thus, cultural differences are "naturalized"
and rendered "totally unbridgeable" Policar 1990: 105.) Todorov
(1993: 90-4) puts it slightly differently and in a manner which I prefer.
Drawing a distinction between the practices of "racism" and the
ideologies/doctrines of "racialism", he sees these as constituted
by five principles: the existence of races; the continuity between physical
type and character; the action of the group on the individual; unique hierarchy
of values; knowledge-based policies, i.e. the need to act on the above. He
then adds that rejection of the first principle may leave the other principles
intact and thus lead to a "culturalism that is in other respects very
similar to racialism" (Todorov 1993: 94.)
Todorov traces these developments
to 19th century thinkers such as Renan()
and Taine whose ideas "prefigure" this kind of racialism:
term 'race', having already outlived is usefulness, will be replaced by the
much more appropriate term 'culture'; declarations of superiority and inferiority
... will be set aside in favor of a glorification of difference ... What will
remain unchanged ... is the rigidity of determinism (cultural rather than physical,
now) and the discontinuity of humanity, compartmentalized into cultures that
cannot and must not communicate with one another effectively ... In our day,
racist behaviours have clearly not disappeared ... but the discourse that legitimizes
them is no longer the same; rather than appealing to racialism, it appeals
to nationalist or culturalist doctrine, or to the 'right to difference'"
Todorov 1993: 156-7.
the 1980s and 1990s there was a debate in France (which was to some degree
reflected in the UK) concerning the validity of according ethnic and cultural
difference any kind of political or social respect. Taguieff's account of
cultural racism has been particularly influential in setting the terms of
this debate. There is, says, Silverman a "demonization of difference"
(1999: 58) in republican France. It was at the very least treated as an "irritant,
a stain, a sign of parochialism, backwardness and tradition which needed to
be removed in the name of civilization, enlightenment and progress" (1999:
41). More severely, it was frequently held that "any concession to 'Anglo-Saxon'
concepts of ethnic identity is simply a reinforcement of Le Pen's exclusivist
brand of cultural nationalism, or, worse still, an endorsement of the racial
policies of Nazi Germany and South African apartheid" (1999: 58.) Thus
to accord recognition to demands for "respect for difference" or
the "right to difference" was to pander to the new right which had
recuperated the liberal language for its own purposes. (Silverman 1991: 469,
1999: 47.) This is what Taguieff meant when he referred (1988: 15) to "la
reformulation implicite du 'racisme' dans le vocabulaire de la différence",
and "l'Apartheid au nom du droit ´ la différence, l'exclusion
au nom de la tolérance" (Taguieff 1988: 336.) By "respecting
difference", the anti-racist is assuming the very difference (of
race or culture in the essentialist sense) which the racist applauds. For
the left, the language of difference was ipso facto racist.
I would myself argue that the problem
is not difference as such, but elevating difference into an absolute,
fundamental, humanity-defining trait, and using it as justification for the
refusal of mixing: ("mixophobia", Taguieff 1988: 490, 1990: 120),
as when the "thesis of inassimilability of non-European immigrants and
the racialist overlapping of biological and cultural arguments are used to
promote respect for differences" (Taguieff 1990: 116-7.) Rather as Parekh
remarks of Herder that he "cherishes a cultural plural world but
not a culturally plural society" (2000: 73), Todorov comments
"contemporary xenophobia accommodates itself perfectly well to the call
for the 'right to be different': an entirely consistent relativist may demand
that all foreigners go home, so they can live surrounded by their own values"
(1993: 60). But this kind of difference recognition is not the same as that
which is grounded in non-essentialist forms of acknowledging and respecting
differences, e.g. respecting differences of religious practice. If we do not
draw this distinction then we are in danger of throwing the (cultural) baby
out with the (racist) bathwater. As Taguieff himself says (1988: 486) "La
barbarie particulariste de la différence et de l'exclusion ne doit pas faire
oublier la barbarie universaliste de l'inégalité et de l'uniformisation".
And surely he is right when he adds: "Face ´ la différence et l'universalité,
le commencement de l'erreur est de prendre parti pour l'une, l'exclusion de
l'autre" (1988: 490).
Where there is a naturalising or
"biologising" of culture, "cultural racism" would indeed
seem an appropriate term. But a number of writers, myself included, have argued
that besides cultural racism in the senses defined by Barker, Policar, Taguieff,
Wright(), and to a lesser degree Todorov,
there is another, related phenomenon with similar discursive motifs, which
is also sometimes called "cultural racism", but which needs to be
distinguished from it as something sui generis (Wieviorka 1997b: 31).
I refer to what Stolcke calls "cultural fundamentalism" (see also
Amselle 1998: 39 ff.), and Gilroy 1987: 59, "ethnic absolutism".
I think that Todorov's "culturalism" is closer to this form of differentiation
than it is to biologised cultural racism.
Stolcke's account of cultural fundamentalism
(like that of many of the writers cited here) points to the rise of a "rhetoric
of exclusion and inclusion that emphasises the distinctiveness of cultural
identity, traditions, and heritage among groups and assumes the closure of
culture by territory" (1995: 2) She continues:
than asserting different endowments of human races, contemporary cultural
fundamentalism ... emphasizes differences of cultural heritage and their incommensurability"
Incommensurability() , the idea certainly found in some
anthropological accounts that differences between cultures are unbridgeable
(Taguieff refers to "incommunicability, incommensurability, and incomparability",
1990: 117, see also Gellner 1987: 167-8, Policar 1990: 104, Kuper 1994: 539,
Wieviorka 1997: 56, Parekh 2000: 69 etc), is one of two basic assumptions
of cultural fundamentalism. The other is that "relations between cultures
are by 'nature' hostile and mutually destructive because it is in human nature
to be ethnocentric; different cultures ought, therefore, to be kept apart
for their own good" (Stolcke 1995: 5.)
I agree with Stolcke that it is "misleading to see in the contemporary
anti-immigration rhetoric of the right a new form of racism, or racism in
disguise" (p. 4.) Though "hostility against extracommunitarian immigrants
may have racist overtones, and metaphors can certainly be mixed" (p.
8), the "contemporary rhetoric of exclusion", she continues, "thematizes
... relations between cultures by reifying cultural boundaries and difference"
(p. 12.) Moreover, although the discourse of cultural fundamentalism may refer
to "blood" or "race", "there is more to this culturalist
discourse than the idea of insurmountable essential cultural differences or
a kind of biological culturalism" (p. 5), i.e. of the sort detected by
Taguieff. Differently from classic racism, cultural fundamentalism "segregates
cultures spatially" (p. 8), i.e. not hierarchically. Cultural fundamentalism
and classic racism are "alternative doctrines of exclusion" (p.
7), though the same utterance may contain elements of both discourses, and
Wieviorka's categories of old-style racism ("infra", "fragmented",
"political" and "state", 1995: 38-9) could equally well
be applied to (biologized) cultural racism or to cultural fundamentalism.
A further distinction is necessary, however, between cultural fundamentalism
and cultural essentialism as such. Cultural fundamentalism is grounded
in cultural essentialism, but essentialist doctrines of culture do not
necessarily give rise to culturalist discourses of the kind to which Stolcke
refers. Cultural essentialism is, I repeat, the idea that culture in the anthropological
sense determines individual and collective identities. As well as being an
integral component of some kinds of anthropology (or of anthropology generally
at some stages in its history) we can observe this cultural essentialism in
situations as diverse as
perceptions of minority populations (regional or ethnic);
regional and ethnic minority populations themselves, as for example in (some
versions of) Welsh or English or Irish nationalism;
and cross-culturally, as in national stereotypes of self and other.
these and other instances we may also observe languages of claims and rights.
