Introduction: Culture and narratives of transnational belonging Book Chapter

Thiel, M, Friedman, R. (2016). Introduction: Culture and narratives of transnational belonging . 1-16. 10.4324/9781315580913-9

cited authors

  • Thiel, M; Friedman, R


  • Transnational belonging in Europe today is most closely associated with the phrase “European identity”, suggesting the existence of a pan-European, all-encompassing and largely cultural, identity. Research about the existence of such an identity or multiple “identities”, based on historical, political and other commonalities exists in abundance, yet there is no consensus about its meaning overall: what European identity consists of; whom it includes or what the mechanisms are that have created it or that will shape its future. In the past few years, scholars have focused on the formation of collective transnational European identities on a socio-political, domestic level, investigating elements of the civic and cultural components of such identitive positions and posited the existence of many nationspecific Europeanized collective identities as a result of Europeanization (adaptation to EU policies), differentiation (to non-Europeans) and internal homogenization (of policies, institutions and norms) (Münch 2001). Despite these transformations and the ensuing scholarly investigations, cultural aspects, either as performative socio-historical representations or in the more statist mass political orientations of European societies, remain ambivalent factors in the creation of transnational European identities, as they are viewed on the one hand as essential for common identification yet on the other hand, produce tensions where cultures clash and/or national cultures feel themselves threatened by integration. In addition, liberal, postnational views at times ignore existing disparate national political cultures and fail to consider how they interact with some of the pervasive problems in the EU, such as the exclusion of immigrants and ethno-cultural minorities, the post-constitutional and present-day economic volatility in support for the Union and the future challenge of absorbing ever more candidate countries that are viewed as culturally different. The question of transnational belonging is not simply self-referential, but also has repercussions for the EU’s normative and geopolitical role in the world and thus for the future of places far beyond Europe itself.

publication date

  • July 22, 2016

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) 13

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 16