Cultural Citizenship and the Creation of European Identity


Juan M Delgado-Moreira Madrid Spain

Ministry of Education

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the “Nation Creation and Dissolution” session at the American Ethnological Society Meetings, Puerto Rico, April 21, 1996. Mary Rauner, Phil Lowenthal and several anonymous reviewers helped me by comment ing on various drafts.

This essay compares the concept of cultural citizenship, based on an anthropological study of Latino communities in the United States, with the proposal of European identity made by the European Union Administration during the past five years1 . Cultural citizenship and European identity are considered two contemporary and circulating discourses on the relationship between cultural identity and citizenship. Firstly, the essay explains what is to be understood by each. Se condly, it summarizes the main differences between the two and discusses each dimension. Finally, it concludes with a critique of the current European identity project.

Cultural citizenship is the oxymoron that some American anthropologists use to describe chicano’s claims and ideas on citizenship, in certain towns of certain states of the United States (Rosaldo 1994a, 1994b, 1994c). European identity is what I call a project, or more precisely, a desire of the administration of the European Union, as expressed in texts of European law, court cases and other official sources of news and reports2 . Hence, the concepts of cultural citizen ship and European identity differ in nature, content, context, original data gathering procedure and means to access secondary data. The possibility of a comparison and the dimensions that will be used demand more explanation.

According to Bachelard (1960), the conquest of the object against common knowledge is the first step of the cognitive process. It involves an epistemological decision. As distinct realities and words, cultural citizenship and European identity speak th e untranslatable languages of their particular circumstances. As logics or styles to address the relations between identity and citizenship, both are positively focused on how differences leading to cultural identities participate in larger political unit s.

Political and social sciences need a type of analysis in which they are allowed to deal with identity and citizenship as if they were groundless inventions, discourses and practices in continuous remaking. Social constructionism is an approach that emp hasizes the creative as well as the reproductive activity of individuals and collectives. Both cultural citizenship and European identity, though from different angles, advocate for ideas which are not being upheld by the majority. The two of them stress the process of spreading certain values and constructing more suitable institutions. In doing so, both intend to define their communities and, what is more, reposition not only the meaning of being European or American, but also what identity or culture a re in themselves.

On the methodological stand, both of them remain public discourses, highly rhetoric. They already appear stripped of context and practical implementation in their original form. Hence, the analysis chooses to follow the conventions of the early stages of qualitative structural analysis. It focuses on the design of the dimensions, which in turn could be used by software of quantitative content analysis as search topics throughout the larger body of texts. Consequently, although the discourses are brough t to our attention by different means, the methodological rationale is the same: structural analysis to determine the ideal typical constructs. See Delgado and Gutierrez (1994) for further explanation on what I understand by structural analysis. It equals to part of a semiotic approach common to both the Russian and the French school, also utilized by structuralist anthropology in its analyses of myth, although without any of the original formal notation.

Along the study, the constructs elaborated do not become the ideal of cultural citizenship as a whole nor the only existing European identity. My choice of working at the level of the discourse and centering on its structural dimensions does not imply that I forget the conditions in which they are produced. Neither do I intend to extrapolate their dynamic. Discourses ought not to be mistaken for their speakers. This analysis concludes that there are other projects of European identity at other levels o f the Union precisely because it selects only one, from one type of data of a particular source.

Moreover, Rosaldo’s account of cultural citizenship does not represent all kinds of cultural citizenship in America. In fact, it doesn’t even represent all the practices associated with cultural citizenship by the members of the communities studied. Th e terms and the interest of the comparison rely on its theoretical relevance, not on its representative capacity.

Having granted that, I single out cultural citizenship and European identity because they are the most relevant positions in the contemporary debate of citizenship, given the present sociological agenda. They emerge amid questions on whether citizenshi p is still meaningful, how it will relate to post- national states, how it could overcome the limitations of the state and embrace the body of human rights in the context of globalization, transnational movements, localism. They also have in common their eluding earlier assumptions from external observations.