In commenting on Stolcke's paper, Terence Turner correctly remarks that cultural
fundamentalism (here I would prefer to say "essentialism") is not
confined to right-wing xenophobes: "an often equally fundamentalist [sc.
essentialist] multiculturalism is becoming the preferred idiom in which minority
ethnic and racial groups are asserting their right to a full and equal role
in the same societies" (in Stolcke 1995: 17.) Cultural essentialism means
demanding the right for Ulster Protestants (or Catholics) to walk down the
"Nationalist Garvaghy Road" in defence of one's "tradition"
That cultural essentialism may underpin multiculturalism in Europe and elsewhere
is well-known (cf. Vertovec 2001.) There and elsewhere there is also often
(though not always) a conflation of national, ethnic and cultural identity
in categorising "multicultural" populations. Whereas in Africa,
say, ethnicity has rarely been conflated with nationality, it has been in
Europe, and there and in North America this conflation is now very frequently
employed in the context of migration where it is used as the basis for the
ethnic identity of "others" in the receiving society: "Irish"
and "Pakistanis" in Britain, "Mexicans" and "Vietnamese"
in the US, "Senegalese" and "Moroccans" in Italy or France,
"Turks" in Germany. This ethnicisation of "other" national
categories (cf. Maritano 2002, Zinn 2002) bears all the hallmarks of cultural
essentialism. In Italy, as Pratt (2002) puts it, "an Italian thief is
a thief, a Moroccan thief is a Moroccan." Although Wieviorka is right
in theory when he says that "La diversité culturelle ne se réduit en
aucune façon ´ l'images d'unités incommensurables
les unes aux les autres et dont les membres partages des caractéristiques
communes" (1997b: 56), in practice this happens all too often. This "vague
and lazy" multiculturalism which thinks of cultures as "closed and
complete totalities" (Augé 1999b: 52) and "turns children into cultural
photocopies and adults into cultural dupes" (Baumann 1999: 84) bears
a strong ideological resemblance to some forms of assimilationism, since both
culture as a fixed and essential phenomenon" (Faist 1999: 31.)
I referred earlier to a "conservationist"
view of cultures and communities in which they are seen as threatened by other
cultures and communities, and must be saved. The Herderian roots of this idea
are well exposed by Parekh. Herder, he says, saw cultures as "self-contained
wholes that are corrupted by external influences" (2000: 76). For Herder,
a culture was an "'extended family' representing one language, one culture,
one people and 'one national character', and should at all cost avoid dilution
and loss of its internal coherence" (p. 71.) We may observe, especially
in recent years, the growth of what I would call "cultural anxiety"
(), a heightened concern about cultural
identity and cultural loss; the fear that someone will take our culture away
from us, that authenticity will be destroyed. .In an interesting passage (1993:
250-2) which begins with an assertion of the importance of culture ("an
interpretation of the world ... that allows us to get our bearings in it ),
Todorov argues that someone who "possesses a culture in depth has an
advantage over someone who does not know it at all" (p. 251). A rich
culture represents as "asset", and consequently its loss (deculturation)
is a "misfortune."
Anxiety about perceived threats to
"our culture", which I believe has, directly and indirectly, a great
deal to do with power and autonomy (threats to, loss of, striving for) is,
of course, an old theme within Europe from the 18th century onwards especially
among the minorities in the old imperial systems (Hapsburg, Ottoman, Tsarist
etc). We see this historically in the opposition by regional minority intellectuals
influenced by Romanticism (e.g. Mistral's Félibrige, with its dream of a resurrected
Latin culture and society) who rallied to Herder's call: "National cultures,
where are you?" We find it also among first and second generation migrants
worried about their children's loss of the religious and cultural values that
families brought with them. But cultural anxiety is something which manifests
itself among both minorities and majorities. Currently, the UK seems
to be riddled with anxiety: about the influence of Europe ("Brussels")
or the United States ("Washington"), the inflow of illegal immigrants,
and asylum seekers ("bogus" or otherwise), with their different
cultural traditions (arranged marriages, for example). Above all, at the moment,
is Islam, but let us not be fixated by "Islamophobia", which in
any event needs to be historicised. (Todorov, 1993: 301, has a nice quotation
from Chateaubriand who 200 years ago described Islam as "an enemy of
civilization, systematically favoring ignorance, despotism, and slavery".
) Nor are these anxieties confined to any particular segment of the right-left
political spectrum; anti-globalisation protests are a possible illustration
Although I have referred specifically
to Britain, cultural anxiety is certainly not confined there (see, for example,
Gullestad 2003: 48 on Norway.) Shore (1997a: 171), discussing the way in which
in Europe "perceived threats" to European culture, e.g. from American
and Japanese "cultural imperialism", are articulated, comments:
"While this is usually expressed
in the language of commerce ... it is often combined with xenophobia and chauvinism
about European cultural supremacy and fears of foreign contamination. It is
striking how metaphors of 'purity' and 'danger' characterize much of the language
used in debates about protecting Europe's heritage and identity ... Exactly
what this fragile but distinctive 'European' culture consists of, or why it
needs to be protected from harmful foreign influences, are value-laden notions
that reveal important aspects of the way 'culture' has become politicized
in European Union discourse. They also reflect a peculiarly static and conservative
conception of culture as something bounded, integral and integrating"
France, Silverman (1999: 47) writes of "fears of mixing, miscegenation
and hybridity", of the kind found in Gobineau, present in contemporary
arguments for the "defence of a European civilization which is threatened
today by global capitalism and the incessant mixing of cultures and peoples",
e.g. "McDonaldisation". And Shore again (1997a: 182-3) comments
on a speech of Jacque Delors that his "discourse about cultural defence
and inalienable rights revealed the sensitivity and apparent vulnerability
much of France's political elite feel about their national identity".
(Cf. also Taguieff 1990: 120 on calls to defend the "European tradition"
and identity against threats from the "inassimilable ... Arabo-Islamic
immigrant" .) As Wieviorka comments (1997b: 38): "Toujours est-il
que les Français éprouvent un vif sentiment de menace pesant sur leur culture
nationale, du dehors ... [et] du dedans avec la poussée de particularismes".
This anxiety is a global phenomenon,
often present among those threatened by an "expanding
modernity" Taylor (1998: 212.) As may be readily apparent,
it rests on an (essentialist), static, zero-sum, conception of culture and
society, contrasted with the more dynamic, constructivist view widely held
in contemporary academic anthropology, if not in the "real world".
Sahlins appropriately comments:
"Irony it is ... that anthropologists have been to so much trouble of late
denying the existence of cultural boundaries just when so many peoples are
being called upon to mark them. Conscious conspicuous boundary-making has
been increasing around the world in inverse relation to anthropological notions
of its significance" (1999: 414.)
In fact the disjunction between the popular, vernacular,
common sense conception of culture (again in the anthropological sense), and
the theorised, intellectualised accounts of academics has perhaps never been
so far apart - for it is the essentialist version of culture that appears
in public discourse, for example in Norway (Melhuus 1999: 74.) Make no mistake
that the gap between the "static/essentialist" and "dynamic/non-essentialist"
positions, and indeed between the former and the "socio-historical/political"
position, is indeed substantial. Similarly there is what seems at times to
be an unbridgeable chasm between "socio-historical/political" and
"dynamic/non-essentialist" visions, which reflects that between
modernists and postmodernists. All three accounts, in fact, represent very
different conceptions with very different social and political implications.
Consider, for example, the way in which ethno-nationalist projects rests on
static, ahistorical, essentialist assumptions. I say "ahistorical"
because although seeing identities as rooted in history, its view of history
is very "unhistorical", i.e. unchanging: the Serbs who fought the
battle of Kosovo in 1389 are the self-same Serbs defending it in 1989. In
the 19th century, for example, especially in middle European ethnology, there
was no real gap, and ethnological and ethno-national perspectives were one
and the same, the former feeding and indeed justifying the latter (and vice
versa?) Of course there were ambivalences, e.g. in the case of someone like
Renan who at times seemed to want it both ways, but public and scientific
discourse converged (cf. Silverman 1999: 42, Todorov 1993: 147). This is far
from the case nowadays.
