Research / Projects

Narratives of Europe: Perspectives from its North-East Periphery

Narratives of Europe website

This project investigates how Europe is identified in narratives from East Europe. It focuses on how "Europeanness" is fabricated and narrated in one of Europe's dynamic peripheries. Focusing on the region's philosophical, political, literary, musical, art and media discourses, a systematic and comparative analysis is made of how European identity is articulated differently depending on national context and narrative genre. The project thus makes comparisons in three dimensions: how does the narration of European identity vary (1) between centre and periphery; (2) between national subregions of East Europe; and (3) between narrative genres of communication.

In East Europe, neighbouring countries with divergent experiences have taken distinct paths vis-à-vis the European project of unification, offering excellent clues to the diverse facets of ongoing refigurations of what Europe means. In this region, concepts of Europe are intensely cultivated and debated, challenging the notion of East Europe as the "Other" and suggesting that they in many ways tend to be more active Europeans than many in Central or Western Europe. Discursive tensions will be scrutinised between "Fortress Europe" and Europe as communicative node, unity and diversity, stability and mobility, universalism and particularism. There are variously emphasised traces of Christian heritage, colonial history, Enlightenment ideas of progress, experiences of war, or reference to old and new transnational connections.

Six subprojects deal with European narratives in (A) phenomenological philosophy (Carl Cederberg); (B) political movements (Anne Kaun); (C) literature (Stefan Jonsson), (D) visual arts (Katarina MacLeod), (E) popular music (Johan Fornäs); and (F) news media (Roman Horbyk). The project organizes annual workshops and will result in individual articles and a joint anthology report. It links core disciplines within the Critical and Cultural Theory research area of Södertörn University (Media and Communication Studies, Studies of Practical Knowledge, Aesthetics and Art History), and makes them imminently relevant to the Baltic area studies at Södertörn University.

Publications

In: Media and austerity. Abingdon : Routledge, 2018. 226-236.

The economic crisis of 2007/2008 constitutes a moment of rupture not only for the financial markets, but also in terms of political engagement. In reaction to the crisis thousands took to the streets and squares in order to express their critique of the current political and economic system. The critical juncture also highlighted the role of media technologies for political organization and participation, which is reflected in comments on protests related to the financial crisis often over-emphasizing digital social media. This chapter provides an alternative way of engaging with crisis-related protest that moves beyond notions such as networked protests and connected action. Instead the chapter suggests reinvigorating more traditional methods of narrative analysis and critical hermeneutics in order to make sense of representations of protest mobilizations in reaction to the financial crisis. The financial crisis and protest that emerged in response serve as backdrop in order to further the theoretical argument about what role narrative mediation plays in the construction of social reality.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject

Maria Francesca Murru

Anne Kaun

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2018

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Media and Communication Studies

Research area for doctoral studies

-

In: Europe Faces Europe. Bristol : Intellect Ltd., 2017. 35-61.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Carl Cederberg

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2017

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Studies in Practical Knowledge

Research area for doctoral studies

-

In: Europe Faces Europe. Bristol : Intellect Ltd., 2017. 133-151.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Anne Kaun

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2017

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Media and Communication Studies

Research area for doctoral studies

-

In: Europe Faces Europe. Bristol : Intellect Ltd., 2017. 153-177.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Katarina Macleod

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2017

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Art History

Research area for doctoral studies

-

In: Europe Faces Europe. Bristol : Intellect Ltd., 2017. 93-132.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Roman Horbyk

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2017

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Media and Communication Studies

Research area for doctoral studies

-

In: Europe Faces Europe. Bristol : Intellect Ltd., 2017. 1-34.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Johan Fornäs

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2017

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Media and Communication Studies

Research area for doctoral studies

-

In: Europe Faces Europe. Bristol : Intellect Ltd., 2017. 179-235.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Johan Fornäs

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2017

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Media and Communication Studies

Research area for doctoral studies

-

Bristol : Intellect Ltd., 2017.

Europe Faces Europe examines Eastern European perspectives on European identity. The contributors to this volume map narratives of Europe rooted in Eastern Europe, examining their relationship to philosophy, journalism, social movements, literary texts, visual art, and popular music. Moving the debate and research on European identity beyond the geographical power center, the essays explore how Europeanness is conceived of in the dynamic region of Eastern Europe. Offering a fresh take on European identity, Europe Faces Europe comes at an important time, when Eastern Europe and European identity are in an important and vibrant phase of transition.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Johan Fornäs

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2017

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Media and Communication Studies

Research area for doctoral studies

-

Interactions 2016, 7 (1): 23-39.

The Occupy movement, which started with a group of activists in New York, soon grew into a global movement with protesters gathering and occupying public spaces worldwide. This article provides a critical discourse analysis and examines the representation of the global as well as local expressions of the Occupy movement in Latvian and Swedish major newspapers. It shifts the lens from the financial centres to the European periphery and asks how the movement is recontextualized in Latvia and Sweden. In the analysis four main discursive strategies are identified and discussed comparatively for the two countries; nomination, predication, perspectivation and mitigation. Although the discursive strategies in both contexts are similar, the recontextualization in Latvia and Sweden reflects the distinct historical and cultural circumstance in which the mediation of the Occupy movement emerged.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Anne Kaun

Iveta Jurkane-Hobein


Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

No
2016

School/Centre

CBEESSchool of Culture and EducationSchool of Social Sciences
Media and Communication StudiesSociology

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural Theory

In: Communication for Empowerment. : Universidade Lusófona.

