European stories – How national intellectuals debate Europe

WP 5 – Civil Society and the Public Sphere  

WP 5 events

Oxford, 30 April-1 May 2009

Venue: European Studies Centre, 70, Woodstock Road, St Anthony’s College, University of Oxford

Convenors: Justine Lacroix and Kalypso Nicolaïdis

Supported by:

  • The Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford
  • Action de Recherche Concertée ‘Resisting Europe: Social and Political Responses to the Process of European Integration’ (2007-2011)
  • Fondation Philippe Wiener Anspach (Brussels)
  • Maison Française d’Oxford


Romanians see Europe as an ethical hazard; the French as La Grande France; the Germans as (still) their best bet at national atonement; the Spaniards as the key to their democracy and the Italians as the one to their unity; and so on. These may be but simplistic clichés as each national debate in Europe about Europe pits schools of thought against schools of thoughts, ideology against ideology, national trope against national trope. Nevertheless, they belong to distinctly different national debates about the 21st century project that is the European Union (EU), its relationship to the respective nations’ history and the promises or threats it may hold for the national project today.

This workshop is about the constellation of different ‘European stories’ woven by these national debates and ultimately what their differences and points of intersection might tell us about Europe itself. We use ‘intellectual’ in the ‘cultural sense’ as defined by Stephen Collini, that is those ‘regarded as possessing some kind of ‘cultural authority’ that is who deploy an acknowledged intellectual position or achievement in addressing a broader, non specialist public’  (Collini 2006). Here ‘speaking out’ is crucial and the public concerned must be open, impersonal and non-specialist. So naturally the workshop is also concerned with the reception of the intellectuals’ discourse and therefore the source of his/her authority to be found in the ways in which citizens pay attention to, are influenced by, or even in some cases defer to ‘European stories’ as told by intellectuals.

Consequently, we ask how these intellectuals have reacted to European integration and how their view on their country’s national identity has affected their view on its position inside (or outside) the EU and vice versa. While the very definition of intellectuals and their place in society varies greatly across European countries, national debates among these intellectuals all shape as well as reflect in more or less distorted way the dominant opinions of their fellow citizens. Moreover, they influence the way in which their country is perceived by other Europeans and therefore in the end, the evolving relationship between European peoples.


Read more on the research objectives of WP 5 and on the overall research objectives of RECON.

For further information, please contact Justine Lacroix. Please register at: european.studies(at)



Thursday 30 April 2009



Registration, Hilda Besse Building (ground floor)

Lunch, Hilda Besse Building


Panel 1 

European stories: an introduction
Justine Lacroix, Université libre de Bruxelles and Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Oxford University

Lost in universalization? On the difficulty of localizing the European intellectual
Francis Cheneval, Oxford University

Dialectics of national intellectual discourses on Europe: construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction
Ulrike Liebert, University of Bremen

Discussant: Michaël Freeden, Oxford University




Panel 2

Between old fears and new challenges: Polish debate about Europe
Zdzislaw Mach and Magdalena Gora, Jagiellonian University Krakow

The worlds of two Václavs: European intellectuals vs. nationa(list) politicians
Muriel Blaive, Ludwig Boltzmann Institut, Wien and Nicolas Maslowski, Charles University

Romania: post-secular nationalism
Daniel Barbu, University of Bucharest

The peculiarities of the German EU debate 
Jan-Werner Muller, Princeton University

From making Europe to explaining Europe: the diversification and fragmentation of debates on Europe in Belgium and Luxembourg
Laurent Scheek, Université libre de Bruxelles

Discussant: Ivan Krastev, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia




Friday 1 May 2009


Panel 3

Mid-Atlantic musings: the ‘question of Europe’ in British intellectual debate
Georgios Varouxakis, Queen Mary, University of London

The end of the affair? Consequences of the decline of Irish intellectual engagement with Europe
Francis Cheneval, Oxford University

The received Turkish construct of Europe: a friend or foe?
Ahmet O. Evin, Sabanci University

Public intellectuals and Europe: the view from Norway
Cathrine Holst, ARENA, University of Oslo

Discussant: Timothy Garton Ash, Oxford University




Panel 4

‘Bordeline Europe’: French intellectuals and European integration
Justine Lacroix, Université libre de Bruxelles

Italy and the idea of Europe: contribution to an intellectual history
Mario Telò, Université libre de Bruxelles

A certain idea of Europe? The evolution of Spanish intellectual debates on the European Union
Carlos Closa, Spanish High Council for Scientific Research

The European paradox of Greek intellectuals
Xenophon Yataganas, University of Athens

Discussant: Anand Menon, University of Birmimgham




Panel 5

Europe’s political identity: public sphere and public opinion
Juan Diez Medrano, Universidad de Barcelona

In praise of narrative diversity
Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Oxford University and Janie Pélabay, Université libre de Bruxelles

Discussant: Jean Leca, Sciences-Po Paris



Organised in collaboration with:

European Studies Centre, Oxford University

Centre de théorie politique (CTP), Université libre de Bruxelles


Institute for European Studies (IEE), Université libre de Bruxelles


WP 5 Events