A good illustration is the reception
accorded those sections of the Parekh Report which dealt with "British"
identity. There was a paradigmatic disjunction between what the Report said
and what it was represented as saying. Three quarters
dealt with bread and butter issues around employment, housing, education,
the police and so on, but the response focused on one small part which concerned
what may be called "the difference agenda". The press and politicians
were especially exercised by the (real or imagined) discussion of "Britishness",
and what the Report said about the need to "Rethink the national story".
The conservative Daily Telegraph, for example, and in this is it was
followed by the liberal Guardian, saw this as the key issue, and headlined:
"Thinkers who want to consign our island story to history. Straw [the
Labour Home Secretary at the time] wants to rewrite our history" (10th
"The report's suggestion that the word 'British' is
racist has finally frightened even those ministers who thought they could
never go wrong by appeasing such doctrines." (Daily Telegraph,
Editorial, 13th October, 2000)
What the Report actually said, however, was this:
"These are questions about Britain as an imagined
community, and about how a genuinely multicultural Britain urgently needs
to reimagine itself. Among other things, such re-imagining must take account
of the inescapable changes of the last 30 years - not only postwar migration
but also devolution, globalisation, the end of empire, Britain's long-term
decline as a world power, moral and cultural pluralism, and closer integration
with Europe." (Website, Report, p. 15.)
And concerning the "'British' is racist" argument,
what the Report argued was:
"Britishness, as much as Englishness, has systematic,
largely unspoken, racial connotations. Whiteness nowhere features as
an explicit condition of being British, but it is widely understood that Englishness,
and therefore by extension Britishness, is racially coded" (my emphases.)
This statement can be readily translated
into discussions of European identity. The concept of European identity is
not of and in itself racist, but may have "largely
unspoken, racial connotations"; and if not racist, then, as Shore points
out, certainly ethnocentric and elitist (cf. Allen and Cars 2001: 2196, Rex
1996: 6.1, Delanty 1996: 1.3.) Otherwise, why is it difficult to conceive
of Linford Christie as a European, or Andall's informant as an Italian, or
Ahmed as a Frenchman? Concerning the Norwegian writer Mah-Ruk Ali, Gullestad comments:
"That [Mah-Ruk Ali 's] Norwegian identity is not confirmed indicates
that metaphoric blood relations, and indirectly 'race', is the bottom line
of national identity" (2002: 52.) As Melhuus observes "a passport ...
is obviously not enough to make a Norwegian" (1999: 69, cf. the idea of a "cultural
passport" that "equips and facilitates belonging and identity",
Back et al 2001: 279, cf. their concept of "contingent inclusion",
5. Transnationals, Cosmopolitans, Hybrids ... and Hommes
If a first problem with contemporary
discussions of European identity stems from transformations in the theoretical
understanding of the concept of "culture", a second concerns the
way in which they need to be located within contemporary debates about globalisation
Let me begin by stating what I am
not discussing. I have argued elsewhere (Grillo 2002) that "globalisation",
or rather contemporary neoliberal globalisation, may be usefully understood
as the economic, political, and to an extent technological context
within which not "transnationalism" (in general), but the more specific
phenomenon of "transnational migration", or "transmigration"
must be located. Transmigrants are quite simply migrants who "live lives
across borders" (Glick-Schiller et al 1992, Basch et al
1994, Smith and Guarnizo eds 1998, Vertovec 1999, Smith 2001.) Whereas in
the past, it is argued, international migrants were expected to abandon old
worlds, and settle in countries of reception, they now maintain significant,
continuing ties with countries of origin. Whether a recent phenomenon, or,
if not recent, whether, and if so how, it differs from transmigration in other
epochs, are important questions not discussed here. I agree with Guarnizo
and Smith and others (e.g. Vertovec 1999) that transmigration is not new,
but "reached particular intensity at a global scale at the end of the
20th century" (1998: 4.) In the contemporary context of the
globalisation of production, distribution and exchange, and facilitated by
new communication technologies, widely accessible mass media, and mass international
transportation systems, ever greater numbers of migrants and refugees are
moving to an ever-widening range of countries of reception. Individuals, households,
families, whole communities have stakes in different but interconnected worlds,
often widely separated spatially, politically, economically, and socially,
which they try to maintain simultaneously. Transmigration is, moreover, not
only an economic or political or indeed domestic phenomenon, but in complex
ways a cultural one, and often closely bound up with religion. Part consequence
of, part attempt to come to terms with globalisation and policies of neoliberalism,
manifold socio-economic, political and cultural linkages across frontiers;
rise to populations that have multiple orientations: to receiving societies,
to sending societies, to transnational diasporas;
questions about identification, rights and entitlements;
bounded conceptualisations of nation, ethnicity, culture, religion and class
is one reason among others why many societies across the globe (perhaps all)
are becoming increasingly porous, the metaphor used by Charles Taylor
(1994.) It is this porosity, and the way it undermines bounded and essentialist
notions of culture and community, that is of greatest interest for our understanding
of European identity.
Related to that is the way in which
globalisation and transnationalism allow opportunities for, indeed give rise
to, subject positioning which in some sense may be thought of as transcending
traditional boundaries. Migration, diaspora, displacement are key terms frequently
found in current debates in Anglophone social and cultural studies (in different
ways Appadurai, Bhabha, Clifford, Gilroy, Hannerz, Rosaldo, Michael P. Smith,
and many others.) As Appadurai puts it, 'In the postnational world ... diaspora
runs with, and not against, the grain of identity, movement, and reproduction
(1996: 171.) There is a tendency to celebrate such displacement, with the
displaced hailed as archetypal hero(ines)/victims who, obliged to live within
and between cultures, must, metaphorically and usually practically, be multilingual
and multicultural Kahn 1995: 130.) Many writers in this field are in the main
optimists, seeing these experiences as potentially offering a way out of the
quagmire of essentialism in which nationalism and indeed multiculturalism
is stuck, though not all - Rouse for example, 1995 - are so sanguine.
These discussion have generated a variety of concepts, ideas and categories,
pertinent to our discussion: transnational, translocal, cosmopolitan, hybrid,
creole, postnational, and I would now include in this set l'homme des confins.
Let me look more closely at some of these, beginning with "hybrid"
Interestingly the word occurs in
the Leiris quotation cited earlier, but here I am concerned with the work
of the contemporary critical theorist, Homi Bhabha, whose ideas are most closely
associated with a concept which has strong echoes of the image of the l'homme
des confins. Bhabha at one point refers to what he calls the "people
of the pagus": "colonials, postcolonials, migrants, minorities -
wandering peoples who will not be contained within the Heim of the
national culture and its unisonant discourse" (1990: 315.) These he locates
in what at times seems to be an idealised, imagined, universal Paris wherein
of exiles and émigrés and refugees, gathering on the edge of 'foreign' cultures;
gathering at the frontiers; gatherings in the ghettos or cafés of city centres;
gathering in the half-life, half-light of foreign tongues" (p. 291.)
emphasis is on their marginality and/or cultural doubleness, an old theme
with once again strong echoes of the "homme des confins". More than
this, however, is Bhabha's concept of their "hybridity" (or "hybridization".)
His starting point is an "international culture, based not on
the exoticism of multiculturalism or the diversity of cultures, but on the
inscription and articulation of culture's hybridity" (1994: 38.)
Now "hybridity", like homme
des confins, is an awkward metaphor which perhaps carries too much historical
baggage (there must surely be reservations about its biological connotations.)