True, the Latino understanding of cultural citizenship is not the only cultural citizenship available, for it takes part in the larger wave of identity politics, politics of citizenship or group politics. The importance of this politics in America’s so ciological agenda is conspicuous. Yet it is the opposite of what an European perspective expected in the context of a nation of immigrants, the creature of European political economy, which had a remarkable civil rights decade, and enjoys the status of in ternational superpower. The American performance in the international arena casts the image of a solid political nationalism. From the outside there is but unity and American nationalism. From the inside the discussion is about multiculturalism, any refer ence to nationalism pointing at a foreign affair. In this regard, coming from the new country that championed citizenship as the bedrock of a nation, the mere presence of cultural citizenship is a discovery in itself that calls for further research.

European identity is analogous to the United States in subverting expectations. The discourse analyzed reveals the large degree to which the position of a widespread feeling of identity of the union is a desirable asset, believed to improve the odds of survival of a multinational and multicultural union. Arguably, the conditions are different, but the formula is the same of earlier European experiences. As cultural citizenship is to a country built upon civil, political and social citizenship, European identity amounts to a surprise in a continent that is said to have come back from too many experiences of the drama of too much “identity”. The American observer would have expected a focus on this diversity and a defense of a political corpus of transna tional citizenship deprived of any ambivalent emphasis on “identity” of the union. If nothing else, this alternative seems to suit better the strategy of a prospective superstate.

In addition to this relevance, cultural citizenship and European identity share a creative selection of historical background. There might be no apparent similarities between cultural citizenship in the United States and a Europe that fears “balkanizat ion” and looks at its past as a “phantom” to avoid. But this depends heavily on how the analyst draws the limits of the relevant periods of time, the types of influences he or she is willing to consider and the viewpoint to adopt. Moreover, it doesn’t rec ognize that the discourses and their actors have drawn distinctions of this kind. In the American case the interaction between the Mexican American minority and the Union seems well defined in time and space. Yet this is only the case once the Mexican sid e is taken for granted as a unit already formed from acculturation of native cultures under the Spanish conquistadors.

European historic background of European identity experiences the same distress. Which past will be on the pedestal? Or if we take the stand as analysts, which side of European roots do we study as influencing most the present strategy of the European Union? We might correctly answer warfare and genocide. The European consciousness is so concerned about escaping from these events that any form of racism or nationalism is now called neonazism. It works as though by resorting to the label we could scare away the feared repetition of the horror. However well meaning, this categorization fosters the impression that racism and genocide were invented in Europe in the twentieth century. Muslims, Jews, Basques, and Scots, among others, know better. For one, se e Netanyahu’s thorough research (1995) on the annihilation and expulsion of Jews in XVth century Spain. Furthermore, the situation of Dominicans or Moroccans in Spain, rightist extremism in Southern France or Northern Italy are among outbursts of national ism and racism in Europe that have little to do with the Holocaust and WWII, either in form or historic context. In summary, including historic influences in any study requires making decisions in need of a broader background which is beyond the scope of this paper. This argument is also facilitated by considering all points of history and nations as potentially comparable in regard to ethnic violence and discourses of identity. Dominant and minority discourses on violence and identity are at the roots of all political institutions based on territory, i.e. empires, nations. Similarly, the world system perspective has increased our awareness of the importance of trans-national influences and worldwide processes in shaping national and local phenomena.

The comparison will be articulated in several categories and dimensions. Much work should be done to turn this categorization into an interdisciplinary tool for international comparison. However, in its present form it is supported by the consistency of a minimal structural analysis of both discourses. More categories could be added and rearranged, though it is my contention that none of the following can be removed. The six dimensions stem from three levels of the discourse: the level of the process of production (context), the level of the narrative (how the action is organized, its structure), and the level of the content (what is said). These dimensions are essential to any analysis of any text and especially relevant in this analysis because of t heir showing the contrast between the two discourses. From the first level (Category A, content production) I select “from where” and “to whom” the discourses are launched. It might seem that Latino cultural citizenship discourse couldn’t be but internal and that labelling European identity as externally produced is an understatement. Yet such a prejudice would incur in the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Why should the Administration of a successful economic union speak of European identity fro m an imaginary external point in regard to all identities of the member states instead of doing it from the internal perspective of transnational practices? Why should the discourse of Latino communities speak of identity from an internal perspective when they seek economic and social entitlements, which are by definition cross-cultural and thus, shared with other minorities and low-income white families? The structure of this discourse should not be taken as a matter of fact but as a crafted relation of ideas, to cite the classic dichotomy once championed by the English philosopher David Hume.

