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Culture for Europe: struggles for contemporary meanings and social understandings of Europe through cultural institutions, festivals, and art projects

Dunin-Wąsowicz, Roch (2015) Culture for Europe: struggles for contemporary meanings and social understandings of Europe through cultural institutions, festivals, and art projects. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis investigates struggles for meanings and social understandings of Europe taking place through cultural institutions, festival sites, and art projects. I claim that culture is a social field where meanings of Europe are made. I argue that meanings of Europe that emerge in these cultural sites are not prior or given, but are a result of struggles between the actors involved. They These meanings are to different degrees particular and autonomous, depending on the proximity of a given cultural site to the political structures of the state and the EU. This research identifies that actors who construct Europe’s meaning do so according to common patterns. Europe’s meanings evoke notions of unity – it is a symbol of coming together. At the same time, what different actors mean by Europe is an articulation of their particular ideals circumstances and aspirations, rooted in their direct contexts. In other words, in culture, there is but one Europe. There is not one Europe. This is confirmed by how Europe is understood by the immediate audiences of these cultural sites. It is perceived as relevant only when translated through familiar contexts – specific, local or national – and only then it is embraced. The background of the analysis is the significance of aesthetic culture in modernity, its role in making the nation, and its social imagining. This thesis examines the ways in which culture today demonstrates a similar capacity in regard to Europe, albeit in a micro scale. The methods employed are discourse and audience reception analysis, as well as participant observation. The empirical investigation comprises of a microanalysis of sites of cultural production. The case studies selected for this analysis, drawing on studies of cultural nationalism, include an online cultural outlet, an independent film festival and a transnational cultural festival, as well as a series of state commissioned contemporary artworks, all of which claim to be European in one way or another.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Supervisor: White, Jonathan and Chalmers, Damian

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