For Bhabha it refers to what happens culturally in the "third space",
the "interstitial passage between fixed identifications" (1994:
4.) The concept also draws on the Bakhtinian idea of "heteroglossia"
(Papastergiadis 1997: 267-8), and perhaps on Lévi-Straussian notions of bricolage
(Back 1996: 5.) Hybridity is thus to do with linguistic and cultural syncretism
and creolisation, and the term often signals a celebration of polyphony and
creativity, of "mongrelization." It appeals simultaneously to a
social, cultural, and physical postmodernist melting pot, as it were, from
which would emerge new social and cultural forms, and new persons (an imagined
Brazilianization, a "multi-racial" Brazil as it is sometimes thought
If l'homme des confins and "hybridity" occupy something of
the same terrain, then they also bear more than a passing family resemblance
to other concepts which I mentioned previously, for example "cosmopolitan".
That term has a venerable history (e.g. Mannheim 1936. NB Todorov, 1993: 214,
cites Michelet on cosmopolitans in The People, 1973: 94), but has resurfaced
in recent discussions of communities which transcend national boundaries:
scholars, political activists, workers with international organisations, expatriate
experts, and so on (Waldron 1995.) Hannerz (1992: 249) calls them carriers
of a "transnational culture". The Symposium Prospectus itself makes
the connection, when referring to l'homme des confins, but then distances
itself: l'homme des confins "is a kind of simultaneous intimacy
with several cultures (but more than a simple cosmopolitanism which is much
more superficial)" . I would welcome clarification of how and why these
differ. Does Mannheim's distinction between the conservative "cosmopolitic"
intellectual and the progressive internationalist (1952: 168) have a bearing
On the one hand, these and other concepts overlap, but they also refer to
different subject positioning vis ´ vis national and ethnic membership
and rootedness. In other words, there are different ways of being transnational.
Discussion of yet another term illustrates this. In transnational studies
"translocal" has been used in two distinct ones. For Smith it connotes
"local to local." Translocal relations are
within historically and geographically specific points of origin and destination
established by transnational migrants, investors, political activists, or
sociocultural entrepreneurs. They form a multifaceted connection that links
transnational actors, the localities to which they direct flows, and their
points of origin (p. 169, cf. Guarnizo and Smith, 1998: 13.)
communities are, then, "translocality-based structures of cultural production
and reproduction" (p. 170) with connections maintained through a wide
range of economic and technological links and devices. Thus for Smith "the
translocal" constitutes a site, or rather a linkage of sites, or better
perhaps, a relationship between (local) sites.
This use may be contrasted with that
of the British anthropologist, Pnina Werbner, who employs the term to designate
people: "translocals." Translocals are transnationals, but their
transnationalism differs from cosmopolitanism à la Hannerz
or Mannheim. For Werbner, cosmopolitans are "multilingual gourmet tasters
who travel among global cultures, savouring cultural differences as they flit
with consummate ease between social worlds" (1997: 11.) Someone, perhaps,
like the British singer, Petula Clark, better known in France than Britain,
who revealed the following in an interview in the Guardian:
1968 Clark has lived in Geneva. I ask her where is her true home. The seconds
pass. There is something melancholic in her silence. 'I have different homes.
I suppose London is my slippers- type home - I feel comfortable here. Paris
is more of a spiritual home. And New York is the buzz. I enjoy the competition
and toughness of New York. It's like the song - if you can make it there,
you can make it anywhere - and New York has always been great to me. And Geneva
is a wonderful place to put your feet up and listen to... the silence.'"
(Guardian, 20 February, 2002)
is reminded here of a comment by Parekh (2000: 150) on "culturally footloose"
individuals, "owing loyalty to no single culture, floating freely between
several of them, picking up beliefs, practices and lifestyles that engage
their sympathies, and creating an eclectic way of life of their own".
This way of life, which tends to be "shallow and fragile", is something
that postmodernist writers "romanticize" through "the mistaken
belief that all boundaries are reactionary and crippling and their transgressions
a symbol of creativity and freedom" (Parekh ibid.)
For Werbner, therefore, the translocal/cosmopolitan
distinction is, roughly speaking, a class or status based one. The former
are migrants who differ from cosmopolitans in that 'their loyalties are anchored
in translocal social networks ... rather than the global ecumene' (Werbner
1997: 12.) Transnational migration is, for Werbner and others, concerned with
ordinary, everyday activities of people operating simultaneously in, across,
between, more than one nation-state: if you will, the proletarian version
of the cosmopolitan. Although Werbner tends to conflate transnationals and
translocals in opposing them to cosmopolitans, thus losing what otherwise
might be a useful third term, the idea that these various categories of person
occupy different positions in global space (or the global ecumene) avoids
some of the difficulties in which Appadurai lands himself. In writing about
transnationalism and cosmopolitanism, what comes across all too often is simply
his wonderment at it all. See, for example, the passage (1996: 56-7) where
he discusses a family visit to India, and what he has to say on transnationalism
is at times astonishingly naïve: "In the postnational world ...
diaspora runs with, and not against, the grain of identity, movement, and
reproduction. Everyone has relatives working abroad" (1996: 171.)
How true! We are all transnationals
and cosmopolitans now, but perhaps some more than others, and certainly in
different ways. Take, for example, one of the notions with which he is most
closely associated, his coinage "ethnoscapes", which is one of a
linked series of concepts including "mediascapes", technoscapes",
"finanscapes", and "ideoscapes". "Ethnocscape"() is
landscape of persons who constitute the shifting world in which we live: tourists,
immigrants, refugees, exiles, guestworkers, and other moving groups and individuals
constitute an essential feature of the world and appear to affect the politics
of (and between) nations to a hitherto unprecedented degree"
landscapes", he continues, "are the building blocks of .... 'imagined
worlds', that is, the multiple worlds which are constituted by the historically
situated imaginations of persons and groups spread around the globe"
(1996: 33.) The difficulty is of course in that list of "persons who
constitute the shifting world". Like Gupta and Ferguson, who criticise
the "assumed isomorphism of space, place, and culture", and argue
that the "fiction" of discrete cultures makes no sense for those
who "live a life of border crossings - migrant workers, nomads, and members
of the transnational business and professional elite" (Gupta and Ferguson
1997: 34), Appadurai merges what are very different lived experiences of transnationalism.
This conflation is something that
concerns Friedman (1997), an American anthropologist who works in Paris. In
a diagram (1997: 88) representing what he calls "a hybrid worldview"
he draws a contrast (which represents partly what he believes that worldview
expresses, partly a realistic description of that world) between elite cosmopolitanism
and lower class ethno-nationalism. Hybridity, he argues, represents elite,
cosmopolitan idealism, and far removed from the "Balkanisation and tribalisation
experienced at the bottom of the system" (1997: 85.) He continues:
is a practice situated in a specific social context, a set of conditions that
determine the way in which subjects orient themselves in relation to a larger
reality which they define in defining themselves. The contrast between hybrid/creole
identifications and the essentialisation that is common to lower-class
and marginalised populations ... is a contrast in social position ... What
can be criticised ... is the attempt to define the identities of others in what
turns out to be a normative argument. It is only certain cultural elites
that are addicted to such empowerment - or rather self-empowerment. In
the meantime, the world heads towards increasing Balkanisation" (1997:
88, my emphases.)
Many of Friedman's points are well taken. It is vital to
emphasise social context (an issue I take up further below), and to locate
differences of perspective in terms of class position. However, in so far
as Friedman wishes to distinguish between elite cosmopolitanism and lower-class
"tribalism", he may well be wrong. Certainly, there would appear
to be ample evidence to support him (for example in Back et al 2001.)
