Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Re-imagining Europe: local imaginaries, affect and the ever-thorny question of a continental identity

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Philippa Page



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Imagining Europe is a much harder task than it might initially seem, particularly, one might say, at the current historical conjuncture. This article aims to make a small contribution to what seems to be an increasingly perplexing and multi-faceted—if by no means new—debate concerning what it might mean to be—or feel, rather—European at the current moment: one that can be characterised as a moment of “crisis” in which internal clefts fissuring their way across the collective continental fabric have led to a retrenchment of surprisingly resurgent internal (read: national) frontiers and placed strain on what political philosopher, Jurgen Habermas, advocated as the possibilities of the “postnational constellation.” Taking as its case study a set of cultural expressions that engage with European identity in local imaginaries by way of exhibiting spectral figures (present absences that denote a range of social constructions of invisibility) in public space, this article seeks to elucidate the importance of the experiential and affective dimension to being—“being” (re)calibrated in this case as “feeling,” or “becoming”—European. Its aim is twofold: first, to consider how theoretical notions informing the affect and spectral “turns” in the humanities and social sciences interconnect to provide a fruitful approach to better understanding the way in which individuals imagine Europe from a subjective and local position; second, how the experiential and affective interactions that are produced through the act of seeing or reading the works of art in question encourage different ways of cultivating empathic ties for a new sense of community, thus contributing to a shift in paradigm where collective identity is concerned. The main artists cited are as follows: sculptors, Bruno Catalano, David Cerny and Lorenzo Quinn; the Empathy Museum performance collective; author, Antonio Muñoz Molina.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Page P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Perspectivas de la Comunicación

Year: 2018

Volume: 11

Issue: 1

Pages: 185-227

Online publication date: 15/08/2018

Acceptance date: 15/04/2018

Date deposited: 16/04/2018

ISSN (electronic): 0718-4867

Publisher: Universidad de La Frontera, Chile


Notes: Original English version by the author; Spanish version translated by Daniel Caro.