From the level of the narrative (how the action is organized, its structure) I select categories B (political strategy), C (political rival) and D (political goal). They roughly correspond to essential pillars of many narratives as they were remarkably analyzed by Propp (1958) in the Russian folktale. Other scholars such as Lévi-Strauss or Girard are found in this tradition of structuralists. In a typical narrative pattern there exist the hero’s strategy (B) to overcome or outsmart or simply bea t the rival’s resistance (C) in order to attain a goal or object (D). Whereas C and D have been filled with the explicit obstacles and goals defined by the discourses, B is an empty category on the level of what is said by both terms compared. Any critici sm targeting this issue would be justified. Notwithstanding, the critique should also bear in mind that neither discourse fills the category itself. In other words, none answers the question of how the protagonists are going to achieve their political goa l. Instead, both provide much information on a meta-discursive level, and this is the one finally chosen to enable some comparison between strategies.

Ultimately, dimensions E, F and G arise from questioning the content, what is said regarding citizenship and cultural identity. This is the part that relates closer to a standard contemporary content analysis and remains open to broader research. Never theless, I should highlight that what these three boxes read is not apropos Latino or European identity only. Rather, it is what each of them implied concerning citizenship, cultural identity and the relationship between the two as general categories. Dim ensions E, F and G are made up of native statements of social and anthropological theory.

1. The Oxymoron of Cultural Citizenship

Rosaldo (1994a) labels the position of Latino communities in San Jose, Los Angeles, New York City and San Antonio and how they conceive of community and their belonging to America as an oxymoron — cultural citizenship. “Latino’s identity is, in part, shaped by discrimination and by collective efforts to achieve full membership for themselves and their culture” (Rosaldo 1994a:57). Cultural citizenship designates a corpus of discourse captured by several researchers, mostly by doing fieldwork as partici pant observers. Rosaldo’s particular account provides access to the core of that discourse.

Cultural citizenship defends that peoples may continue to be different yet contribute to a participatory democracy. It is a claim to the right to be different and to belong in the nation-state’s democratic life. As Rosaldo points out, cultural citizens hip is not a theoretical oxymoron, nor an all-or-none issue. “From the point of view of subordinated communities, cultural citizenship offers the possibility of legitimizing demands made in the struggle to enfranchise themselves. These demands can range f rom legal, political, and economic issues to matters of human dignity, well-being and respect” (Rosaldo 1994a:57). These demands often take the shape of “first-class citizenship”, that is, people speak of citizenship by means of a continuum drawn from the ir everyday conditions.

In this approach, the previously mentioned metaphor of the melting pot is an ideology of coercive assimilation in the national project. The mainstream puts pressure on minorities to make their differences melt into the national community of the nation- state model. This model also bears an ethic that resembles a zero-sum game3 — the gain of one is always matched by a loss by the other. The more identity, language, self-esteem one pays to the minority, the less of the sa me can go to the mainstream.

Since cultural citizenship is about claiming and expanding rights in the community, it goes hand in hand with a “micropolitics that seeks cultural citizenship in one’s plural communities – neighborhoods, workplaces, churches and activist groups” (Rosal do 1994a:61). It takes on the struggle of people in subordinated communities. It is left wing in new politics of citizenship, and stands for social change, diversity and institutional reform.

The process of collectives coming forward to participate in everyday democratic life is about creating America. They are not merely imagining it (Rosaldo 1994a). Like Hall and Held (1989), Rosaldo applies the core of cultural citizenship to other socia l movements and vulnerable minorities: people of color, recent immigrants, women, gays, and lesbians. This leap brings cultural citizenship in line with what has been called the politics of citizenship. However, there are some differences in content and s cope between cultural citizenship and the leftist politics of citizenship proposed by Hall and Held (1989). I shall refer to the Latino case only, so as to remain within the empirical references of cultural citizenship.

2. In Search of European Identity

Beyond the existing icons of Europeanisation, there is a circulating idea on the need of consciousness of European identity which is being systematically sponsored by the Administration4 of the European Union. By means of citations and paraphrases, I shall outline how this discourse works in official texts of the European Union5 .

