“The collapse of the Soviet Union: 20 years on”


The persistence of mental mappings: The EU and the politics of reinventing the Central and Eastern European Other



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9. The persistence of mental mappings: The EU and the politics of reinventing the Central and Eastern European Other


This paper focuses on analyzing the narratives of the European identity making in their exclusivist features. A particular analytical emphasis is placed on the processes of othering that are involved in framing a European identitarian project. Inscribed in the established tradition of constructivism and discourse analysis, this paper aims to locate and unfold the alterity making processes within current European identity narratives. While the existing literature on the topic is focused on the dynamics of a European process of “othering” towards the EU borders, I will follows the traces of “othering” inside the European Union by arguing that, within the EU identity making, a core-periphery nexus is involved in integration processes while the East-West sloperetains specific determinant features after the Eastern Enlargement. The paper confronts the roots, the shapes and the uses of the narratives of laggardness or “less Europeaness” of Central and Eastern European EU members. These narratives are considered illustrative samples of the centripetal dynamics of European identity making. The paper therefore seeks to evaluate the impact of these patterns of alterity making on the forces of contestation and types of resistance toward the European identitarian constructs that lead to decreasing popular support for the European Union in Central and Eastern European countries. The argument is that the European identity making creates and reproduces through daily practices an internal alterity while the enlargement made the process of othering constitutive to most of the European identitarian endeavours by preserving and reshaping the mental mappings formed during the Cold War. The discourses and the construction of interests and identities within the EU’s constitutive process of othering significantly impacts the potential formation of a cohesive European demos. Thus, in a reshaped paraphrase, a new spectre is haunting the European Union: the spectre of the internal Central and Eastern European “other”.

Emanuel Crudu

ARENA Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo



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