New series of events on the borders of Europe in November and December

BAVO


2009

The events include lectures by Chantal Mouffe, Paul Scheffer and Markus Miessen as well as a film seminar with Ann-Sofi Siden and Maria Iorio & Raphael Cuomo.

The events include lectures by Chantal Mouffe, Paul Scheffer and Markus Miessen as well as a film seminar with Ann-Sofi Siden and Raphael Cuomo and Maria Iorio.

The lecture series, entitled ‘The Unresolvable Borders of Europe’, invites people from different disciplines to analyze, theorize, dissect, deconstruct, map, represent, embody, visualize, imagine or project the unresolved conflicts at the inner or outer borders of Europe. It is commited to the formation of a truly transnational European people, public sphere, citizenship and commons. The series takes seriously French philosopher Etienne Balibar’s hypothesis that the border areas of Europe are not marginal to the constitution of a European public sphere but are, on the contrary, at its centre. For more information with regards to the content, see below. The lectures are scheduled to take place in Spring and Autumn of this year.

The line-up for the events in Autumn is:

– Film screening of the art documentaries ‘Warte Mal’ and ‘Sudeuropa’ with lectures by the makers (Ann-Sofi Siden and Maria Iorio & Raphael Cuomo respectively): Thursday 12 November

– Chantal Mouffe: Wednesday 18 November

– Paul Scheffer: Wednesday 25 November

– Markus Miessen: Wednesday 2 December

All lectures will take place at the Dutch Architecture Institute in Maastricht and will start at 7 p.m.

More information about the lecturers, the theme of each of the lectures as well as practical information is available on the lectures’ website: http://bordersofeurope.janvaneyck.nl

The lectures are organised by the Euregional Forum, the Jan van Eyck Academie and the Dutch Architecture Institute Maastricht.

Content: The Unresolvable Borders of Europe

In his book We, the People of Europe? Balibar claims that the borders of Europe have a central role to play in the constitution of a European people. Because borders are places where confrontations occur due to all kinds of differences – differences in world view, religion, customs, wealth and so on – they are the places par excellence of unresolved political problems. For Balibar, it is by collectively resolving and working through these problems that a new people can be formed that transcends these differences as well as the borders they sustain. Hence, the importance of Europe’s borders for the constitution of a genuinely transnational, European Commons with an equally transnational citizenship.

Within the on-going discussions concerning the fundamental politics, identity or economic policy of Europe, Balibar thus takes up an uneasy position. Instead of constructing Europe from within, that is to say, on the basis of the common traits and similarities between the different nations, he asks us to construct it from ‘the outside’: on the basis of the unresolved conflicts and confrontations that exist at Europe’s borders, the point of contact with its political, socio-economic, cultural or ethnic ‘Other’.

In the first place, Europe’s borders can be interpreted in the literal, geographic sense. One can think here of the outer borders of Europe and all the controversies surrounding so-called Fortress Europe with regards to security, migration, disparity in wealth and opportunities, sex tourism and so on. Balibar’s thesis invites us to think of these issues not as peripheral or external to the project of the EU – for instance, as the inevitable result of geopolitical differences – but, on the contrary, as essential for that project. Consequently, the resolution of these issues should not be left to an ad hoc, emergency management, but should instead form the centre of the political debates on the fundamental identity and politics of Europe.

Also the inner borders of Europe constitute places par excellence of unresolved tensions and stubborn differences and are thereby important frontlines in the construction of a European Commons. Albeit perhaps somewhat less intense and spectacular, important differences still exist between the different European member-states, from differences with regards to political or corporate culture, social rights, health care and public transport to prostitution and drug policy. These differences cause many problems and conflicts, especially in Europe’s internal border regions, also called ‘Euregions’. Again, the point here is not to see these problems as the last remnants of the ‘old Europe’ and the petty differences between the different nation-states that will fade away slowly over time. They rather constitute the basis of, and a challenge to, rethinking some of Europe’s basic choices with regards to its politics, economic, foreign or asylum policy, etc.

But as borders have become “dispersed a little everywhere, wherever the movement of information, people, and things is happening and is controlled”, we should also see the borders of Europe in a more expanded sense. Europe’s borders can pop up wherever and whenever economic, political or cultural differences manifest themselves and cause confrontations between different individuals or groups. We immediately think here of the often deplorable work and living conditions in the big Western European cities – but, we should not forget to include the countryside! – for guest workers from the new Eastern European member states, as a consequence of grave disparities in social rights and wages. The borders these injustices erect between the people of Europe should thus not be seen as unfortunate side-effects of the unification of Europe. They, on the contrary, constitute places of confrontation that fundamentally question that unification and are thus places where the struggle for determining the basic, common values of Europe can first begin.

Tags: English

Categories: Urban planning

Type: News

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