With regard to the end and means of having European identity, the texts are highly redundant. A European identity is necessary for the European Union to avoid “fragmentation, chaos and conflict”6 of every kind (military , social, economic and political) and to help achieve cohesion, solidarity, subsidiarity, concertation and cooperation. Almost all potential sources of a European identity are welcome: political and ideological beliefs, economic theory, culture, history, geography, ethnic common destiny, etc. But they all have to be subjectively effective. As Hans Van Den Broek7 suggests, European identity has to crystallize. That is to say Europeans have to increase the feeling of belongi ng together, sharing a destiny and so on. Otherwise the threat of dissolution will come from both inside and outside.

There are two typical contexts for the use of the word identity in the treaties that regulate the European Union from which I have rephrased the last paragraph. First, there exists the need for identity at the level of the Union. Such identity has to b e perceived as clear and distinct from both inside and outside. Secondly, there is the need to respect existing national identities of the Member States.

What is widely known as Maastricht Treaty (Treaty on European Union, published on July 29, 1992) emphasizes the European identity as a goal to achieve in military defense, based on a common defense, being independent and asserting its identity on the i nternational scene. As the Declaration on Western European Union (WEU) reads, one step of critical importance to build such a “genuine European Security and defense identity” is the progressive merger of Western European Union and European Union, by means of which the WEU would become the “defense component” of the Union (today there are members of the European Union which are not members of the WEU).

Such understanding of defense identity is effective today, as is shown by Mrs. Agnelli’s outline of the priorities of Italian Presidency for the first semester of 1996, delivered to the European Parliament on 1/18/96: “External Security. The European U nion must assert its external identity by exercising an “irreplaceable” stabilizing influence…” However, the Treaty only links identity to defense. A report on the functioning of the Treaty released on 5/10/95 broadens the meaning to all Union’s externa l dealings “where it will have to bring a genuine European identity to bear”.

On the other hand, Article F of the Maastricht Treaty reads “Union shall respect the national identities of its Member States”. Taken together, these two aspects (European identity and respect for national identities) set up a segmentary-type model of belongings. It is the same model that Shore (1993) reports having seen pictured by European Administration representatives when asked about the issue. As we shall see, the Union is perfectly aware that such a model deals with a problematic integration. In spite of that, the “hierarchical levels of belonging” tell us that the Union is to get a consciousness and a culture of the same kind of the nations. Only national identity is visible: other sources of a plural culture coming from outside the national id entity (immigration), or below the national level (regions, ethnonational minorities, social movements) do not appear to make the selection.

Once this has been settled, the emphasis on the more inclusive set, the European identity, blossoms all over European policies. Many legal or economic harmonizations, which could be defended as a matter of justice or equal opportunities are stressed in their consequence of strengthening the European identity. For instance, Decision of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of 12/19/95 on protection for citizens on European Union by diplomatic and consular representations reads: “Wh ereas such common protection arrangements will strengthen the identity of the Union as perceived in third countries; Bearing in mind that the introduction of common protection arrangements for citizens of the Union in third countries will also strengthen the idea of European solidarity as perceived by the citizens in question…” (Italics are mine. Here in after I shall use brackets to insert remarks).

Likewise, when the Commission advocates the insertion of a policy on tourism in the European Union Treaty (Green paper of 6/20/95) it argues that “tourism contributes to promoting a European identity”. The Commission Work Program for 1993/94, dated on 2/14/93, addresses the continuation of an “active audiovisual policy designed to promote more extensive cultural exchanges which will accentuate the European identity”. The idea of a European audiovisual policy to lay the foundations of European identity is deeply rooted on the Union project since the Single European Act (1986).

Even the minor proposals, such as that of Luxembourg on providing access to European Union Institution Libraries (3/7/95) emphasizes it as “an important contribution (…) to fostering the spirit of European cohesion and identity in a way which will st rengthen the sense of a common European identity amongst all the citizens of the Union”.