On the other hand, the middle class tribalism of British expatriates in Spain
is well documented (e.g. Oliver 2000), and consider the following report (Guardian,
1st March, 2001), under the headline "Catalonia angry at influx of 'foreigners'".
wife of the regional premier of Catalonia has denounced Muslim incomers for
wanting to impose their culture on the region, and a prominent separatist
leader has complained of there being 'too many foreigners'. Marta Ferrusola,
who is married to the long-standing regional premier [said]: 'They want to
impose their own way. All they know how to say is: "Give me something
to eat" ... Catalonia's churches would soon be overshadowed by mosques,
Catalan leader, was reported as believing that "Immigrant workers should
be progressively expelled from certain regions [and] suggested that Spaniards
who opposed Catalan separatism were encouraging immigration, to dilute the
culture." These views were not shared by all, as the article demonstrates,
but my colleague, Jef Verschueren, and I can both testify to the vibrancy
of Catalan ethnic nationalism among precisely the intellectuals whom Friedman
believes besotted by hybridity. One could also point to anti-Muslim sentiments
in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Italy, though there and therein,
too, opinions vary considerably (see Grassilli 2002).
Certainly there is ample "lower
class" racism and xenophobia, not least among young people: that of British
football fans is too well known to require comment (see Back et al
2001.) On the other hand, there is a considerable literature which refers
to the hybridity, syncretism, creolisation at least in cultural terms found
among young people in many parts of the world, not least in Britain and France.
This is illustrated in Britain by the work of Hewitt (1986) and Back (1996)
focusing on the common culture to be found, at street level among young white
and black people who, says Back, "construct an alternative public sphere
in which truly mixed ethnicities develop" (Back 1996: 158), and this
to an extent transcends the barriers of race. This may be seen, to an extent,
in France, documented by a number of contributors to Aitsiselmi ed (2000)
who emphasise the syncretic language of young people of all backgrounds in
the banlieues. Thus, Cafari and Villette (2000: 101-2), on "Rap":
"La langue utilisée par les rappeurs est une langue
riche qui reflète un état actuel du français
parlé et compris par les jeunes. Il s'agit d'une langue versatile qui
amalgame dans un continuel jeu sur les signifiants, des acronymes., des aphorismes,
des sigles, des onomatopées. Dans une syntaxe ou prédomine la juxtaposition
se côteoient des mots des différentes provenances ou registres ... Le bricolage
... consiste à réunir ces discours hététogènes dans un ludique
et prolifique engendrement textuel"
Anyone who witnessed the celebration
of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution in Paris in 1989 must have
been struck by the way in which it became, for many young people from all
over Europe, an excuse for one prolonged, multinational, multicultural street
party (in which, I must confess, the thought of what was being celebrated
was perhaps furthest from their minds.) One might observe the same in many
sites: Charles Bridge in Prague, fusion cuisine in many places, urban graffiti
almost everywhere. Of course, I am conflating too many things, the fault for
which I criticise Appadurai, among others, and I recognise too that it might
be possible to be culturally hybrid and xenophobic. There may be, for example,
a common liking for Rap music, and thence a global community of Rappers, With
music and lyrics moulded to context and location: English rap in New York
and London, French rap in Paris, Fort de France and Montreal, Spanish rap
in Madrid and Mexico City, Senegalese rap, mixing French and Wolof in Dakar,
Japanese rap in Tokyo. But this does not preclude the desire to give other
Rappers a good kicking. (Back et al 200l: 269, remark that at the time
of the 1998 World Cup "a multi-cultural footballing reality was confronted
with the subterranean traces of racist football culture", in the graffiti
in the toilets of the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.)
What I wish to emphasise is that,
whether referring to transnationals, translocals, cosmopolitans, hybrids,
creoles, postnationals, or hommes des confins, we need to be aware
that there is more than one way of being a transmigrant (see Grillo et
al 2000), that there are different ways of being transnational, with different
personal and institutional subject positioning vis ´ vis nation, ethnicity, region,
and not least, class, that multicultural and intercultural practices (sometimes
perhaps polyphonic, syncretic, hybrid) may take many different forms. Moreover,
obliged to live within and between cultures, transnationals must, metaphorically
and usually practically, be multilingual and multicultural. The "new
European", says Picht (1993: 87),
as the merchants and courtiers of the Renaissance or the multicultural and
multilingual inhabitants of Central and Eastern Europe ... to know foreign languages
beyond the superficial and unreliable koiné ... A new humanism ... The necessary
intercultural training leads, not to a rejection of identity, but to the ability
to relativize and to promote a fruitful confrontation with others - the opposite
of self-protective aggression"
a challenge! It is not easy being transnational and there may be all manner
of reasons why it is hard to escape contextual and institutional constraints.
Nor is it easy to shrug off nationalism.
As I write the World Cup is in full swing and flags of Saint George are appearing
everywhere. Back et al refer to new forms of interaction constructed
"around the notion of distinct national cultures rather than any sense
of cultural hybridity ... a new context for the celebration and affirmation
of previously defined versions of national identity and 'ethnic absolutism'"
(2001: 247.) They are reflecting on football, but to illustrate the value
of this insight let us return to the ethnographies dealing with those working
for the EU, the Brussels civil servants an environment which Abélès (1996: 36) sees as a sort of
laboratory where one may observe the construction of a European identity.
Shore asks whether those working for the European Commission:
the kind of 'deterritorialisation'. 'cultural hybridity', 'diasporic identities'
and 'transnational connections' that contemporary social theorists often refer
to when discussing the transformations of social identities under conditions
of globalisation and postmodernity?" (2000: 153.)
they a "new class of deterritorialised, transnational political actors"
(Shore 2000: 34), who "embody the
'Europeanist' vision proclaimed in official texts?" (p. 3.) To
what extent do they represent a transnational, cosmopolitan culture? Are they
in any sense Hommes des Confins?
Shore notes that European civil servants
certainly see themselves as "'deterritorialised émigrés and rootless
cosmopolitans working for an avowedly post-national political entity"
(p. 168.) They consider themselves a "European vanguard" (p. 140),
and agents of European integration and consciousness (p. 141.) "Cosmopolitan"
appears frequently in their self descriptions (p. 153), though Shore (Fn.
8, Pp-168-9) is uncertain whether they are in fact "true" or "failed"
cosmopolitans in Hannerz's definition, 1996: 103.) Are these, then, the new
Europeans who will implement a "post-nationalist
government and style of administration" (p. 138), and thus "play
a similar role for Europe as Oxbridge and Milner's Kindergarten did for the
British Empire, or the Komsomol Pioneers did for the Soviet Union?" (p.
153.) In their daily lives they are a breed apart, "in but not of" Brussels
and Belgian society (p. 162), living literally and metaphorically in an administrative
enclave or ghetto, like colonial officials or expatriate aid experts in a
developing country. Moreover, like the Ottoman officials who believed that
the institutions they created on paper actually existed (Grillo 1998), for
the European civil servants, what happens in the bureaucracy "is
the reality of European integration" (p. 131.) Is this a milieu in which
a "supranational, multicultural and post-national political system"
is likely to flourish (p.172)?
To an extent,
the European civil service is indeed a kind of melting pot (p. 172.) Many
officials share a commitment to a European ideal, and speak the same, new
administrative language: they are from a similar educational background in
economics and law, have a similar penchant for legalistic jargon, and for
an esoteric vocabulary which sets them apart: "subsidiarity" is
an excellent example. (I was reminded of one British "old" Labour
leader's description of another as a "desiccated
calculating machine".) They are also
literally multilingual, and adept at language switching. Shore admires the
way they "flit between languages, depending on who has just joined
or left the group" (p.188.) Engaged in "mixing" and "blending",
the Commission see itself as a "mosaic of different nationalities whose
'unity' is contained within, and expressed through, its cultural 'diversity'"
(Shore 2000: 172.) However, the institutional practices of the Commission
are dominated by French, and to a lesser extent German models (p.179 ff.);
there are difficulties "reconciling 'southern and northern European'
styles of management" (p.198, p. 216), and, says Abélès (1996: 38) there is frequent
resort to age-old national stereotypes and simplified versions of reality
(see also Borneman and Fowler 1997: 495). Moreover, "in the context of
the Commission", notes Shore (2000: 192), "'cosmopolitan' means
'multinational' rather than multiracial". Few officials are of non-white
and McDonald's take on this is similar to Shore's, though they emphasise the
extent to which difference undermines the claims of "Unity in Diversity", made in the EU
slogan, an idea of Europe which Borneman and Fowler (1997: 495) call a "saccharin concept." The lack
of a common language, and thus the way in which a multilingual assembly is
obliged to operate though interpreters and simultaneous translation, make
dialogue extremely difficult (Abélès
1996: 37). Indeed, "le multilinguisme et la diversité des traditions
culturelles contribuent à désorienter les practiciens de l'Europe"
(Abélès 1996: 37.) Moreover, McDonald
observes that "the very use of some languages inevitably seems to portend
chaos" (1996: 58.) Thus, whereas Parliament and Commission are "in
their public face at least, structured to promote supranational identities"
(McDonald 1996: 52), diversity and difference (including the existence of
those with "different histories and historiographers", 1996: 53)
make this extremely difficult, and so when issues such as bull-fighting or
the colour of marmalade are debated in the Parliament, "cultures are
... talked and written into existence" (p. 56), in that very "encounter
of differences." Most important of all, individuals in the Commission
retain strong links with their co-nationals there and in their own countries.
