Ethnicity in today's Europe

The Forum on Contemporary Europe (FCE) is sponsoring long-term research on questions of European integration. This year FCE has conducted a series of seminars and international conferences to bring European authors and policy leaders together with forum researchers and Stanford centers to investigate the challenges of social integration. The series has combined the study of European Union (EU) policy toward its newest members, East-West and trans-Atlantic relations, crime and social conflict, and European models of universal citizenship. The directors of the forum plan multiple publications. Here is a preview of the forthcoming anthology on Ethnicity in Today’s Europe (Stanford University Press) edited and with an introduction by FCE Assistant Director Roland Hsu.

In periods of EU expansion and economic contraction, European leaders have been pressed to define the basis for membership and for accommodating the free movement of citizens. With the lowering of internal borders, member nations have asked whether a European passport is sufficient to integrate mobile populations into local communities. Addressing the European Parliament on the eve of the 1994 vote on the European Constitution, Vaclav Havel, then president of the Czech Republic, defined national membership in terms of a particular tradition of civic values:

The European Union is based on a large set of values, with roots in antiquity and in Christianity, which over 2,000 years evolved into what we recognize today as the foundations of modern democracy, the rule of law and civil society. This set of values has its own clear moral foundation and its obvious metaphysical roots, whether modern man admits it or not.

Havel’s claim for the continuing efficacy of Greco- Roman and Christian values can be read as a prescription for founding policy and even sociability. In today’s multicultural Europe his definition has been repeated, but also challenged, in debates over the most effective response to increasing heterogeneity and social conflict. For those who endorse or reject Havel’s binding moral roots, this new anthology reveals surprising positions.

The scale of change since Havel’s 1994 speech challenges confidence in European traditions for new Europe. During 1995–2005, EU immigration grew at more than double the annual rate of the previous decade. European immigrant employment statistics are difficult to aggregate but show a steep downward trend. EU Eurostat figures show the Muslim community is the fastest growing resident minority.

The violence in recent years also presses us to revise theory and practice. In the east: How will Balkan communities resume relations after massacres and ethnic cleansing? Does EU recognition of Kosovo validate claims for Flanders independence and Basque ethnic heritage? Can Roma immigrants look to Italian governments to enforce ethnic safeguards? In the west, the widespread riots in France in 2005 and 2007 by urban youths of mainly North and West African descent against military police have ruptured public security and social cohesion. France’s official response was aimed more to excise rather than reintegrate the protesters. In 2005, then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy announced “zero tolerance” for those he termed racaille (scum). The descriptor was effectively deployed to shape public opinion and the ministry declared a national state of emergency, invoking a law dating from the 1954–1962 War of Algerian independence, applied previously only against ethnic uprisings in French Algeria and New Caledonia, for searches, detainments, house arrests, and press censorship without court warrant.

Based on the ministry’s own records, the violence did not catch the government by complete surprise. Researchers, including Alec Hargreaves in Ethnicity in Today’s Europe, have revealed a study conducted in 2004 by the French interior ministry that documented more than 2 million citizens living in districts of social alienation, racial discrimination, and poor community policing. The ministry’s document admits that youth unemployment in what journalists referred to as quartiers chauds (neighborhoods boiling over) surpassed 50 percent. Constitutionally barred from conducting ethnic surveys, the report nevertheless acknowledges what most already understood: that the majority of the unemployed and disenfranchised youth were French-born whose parents or grandparents were of African descent.

Post-war era immigration, from the 1950s European reconstruction through the 1960s and 1970s decolonization, is best defined as post-colonial migration. European governments created neighborhoods for immigrants who moved from periphery to metropole. The new residents’ education, language, and collective memory were shaped by colonial administrations, and that background was roughly familiar to the host communities. Since 1990, however, based on projections in this anthology, we have entered a period, for lack of a better name, of post-post-colonial diaspora.

The peoples immigrating to Europe are increasingly coming from lands without characteristic European colonial heritage. While few countries of origin have no instance of European intervention, the new arrivals are adding rapidly growing numbers of émigrés of global diasporas from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, and Israel, as well as the Indonesian archipelago and sub- Saharan and East Africa. This most recent demographic trend takes Europe, and the larger trans-Atlantic west, into an era not well served by existing models.

In this anthology, nine prominent authors substantiate this shift. The essays create an unusual and productive dialogue between social scientist modeling and humanist cultural studies to confront assumptions about immigrant origin, European identity, and policies of tolerance. Bassam Tibi (International Relations, University of Gottingen/Cornell) criticizes European multiculturalism, which, he argues, inadvertently enables European Islamist fundamentalism. Tibi’s essay challenges his fellow Muslim immigrants to embrace traditional European civic values (which he dates neither from antiquity nor the Christian era, but rather from the French Revolution) as the foundation not for multiculturalism, but for a cultural pluralism that fosters social integration. The result, in his terms, would replace Islamist fundamentalism with a Euro-Islam capable of Euro-integration. Kadar Konuk (German Studies, University of Michigan) sets Tibi’s insight on European- Muslim ethnicity into the history of European-Turkish relations. Readers questioning Turkey’s EU candidacy will find that the two essays shift the common critique of Turkish policy toward a more pressing question of Europe’s social capacity to integrate prospective Turkish-EU citizens.

Contributions by Alec Hargreaves (French Studies, Florida State), Rogers Brubaker (Sociology, UCLA), and Saskia Sassen (Sociology, Columbia) — all leading authors on European political culture and social theory — rethink Western European responses to minority integration. Articles by Carole Fink (History, Ohio State), Leslie Adelson (German Studies, Cornell), and Salvador Cardús Ros (Sociology, Autonomous University of Barcelona) reveal cultural expressions that are often overlooked in studies of European minority identity. The final article by Pavle Levi (Art and Art History, Stanford University) focuses on the case of post-ethnic war Balkans, to test the ability of mass media and film to influence the creation of cross-border inclusive cultures.

Ethnicity in Today’s Europe was developed from the fall 2007 conference on the topic sponsored by FCE and the Stanford Humanities Center.

To sign up for upcoming FCE programming, and for an alert from the Stanford University Press when this anthology and works on this topic are released, plese visit the Stanford University Press website.