Returning to more central examples, the progress report on the preparation of 1996 Intergovernmental Conference, released on 9/27/95 echoes that the desired adoption of a European citizenship, as regarded in Maastricht Treaty itself, “is perceived as a threat to national identity in some Member States, and that, unless that perception is corrected, they do not think it appropriate to develop either the content or essence of the concept”. Later in the paper, the report will stress the need for spelling out such hostility by preparing “an explanation in clear language which citizens can understand”. The report reflects as well on “the possibility of holding a referendum at Union level on certain matters of general interest, as a transparency measure whic h could also help to strengthen the idea of belonging”.

Moreover, the agenda of the Italian Presidency, as reported by the Reuter European Community Report on 12/18/95, includes provisions to boost European identity, such as “to act more effectively and visibly in areas of great symbolic value, which are ca pable of contributing towards enhancing shared community values (culture, youth, education, tourism, health care)”.

When it comes to reflect directly on what European identity is, the few official texts that deal with such a problematic topic present a circular approach. European identity is both something out there and something that we [European Union Administrati on] contribute to developing and whose border we [European Union Administration] administer. The official reports on external relations or reviewing applications of new members offer a good deal of information in this regard8 .

Upon Russian claim to membership of the European Union and on external relations of the Union with Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, the Economic and Social Committee states on 1/26/95: “Under Article O of the Treaty of European Union any “European” state m ay apply to become a member of the Union. There is of course no clear definition of the word “European”. As the Commission rightly says, the expression embraces geographical, historical and cultural elements which contributes to the European identity. It would therefore appear neither possible nor desirable [for the inside] to lay down once and for all the borders of the European Union, which will need to emerge gradually over an extended period of time”. A previous Commission report on the Criteria (7/3/ 92) went farther in line with it: “The shared experience of proximity, ideas, values, and historical interaction cannot be condensed into a simple formula, and is subject to review by each succeeding generation. The Commission believes that it is neither possible nor opportune to establish a definition”.

Yet, despite a hesitant tone, the Commission put together the European identity and article F of Maastricht Treaty (on democracy and respect to human rights) and reached the following conclusion: “A state which applies for membership must therefore sat isfy the three basic conditions of European identity, democratic status, and respect of human rights”.

The Commission’s evaluation of Sweden’s application (7/12/92) is consistent with these criteria and highlights “her important place in European history and culture”. More subtle is the Commission’s evaluation with Cyprus’ application recognizing that i t has “the kind of European identity that suits it to membership”, although it would be advisable for this country to reach a “peaceful, balanced and lasting settlement of the conflict [with Greece]” (cited in Goebel 1995).

In addition to democracy and human rights, by whose selection the European Union matches the traditionally considered political and ideological content of the nation-state project, as in French and American revolution, other endeavours point more direc tly to economic and even sociological features as solid ground for European identity. In the preparation for the Greek presidency (1/6/94) the Greek Prime Minister said to the Commission “it is vital to bring the Union closer to its citizens and to preser ve the European model, namely the right to work and to fair and satisfactory pay”.

I find slightly different understandings of identity inEurope in only two isolated cases, yet the second case hastily stresses the defensive responsibility of European Union.

a) The Committee on the Regions (11/16/94) discuss the principle of subsidiarity9 and appeals to the “integration of citizens”. Although they address all contemporary concerns of the European Union, the intended addressee is not European identity or the nations. Nor is it the region or the people. The citizen and decentralisation (in terms of subsidiarity principle) are the goals to attain. b) A Reflection Group’s report (12/5/95) distinguishes between the states, which “continue to be the bodies mainly responsible for ensuring economic and social cohesion” and the need for European integration, which is to protect “our plural identity”. Europe faces complexity.

3. Comparing Cultural Citizenship and European Identity Projects

The two projects, cultural citizenship and European identity, differ in various dimensions: content production, political strategy, political rival, political goal, idea of citizenship, idea of cultural identity and relation between citizenship and cul tural identity. This section introduces a comparative discussion in terms of each dimension.