At the very least, connections and clout ("piston"), operating
through national networks, remain fundamental, as in all bureaucratic and
political systems; at the worst, this becomes nepotism and deep-seated corruption,
as emerged in the investigations of 1999 which led to the wholesale resignation
of the European Commissioners (p. 200 ff., pp. 212-3.) Shore comments:
"If the nation-state is 'historically obsolete',
as many politicians and social scientists argue, most Europeans nevertheless
remain stubbornly wedded to their national identities, against which the notion
of a 'European identity' pales into insignificance" (p. 224.)
Nonetheless, there is a kind of emergent
syncretism. "The daily sociolanguage of the Commission can appear to
an outsider to be oddly hybrid or 'mixed', and to be full of errors",
says McDonald (1996: 58.) But it is pick and mix, and Abélès concludes that what we are witnessing is not the emergence
of a European identity, but rather "un vaste bricolage multiculturel",
and community practices "où l'on essaie à combiner ensemble
des savoir-faire, des langages, des conceptions d'administration et de politique
qui sont parfois difficilement conciliables" (1996: 42; he describes
Europspeak as "l'un des fleurons du bricolage multiculturel propre aux
institutions Européennes". )" As Shore points out (1993: 795), pace
those who want to "rejoice in melange, hybridity, impurity, intermingling
and creolization... the habit of securing identity by adopting closed versions
of culture will not be easy to break." Is this then the reality of the
l'homme des confins?
6. Towards a Multicultural Europe?
societies throw up problems that have no parallel in history. They need to
find ways of reconciling the legitimate demands of unity and diversity, achieving
political unity without cultural uniformity, being inclusive without being
assimilationist, cultivating among their citizens a common sense of belonging
while respecting their legitimate cultural differences, and cherishing plural
cultural identities without weakening the shared and precious identity of
shared citizenship. This is a formidable political task and no multicultural
society so far has succeeded in tackling it" (Parekh 2000: 343).
What are the consequences for discussions
of European identity? It is certainly true that transnationalism disrupts
ideas of neatly bounded cultures and communities. Kahn has argued that the
contemporary era is one in which "tropes such as 'cultural difference'
are marshalled against the very structures of the modern state and modern
economy" (1995: 25) . "Gone", he says, "are the forces
of modernism and cultural imperialism that have operated in the past to constitute
a homogeneous world after images constructed in eighteenth century European
bourgeois though" (p. 125.) This he attributes variously to the rise
of new technologies (p. 132), postmodernism (p. 133), postcolonialism (p.
133), and the "decline of western civilisation" (p. 135.) More broadly,
Bauman observes that
than being a battle-ground of complete and integrated 'cultures', of distinct
cultural totalities [his emphases] engaged in mutual warfare or exchange,
the present-day cultural stage is better seen as a matrix capable of generating
a set of endless and varied permutations ... Whatever road to integration
is chosen, it starts from diversity, leads through diversity and is unlikely
to reach beyond it, at least not in a foreseeable future" (1998:
16, my emphases).
challenges uniformity, relativism challenges truth, hierarchies have been
flattened, assimilation has broken down, the margins are at the centre"
(Silverman 1999: 5). As Stepan points out (1998: 225, "voluntary cultural
assimilation into the dominant host culture is in many parts of the world
now more complex than it was in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
... cultural congruence via minority choice and/or via state inducement is,
not surprisingly, a waning, rather than a growing, force in our globalising
societies". This may be a "liberation" (Kahn 1995: 125), but
it is a mixed blessing, and certainly an uncomfortable one for those who adhere
to assimilationist or strongly integrationist models of society, more firmly
held in some countries than others, such as France (Silverman 1999: 3, 157,
and see Stepan 1998: 222 on Gellner's Conditions of Liberty.)
Bauman (1998: 6) notes that the "formation
and protection of collective identity under the condition of growing cultural
pluralism and the close cohabitation of multiple traditions and styles of
life" is "an increasingly intricate problem common to all people
of the Information Age. "Things fall apart, the centre
cannot hold". Well, as I noted earlier, there are signs of the "centre"
re-asserting itself. The Guardian, 29 March 2002, for example, referring
to a recent book by the former West German Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, reported:
The elder statesman of the European left ... yesterday poured
petrol on the flames of Germany's impassioned immigration debate when he declared
that there were far too many foreigners in his country and that they could
not be assimilated because his compatriots were 'racist deep down'. They had let themselves get 'stuck with a multicultural society
because of their feelings of guilt over Hitler and the Nazis', he said. 'For idealistic motives,
born of the experience of the Third Reich, we have taken in far too many foreigners.
We have seven million foreigners today who are not integrated and the minimal
number who do want to integrate are not given help to do so. There are two
possibilities for a foreigner. Either he is a guest in another country or
he wants to immigrate. In the latter instance, he must slowly but surely -
and it is a difficult process - identify with his new fatherland and become
a citizen. If he is a guest, he has a quite different status. Then he has
neither the right to vote nor a claim to sickness benefit, health services
and unemployment pay. This distinction has been lost. Now we are stuck with
a very heterogeneous, de facto multicultural society and we can't cope with
it. We Germans are unable to assimilate all seven million. Nor do Germans
want that at all.'
remarks relate to immigration, integration and multiculturalism, but they
could equally well apply to the construction of Europe more generally.
Although globalisation and transnationalism
should in theory undermine cultural essentialism, in fact they seem to increase
the felt need for it. The paradox of transmigration is that it both stimulates
cultural anxiety and conservationism, and questions their static assumptions.
Gullestad, who notes that "Globalization and migration bring out and
even exacerbate the ethnic subtext in nation states (2001: 34), says, concerning
Norway, that "many people feel insecure about where their society is
heading" (2002: 48.) She attributes this to changes in the international
scene following the end of the Cold War, concerns about the EU, the "modernization"
of the welfare state, "the proliferation of neo-liberal ideas and practices
... downsizing and restructuring in the economy" (cf. Delanty 1996: passim.)
We are in an epoch of "uprooting" (to use Handlin's term) or "disembedding"
(Giddens), and hence of anxiety about culture and identity. And pace anthropologists
and others who espouse dynamic accounts it is possible that many people look
for a much more essentialist version of their culture, seeing in it something
which represents them in some deep sense; that defines their "real"
selves. As Brumann puts it: "like it or not, it appears that people -
and not only those with power - want bounded culture, and they often
want it in precisely the bounded, reified, essentialized, and timeless fashion
that most of us [i.e. anthropologists] now reject" (1999: S11.)
Here I am reminded of a comment by
Marc Augé (1999a: 91):
"Anthropology today is thus faced with two contradictory challenges.