The European Union is looking for new narratives of Europe. But which was the old one and was there really just one? Do narratives of Europe in the so-called ‘new’ east Europe offer alternatives for redefining European identity? In order to approach these issues, this paper looks at how Europe is narrated in east European popular music, focusing the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC).A wide range of symbols struggle for identifying or signifying Europe (Fornäs 2012). The post-1989 EU enlargement has intensified such redefinition efforts. Popular music offers a fascinating field for such narrative identifications, with the ESC as an influential arena, linking cultural, social and political discourses. Music matters (Hesmondhalgh 2013) to people on many influential levels, combining emotive pleasure with social interaction in ways that offer rich resources for identifying practices. Being perhaps the most successful pan-European venture, the ESC is therefore an excellent source for investigating narratives of Europe.Written within an interdisciplinary project on east European ‘Narratives of Europe’, this paper analyses songs from ESC finals since 1989. Using a methodological model for analysing narratives, inspired by Genette (1972/1980), Ricoeur (1981) and Ryan (2004), it looks for who acts in a narrative (setup), what happens in which order (process), how or in what format the story is told (mode) and what identity it constructs for Europe (meaning).More than 70 songs were chosen, 40 of them from east Europe. Preliminary results in­dicate an overwhelming dominance of one master narrative of redemptive resur­rection, with a set of sub-variants. In other contexts than the ESC, popular songs may depict Europe as an eternally happy place or as falling from greatness into misery, but the ESC format strongly favours a narrative where Europe had a glorious past but then has been deeply torn by internal strife, wars and suffering, from which it now finally will recover by uniting in mutual co-operation and love. Some variants say little or nothing about the initial golden age, some less triumphantly place the resurrection as a dream for the future, and some east European song narratives add freedom from oppression to peace after internal war as core values, but the master narrative is never really abandoned.This resurrection narrative resonates with the founding myth expressed in EU’s key symbols. The inclusion of former Soviet Bloc countries into the European integration process has given new impetus to those founding narratives, and the ESC’s east European narratives indicate important continuities between the old and the new.While offering a methodological example of narrative analysis of media texts in the seldom-studied format of televised popular music, the paper also contributes to the understanding of how east European voices construct Europe’s history and future in the processes of transformation that challenge inherited ideas of what Europe means.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Johan Fornäs

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

No
2014

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Media and Communication Studies

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural Theory

In: Jewish Thought, Utopia and Revolution. Amsterdam / New York : Rodopi, 2014. 79-93.

This article presents the view on revolution in the writings of French-Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Levinas is often thought of as a mainly ethical thinker, cautious regarding the political. Here, the political implication of his thought is emphasised. Levinas, the article argues, is a thinker of the revolution. His thought is also criticized in the article, however, for drawing too severe boundaries between the home and the public sphere.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Carl Cederberg

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

No
2014

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Studies in Practical Knowledge

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural Theory

Svenska Dagbladet 2013, 14 maj : 25-25.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Johan Fornäs

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2013

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Media and Communication Studies

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural Theory

This paper focuses on the redefinition of European symbols and in particular the euro currency under the current condition of crisis, in which the identity of Europe is challenged and attributed new connotations. The current financial crisis has material effects for institutions and citizens, but also an important cultural aspect. Money is a means of payment but also a symbolic artefact or ‘micro medium’. Every European symbol demands a level of trust among its users, while also aiming to secure basic trust in the legitimacy of European values. When the euro runs into crisis, this therefore has crucial symbolic repercussions. If for instance Greece is forced to leave the Eurozone, this not only creates monetary difficulties but also questions the signifying force of the € symbol, whose name and design intend to express the foundation of European civilisation in the classical culture of Athens.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Johan Fornäs

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

No
2013

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Media and Communication Studies

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural Theory

Religionsvetenskaplig internettidskrift 2012, 14 : 1-5.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Carl Cederberg

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

No
2012

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Studies in Practical Knowledge

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural Theory

In: Vem i hela världen kan man lita på?. Lund : Studentlitteratur, 2012. 25-45.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Johan Fornäs

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

No
2012

School/Centre

School of Culture and Education
Media and Communication Studies

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural Theory

Status

Started

Project Manager

Johan Fornäs
Professor
School of Culture and Education

People linked to the project

Anne Kaun
Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor
School of Culture and Education

Carl Cederberg
Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor
School of Culture and Education

Katarina Macleod
Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor
School of Culture and Education

Roman Horbyk
Lecturer
School of Culture and Education


Stefan Jonsson
Professor, Linköpings universitet

More information

Project start: 2012
Project end: 2016

Financier: Östersjöstiftelsen

Research linked to the Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe: Yes

Information på svenska

School/centre to which the project is linked

Research area for doctoral studies to which the project is linked