CC stands for Cultural Citizenship
EI stands for European Identity

Brief Description

CC: Right to cultural difference and participation in Democracy
EI: Need to combine national identities in a concentric system under a shared global identity

A. Content production

1) Observer 2) Addressee/actor
CC1) Internal
2) Collective
EI1) External
2) Individual

B. Political strategy

CC1) Open relation w/ social sciences 2) Grounded 3) Bottom up 4) No periphery , multiple centers 5) Political activism

6) Micro

EI1) Concealed relation w/ social sciences 2) Grounding 3) Top down 4) Officialism, central administration 5) Consciousness

6) Macro

C. Political rival

CC1) Universalism

2) Second-class citizenship

EI1) Particularism, culturalism

2) National citizenship

D. Political goal

CC:Multicultural State
EI:National Superstate

E. Idea of citizenship

CC:Relational, politico-economic and cultural rights, subjective
EI:Individual politico-civil and trade-related rights, objective

F. Idea of cultural identity

CC1) Continuum of differences 2) Collectives, interior

3) Everyday shared lifestyle

EI1) Opposition 2) Boundaries, exterior

3) Common heritage, political and technological landmarks in history

G. Relation between citizenship and cultural identity (other than the union’s)

CC: culture AND citizenship
EI: culture OR citizenship

A. Content Production

According to Rosaldo (1989), the observer who is to deal with cultural citizenship has to situate him or herself. She or he is inside the system, for there is no outside. On the other hand, in creating the European identity, European Union Administrat ion has split into observed European Union and observing European Union, defining its own content and limits. By means of a self-observation loop, the observer intends to draw a distinction from the outside and describes the needs of the inside as an omn iscient observer.

Also, cultural citizenship is built by and for collectives. The subject of both political action and sociological description is the collective with awareness — the group raises its voice because the individuals are lacking education, job, housing or dignity and respect. They are not American citizens the way they wanted. The oxymoron is enacted by collectives as much as collectives are the addressee of the oxymoron. Meanwhile, the idea of European identity is targeting the individual. Underneath the states level, the European Union Administration wants the described hierarchy of identities to grow in the voter, citizen, taxpayer, etc.

B. Political Strategy

There are several differences between cultural citizenship and European identity in terms of the political strategy that they deploy in posing their ideas. In both cases the relationship between social sciences and politics is an issue. On both sides , it is easy to follow the commonalities between scientific and political statements — there is a family resemblance between the two of them, a spirit of time. Yet a noteworthy difference remains. Politics and social sciences are interwoven, and have to be explicitly discussed, as cultural citizenship shows and European identity project conceals.

European identity is grounding in traditional fears of Political Science such as social chaos, ethnic separatism and the like, while cultural citizenship is grounded in an ethnographic description of people’s claims. The former, European identity, has to gain public support whereas the latter, cultural citizenship, comes forward because it is supported by the community. Whereas cultural citizenship arises as a bottom up construction, European identity is a top down one.

In the position of cultural citizenship, the collective is seen as an activist, the ultimate subject of political action. The people create and negotiate what America is and define their own community. This political activism implies certain micropolit ics that the collective lives by: demands in neighborhoods, workplaces, church, the mall, etc. It mobilizes every single person in every single space. Distinction between periphery and center is erased.

European identity bears a macropolitical project: the worth of achieving a wide European identity would be cohesion in the political union. It comes from the administrative center and moves towards the periphery. This project does not aim to make the b elonging from scratch. Far from rootless social engineering, the European Union Administration seems to hold the idea of sponsoring an official coming-of-age of the consciousness. Unlike cultural citizenship, European identity does not need political acti vism on the part of the citizens, but only needs simple awareness of the cultural basis underlying the European Union.

C. Political Rival

The political rival of cultural citizenship is the universalism that dismisses the local and cultural attachment as incompatible with universal values, democracy being one of them. In this view, for the time being, the banner of these values have match ed the interests of only a portion of the society. In the past, universalism has even rendered ethnic minorities invisible in the United States. Elsewhere, it is within this context where any political relation between cultural minorities and citizenship is seen as a resistance to the state. In addition to that rivalry, cultural citizenship intends to remove the actual different classes of citizenship based on economic, educational, and ethnic issues. Inequality affects the exercise of citizenship entitle ments.

Conversely, national citizenship as we know it is both reportedly threatened by European identity and reluctant to holding European citizenship. European identity faces its limits when confronting culturalism or particularism at the national level. Eth nic wars in Eastern Europe are a source of concern for the European Union. In that regard, it has been said that some candidates to membership of the European Union from this region should not be “too ethnic”, if they seek admission.