The first has to do with the fact that all the important phenomena constitutive
of our contemporaneity - development and extension of the urban fabric, multiplication
of transportation and communication networks, uniformization of certain cultural
references, planetization of information and images - modify the nature of
the relationship that each of us has with his or her close human surroundings
... The recomposition of the category 'other' is a result of the fact that,
while such phenomena tend to reduce or efface that category, some of the reactions
they bring on - xenophobia, racism, obsession with identity - tend, on the
contrary, not only to rigidify it but make it unthinkable, unsymbolizable,
opening the way to potentially murderous madness"
also Rebekah Webb 2001.) Yet European politicians - from Britain to Germany,
from Italy to Scandinavia - seem to want to have it all ways. Yes, immigrants
are necessary for the long-term economic and social welfare of Europe and
Europeans, but we want them only if they are assimilable, that is, like us
(see the debate in Italy about admitting only Catholic immigrants), or willing
to come here on our own terms. That is, if admitted, because we judge them
assimilable, they must settle here, accept our core values (if we can define
them), and become like us. But all kinds of economic, social and political
factors (not least cultural and racist rejection by Europe's populations)
militate against this. Migrants are rebuffed (inter alia) because transnational,
but because rebuffed are more likely to seek a solution to their problems
in transnationalism. To that extent politicians are engaged in a futile exercise
(pissing in the wind to use a technical phrase), and need to face up to the
actual consequences of a Europe without migrants, transnational or other.
But let us return specifically to
the question of European identity, and remind ourselves of the quotation from
Daniel Bougnoux: "Being civilised today means assuming several identities
without any kind of nostalgia, without any fuss but (...) with detachment".
I will try and push forward the discussion principally on the level of collective
rather than individual identities, where in the first instance we are concerned
less with identity than with the form of society. Shore is right to describe
the European Commission's efforts at European construction as the last great
Enlightenment project. Whether or not such a project serves a concrete purpose,
it is one which, for all the reasons set out earlier, is likely to fail, or
if not fail then lead us along the false trail of a cultural essentialism,
which in all probability will be culturally fundamentalist, if not culturally
racist, or indeed in some versions, and in some hands, racist in the good
old-fashioned sense. A mild Eurosceptic might wonder whether any of this were
necessary (a strong Eurosceptic would know it wasn't!) Why do the economic
and political advantages of European integration and harmonisation require
a cultural dressing at all? Why not simply a confederation or commonwealth
of states, i.e. rather than a federal state?
This is not something that I am capable
of addressing (see Shore 2001 who surveys the issues.) Instead I will assume
that Europe is heading towards something more than a confederation. There
are two forms that the resulting polity might take (actually more than two,
but I will only consider these). The first would follow the highly integrated
assimilationist model, which in this respect mimics the classic nation-state
(viz. France). This is the model apparently favoured by the European
Commission (and the CoE?), with its concentric/overarching system of identification:
region>country> Europe, the latter all-encompassing and all-assuming.
Whether on not from an analytical point of view it makes sense to apply the
nation-state model to understand what is actually happening in the construction
of Europe (see Shore 1995: 227 and 2001: 34), the difficulties and dangers
of attempting to implement such a model are precisely what this paper has
been largely about, and I hope no more need be said. I will therefore move
on to a second model which I will call a "multicultural Europe"
(to anticipate a later point: a multicultural Europe with interculturally
minded/aware actors.) In so doing I am supposing that Europe as a whole might
be thought of in the same way we conventionally think of a single country
as potentially a multicultural society.
Now multiculturalism is far from
unproblematic, as some of the papers at the Strasbourg colloquia recognized
(see especially papers by two French contributors, Crépon and Thiesse, and
the American Karklins.) Like the highly integrated "national" model
it is prone to all manner of essentialisms. Moreover it is not a singular,
readily defined, phenomenon. Todorov has proposed that multiculturalism is
"neither a panacea nor a threat, but simply the reality of all existing
states" (1993: 252), and indeed at a descriptive level all contemporary
European societies are multicultural. This would also be true, perhaps to
a greater degree, of an integrated, federated European entity of whatever
kind one envisages. Multiculturalism, however, is more than a description
of contemporary realities. It points to a political project or projects which
address the form of those societies, the way in which their multiculturality
shapes the political and public arenas. I have argued elsewhere (Grillo 1998,
2000) that pluralism (or multiculturalism as I must call it here) has taken,
takes and might take various guises: the Ottoman millet system, for
example, was a kind of multiculturalism. Thus Touraine (1997: 301) is right
to differentiate multiculturalism from "communitarianism." "Radical"
multiculturalism, as he calls it, leads to the creation of culturally homogenous
communities and thus the destruction of the overarching multicultural order
(p. 310, see also Wieviorka 1997b: 27.) Thus he concludes:
"Le pluralisme culturel ne
peut être obtenu que par la rupture des communautés d finis par la correspondance
d'une société, d'un pouvoir et d'une culture. Il faut rejeter l'idée
d'une société multicommunitaire, alor qu'il faut d é fendre
la société multiculturelle et qu'il faut reconnaître les
aspects postifs d'une d'une société multiethnique" (Touraine 1997: 312.)
writing in the same volume argues that: "Personne ne peut raisonnablement
désirer un multiculturalisme débridé dont les excès
et les dangers, évidents, sont constamment soulignés par les tenants du modèle
d'int gration républicain" (1997a: 7, my emphases.) He himself is opposed
to those who abhor all cultural difference and see assimilation as the only
solution, but nonetheless does not jettison republican principles in favour
of "outright differentialism" ("différentialisme outrancier".)
He also points out that actual practice in France is more open than the Republican
model would suggest, and that multiculturalism in practice is not always what
its French critics imagine it to be (1997b: 41.)()
These issues have been much debated
elsewhere, no least in Britain, and it is interesting to see them discussed
in this way in France ().
In Britain the response has, at any rate in the past, been "multiculturalism,
but", if I may put it that way. "No" to communitarianism, "Yes",
to multiculturalism, but to a multiculturalism which is as much concerned
to address social as well as cultural agendas (see Grillo 1998, and especially
the work of John Rex.) Whether the events of 2000-2 have in fact shifted the
agenda back to more assimilationist ways of thinking is too early to say.
These issues are addressed specifically
and practically in the Parekh Report on multiethnic Britain (referred to earlier),
and more theoretically in Parekh's book on multiculturalism (2000.) In certain
respects, Parekh's thinking and that of Touraine are on the same ground. Multiculturalism,
says Touraine (1997: 295), makes no sense unless it is defined as a combination
of social unity and cultural diversity within a given territory. He goes on:
"ce n'est pas la séparation des culture ou l'isolement des sous-cultures
qui constitue une société multiculturelle; c'est leur communication, donc
la reconaissance du langage commun qui leur permet de se comprendre tout en
reconaissant leur différences" (1997: 300.) "Reconciling the legitimate
demands of unity and diversity", is how Parekh puts it (2000: 343); a
multicultural society needs to "foster a strong sense of unity",
but "cannot ignore the demands of diversity" (p. 196.) Parekh, Touraine
and others therefore emphasise the need for common ground and sense of unity.
A multicultural society , says Parekh, needs a "common sense of belonging".
However that "cannot be ethnic or based on shared cultural, ethnic
and other characteristics, for a multicultural society is too diverse for
that, but political in nature and based on a shared commitment to the political
community" (Parekh, p. 341, my emphases.) And translating this observation
into our discussions about European identity, it seems to me that that is
the nub of the matter.
So far as citizenship is concerned,
what kind of commitment does this entail? Stepan, examining data from Spain
and Catalonia, argues that: "political identities are not permanent but
can be highly changeable and socially constructed ... human beings are capable
of multiple and complementary identities ... people can simultaneously identify
with, and give loyalty to, different types of complementary political sovereignties."
(1998: 233.) This would be in accord with Parekh's position (2000: 232) that
"the prevailing view of national identity should allow for ... multiple
identities without subjecting those involved to charges of divided loyalties".
However, an inclusive definition of national identity and community is vital
(p. 233.) Moreover, it should "not only include all citizens, but also
accept them as equally valued and legitimate members of the community."
(Silverman notes that when "non-European immigrants ... are represented
as a threat to social cohesion ... no true citizenship can be achieved",
In fact, and this is where things
become more complicated, Parekh seems to want to go beyond a simple shared,
pragmatic, commitment to a political and economic association of mutual benefit.
If I understand him correctly, he envisages common ground as an emergent phenomenon,
not based on pre-existing shared characteristics, but on what he calls an
"interculturally created and multiculturally constituted common culture",
which "can emerge and enjoy legitimacy only if all the constituent cultures
are able to participate in its creation in a climate of equality" (p.
221). This, what he then calls a "dialogically constituted multicultural
society", involving intercultural interaction in both private and public
realms (p. 222), has the advantage, that it "both retains the truth of
liberalism and goes beyond it" (p. 340; see also Touraine 1997: 311:
"Le droit de la différence, isolé de toute réflexion sur la communication
interculturelle, conduit ´l un relativisme culturel
chargé de conflits insolubles ... Le pluralisme culturel repose non sur la différence
mais sur le dialogue de cultures"). Deriving a (minimalist) "universal
moral consensus ... through a universal or cross-cultural dialogue" (Parekh
2000: 128), it is "possible to arrive at a body of moral values which
deserve the respect of all human beings" (p. 133.)
There are several difficulties here.
First, there would seem to be a prima facie contradiction between his
advocacy of this dialogically constituted common culture (which is certainly
consistent with his praise of Bhabha and the concept of hybridity), and his
support for the cultures of minorities (e.g. multiculturalism "recognizes
that the good life can be led in several different ways including the
culturally self-contained, and finds space for the latter", p. 172.)
What happens to those cultures when there is a multicultural common culture?
Do they whither away, like the state under communism? Or does he envisage
strong and continuing cultural collectivities existing within a framework
of a multicultural common culture: "We agree to this, and agree to differ
on that"? Secondly, are these ideas fully consistent with the three "central
insights" which are in "creative interplay" (p. 338) and which
he brings to bear on the discussion? (Viz. "Human beings are culturally
embedded", p. 336; "Different cultures represent different systems
of meaning and visions of the good life", p. 336; most cultures are "internally
plural and represent a continuing conversation between their different traditions
and strands of thought", p. 337.) If human beings are "culturally
embedded", how is intercultural dialogue possible? How do they arise
from the cultural bed?
Of course, this is a venerable problem
in the sociology of knowledge, broached, inter alia, in Mannheim's
discussion of the cosmopolitan intellectual. In fact, and again rather like
the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, there are strong and weak versions of cultural
embeddedness. If I did not believe that (admittedly not without a certain
effort) people could become culturally "disembedded", I would not
be an anthropologist, and I would not accept, as I do, the dynamic, non-essentialist,
conception of culture. Of course one must be careful to avoid any implication
that the ability to operate in a culturally disembedded fashion, which entails
a large measure of cultural self-reflection, is a function of class position
or educational attainment (see my earlier discussion of this), though it might
be a function of one's transnationalism, or at any rate the transnational
practices in which one is engaged. Nor one must confuse cultural dis-embeddedness
simply with reflection on other cultures. Senegalese street sellers engage
in a great deal of reflection on cultures, especially those of the West, but
remain firmly committed to their own (Riccio 1999.) And this brings us back
to l'homme des confins.
What emerges from this is a notion
of multiculturalism, and of a multicultural Europe, which is constituted on
two levels (at least two): on a political level, in terms of a specific form
of multiculturalism embodied in a non-essentialist way in institutions and
practices operating locally, regionally, nationally and internationally (i.e.
within Europe), and at an individual level through an engagement in intercultural
dialogue (which may obviously take a collective form). And it is significant
that Nowicki, Parekh and Touraine all converge on these two terms: "intercultural"
and "dialogue" (which inter alia hybridity is all about also.)
Nonetheless we should not kid ourselves that intercultural dialogue is easy,
as members of the European Commission have found for themselves. The grip
of national interests and national cultural embeddedness remains extremely
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() I am not sure
when this consciousness of a culture, and of cultures, of
"our" as opposed to "their" culture, became politically
significant. It is certainly not just a modern phenomenon; the ancient Greeks
possessed it, though it takes a specific form in the era of nation-states.
So far as a sense of specifically European identity and culture is
concerned, Hale (1993a, 1993b) emphasises 16th century maps and
exploration (cf. Borneman and Fowler 1997: 490.) A former colleague, Richard
Burton, suggests Comenius (1592-1670) might make an interesting study from
this point of view.
() See, among many
others, Gellner 1987: 166; Hannerz 1987, 1992a, 1992b, 1996; Kahn 1995:
118; Modood 1998; Wright 1998a, 1998b; Brumann 1999; Baumann 1999; Kuper
1999; Silverman 1999: 64; Parekh 2000; Shore 2000. There is manifestly a
connection between the anti-essentialist position on culture discussed here
and that taken by many feminists and proponents of a gendered perspective
in the social sciences.
() Balibar and
Wallerstein (1991) see a close connection between nationalism and racism.
In this they lean heavily on Taguieff's idea of "differentialist racism",
discussed further below. However, unless national identity is specifically
articulated through a biological/genetic discourse, the significant thing
is the close connection between nationalism and cultural essentialism.
() Todorov wonders
why Renan did not "hit upon the word 'culture', which would have gotten
him out of his difficulty: entirely separate from the physical 'race', located
on neighboring territory (historical) and yet distinct from that of the
'nation' (the cultural is distinct from the political), 'culture' is the
common action of language, literature, religion, and mores" (1993:
() Surely Wright
(1998b: 5-8) is incorrect to argue that the "new", dynamic account
of culture has been appropriated by the discourse of cultural racism: "the
New Right appropriated the new ideas of 'culture' from cultural studies,
anti-racism and to a lesser extent social anthropology, and engaged in a
process of contesting and shifting the meanings of 'culture', 'nation',
'race', and 'difference'"
() There are two
senses in which the term "incommensurability" is used in anthropology.
The first refers to a form of cultural moral relativism which claims there
are no grounds to compare (judge) one culture against another. Kahn (1995:
81), for instance, says that anthropologists such as Evans-Pritchard "articulated
a new language of the relativity of culture, and of the world as a mosaic
of cultures irreducible one to another in a civilisational or racial metanarrative".
Parekh points out that this is another of Herder's legacies: "All cultures
for Herder were unique expressions of the human spirit, incommensurable
and, like flowers in the garden, beautifully complementing each other and
adding to the richness of the world" (Parekh 2000: 69, cf. Kuper 1994:
539). The second concerns inter-communicability, or its impossibility. Thus,
Gellner (1987: 167-8) castigates "partisans of the fashionable 'incommensurateness'
thesis" who "even conclude that translations from one vision to
another are either impossible, or occur only as the result of an accidental,
'fluky' partial overlap between two visions". Moral (cultural) relativism,
however, need not entail conceptual incommensurability, nor need it, as
Touraine suggests, "conduit nµcessairment ´ la sµgrµgation et au ghetto"
() I leave aside
three questions: the value or otherwise of what Spivak 1987 calls "strategic
essentialism", cf. Bonnet 1997, Werbner 1997); Kahn's observation (1995:
130) that "the charge of racial or cultural essentialism is all too
often used as a stick with which to beat movements and discourses seeking
to challenge the hegemony of western universalising practices"; and
Ong's concern to (re)establish the importance of racial discrimination and
racism as against the kind of "cultural fundamentalism" discussed
by Stolcke, whom she takes to task, noting that "in practice racial
hierarchies and polarities continue to inform Western notions of cultural
difference" (1996: 751.)