D. Political Goal

Cultural citizenship aims to unfold a multicultural state where every minority contributes. In contrast, the European identity project is to turn the emerging superstate into a political consensus and a national narrative, in time for it to go through some technical simplifications (currency, languages, military forces, law, etc.). In setting such a goal, the “more of the same” dynamic seems sufficient to face the current problem of European identity — at the same time maintaining cohesion and identit y at the union level while respecting the nations. The European Union applies the same nation state invention to a larger scale. As Johan Galtung highlights, it seems as though they (statesmen) did what they know (building states) the best they can10 . Waever and Kelstrup (1993:84) designate this project “to square the European/national circle: make Europe a nation-state of the nation-states Europe”.

E. Idea of Citizenship

Cultural citizenship and European identity sustain two types of citizens. In cultural citizenship, citizenship is about political, civil, economic and cultural rights and duties. They are embodied, shaped and spoken from a cultural background to a rela tional context. European identity is closer to the liberal concept of citizenship: comprised of political and civil rights in the public sphere. The forthcoming European citizen consists of a general holder of economic-related rights in the public sphere 11 . The political, cultural and subjective conditions of the people are greatly overlooked. Also overlooked is the relational context and cultural background in which these conditions are created and interpreted.

F. Idea of Cultural Identity

In terms of cultural citizenship, there exists a continuum of differences significant to people. It is a discourse in which there is no concept of “the Other” as a rival cultural group. In principle, a group has no rival in the different groups per se. The opponent is whoever rejects the possibility of the oxymoron — to be at the same time different in culture and first-class citizens –. In addition to this, the claim to cultural citizenship is pointing to participation in democracy at every level. I t does not emphasize the frontiers of the group, or those of the state, but points to which is common ground for all differences. Moreover, it understands that quotidian life experiences are the source and touchstone of identity. Unlike cultural citizensh ip, the proposal of European identity does not address how to benefit from national and cultural differences. The emphasis relies on how to overcome them. The main concern is how these identities oppose one another and how they will oppose the idea of Eur opean identity. This launching of European identity and the making of its discourse provide a magnificent example of identity and opposition being built simultaneously. It is consistent with this logic to create an enemy from the rivals. The emphasis goes to the political drawing of the boundaries. The making of this cohesive identity appeals to the historical heritage that comes from memorable developments in polity and technology12 .

G. Relation Between Citizenship and Cultural Identity

Cultural citizenship connects culture and citizenship. Its content description shows that it has two aims: first-class citizenship and respect for cultural differences. The idea that these two goals can be attained together without contradiction and wi thout threatening the national unity is simply out of the European identity project. Hence, for the European identity project there is tacitly a choice between culture and citizenship, culture being the local, collective sources of identity at the state l evel and underneath. In this context, the designed citizenship of the European Union would be a mixture between certain universal values, as forming European identity, and the idea of citizenship described before. The result follows the familiar route: Gr eece-Rome-Christianity-Renaissance-Western democracy, which has been called the “from Plato to NATO” definition of “Western Civilization” (see Shore 1993:792; 1994).

4. Conclusion for Europe

The comparison between cultural citizenship and European identity sheds new light on the hazards that the European identity project conveys. If there is one thing that cultural citizenship shows it is that there were and still are other ways to square the circle as long as some of the initial assumptions are questioned. Taking the cultural citizenship discourse as an example, differences do not necessarily challenge the union or attempt to segregate13 . Citizenship can i nclude local interpretations and cultural forms away from the universalism of disembodied political values. I am aware that cultural citizenship discourse has links to a political background in campus and nation-wide polity, a.k.a. multiculturalism, which I have kept away from my discussion. But we have not studied the praxis of regulations issued by the European Union in the name of European identity project. Nor have we addressed “multicultural” provisions adopted by several states under the supranation al level of the European Union. Both the input and the outcome of this essay deal with the project-making terrain, not with impact-evaluation.

Likewise, the historical context for the launching of European identity does not prescribe its identity or how such European identity is to be promoted. To reconstruct social analysis in the light of situated knowledge, partial perspectives, or positio ned observers, under a constructionist approach, I ask what these “descriptions” are or might be doing to society. As distinctions made by observers, I seek both intentions and side-effects or unintended consequences. The supposedly necessary and inevitab le aspects of reality have to be temporarily bracketed off in an epoche-like turn.

Using Anderson (1983) as a frame of reference, I argue that the way in which the European Union is launching European identity is that of an official nationalism. It wholeheartedly wishes to create a superstate. In following the chosen procedure to do so, European identity resembles the style of nationalism and imperialism that flourished in Europe after 1850s (Russia, British Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire…) Like it, European identity is meant to respond to threats of national populism, intends to overcome the pressure both from underneath (unemployment, minorities, etc.) and outside (growing immigration), and aims to be effective in terms of propaganda, militarism, primary education, rewriting of history and affirmation of identity. These words ar e repeatedly assembled with this significance in the analyzed texts. Not only does this nationalism fail to relate the European identity with all the cultural network in the nation-states, ethnic minorities (traditional and new14 ) and so on, but it also ignores the relationship between them and the future European identity and citizenship.

For European nations to achieve a European Union beyond the economic level, without becoming victims of their own success, they have to step back from the idea of nation and start working towards a plural and cultural citizenship, with special regard t o the rights of second-class, low-speed or ex-communist citizens. I concur with declaring pluralism or barbarism (Liebich 1995:38). Our major investment should go to designing pluralism in citizenship as the crossroads of globalization and localization.

Since the union is meant to be truly democratic and sensitive, minimizing centralization and empowering local administrations, there should be no more need for inter-state cultures to split out and attempt the construction of a homogeneous nation-state . There should not be a perceived threat in identity terms15 .

Should Europeans strengthen the mechanism of the ethno-national border and allow national, economic or legal inequalities to penetrate and shape the idea of a European citizenship? If so, we may face the escalation of nationalism, the reconstruction of tradition by violent means (Giddens 1994), and the grounding of economic and social inequities in cultural and even biological differences (Ferrarotti 1993). Then, should Europeans strengthen the idea of European citizenship based on transnationalism, hu man rights and constitutional principles 16 , supporting it as the true uniqueness of European historic identity? If so, we might face again the same consequences. The multiculturalist group politics of the American style is not a solution to the European identity p uzzle. But in addressing how to deal with citizenship and cultures, it certainly poses the problem in a subtler manner and reaches beyond the segmentary models of belonging.


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1. The European identity debate is older than these events. I choose to begin my analysis in 1990 because of two reasons: a) there has been an increase in the focus on the construction of the European Union in and after Maastrich t; b) this period coincides with the studies on Latino communities that led to the development of a particular use of cultural citizenship.

2. I have searched the following full-text on-line databases: CELEX (European Communities law), ECTY and ASIL files (European Treaties and Agreements) ECCASE (European Court of Justice cases), COMDEC (European Commission decision s applying fair competition rules) and ECNEWS (news from the European Union filed by agencies). All of them are available via LEXIS-NEXIS. The original search request was EUROPE! W/20 IDENTITY OR COHESION W/20 UNION. In addition, I resort to my year-long research experience on the impact of the Uruguay Round regulations over Spanish Industrial and Trade Companies, through the mediation of European Union policies. See La Ronda Uruguay del GATT: Impacto sobre la Empresa Espanyola. Madrid, Ministerio de Come rcio y Turismo, 1995. The study consisted of nine chapters devoted to the principal headings of GATT regulations. They combine law comparison, econometrical analysis and qualitative data gathered in conversations, participation in sectorial meetings, elit e interviews and a poll to the top 100 Spanish companies that trade outside the EU.

3. Rosaldo calls this logic “the ethic of the pie’ or ‘hydraulic model”. See 1994b:403,410.

4. The European Union Administration, in the broadest sense, includes the activity of the Commission, Council, Intergovernmental Conferences, and Reflection Groups.

5. For a methodological justification of this procedure in the early stages of qualitative data analysis see Delgado (1994).

6. Citation from keynote address by Jacques Santer, President of the European Commission to the World Telecommunications Forum 1995 Opening Ceremony (Geneva, 10/3/95).

7. Speech delivered to the Institute for European Studies, Brussels, 3/17/94 on The Challenge of a Wider Europe. Citation from the European Commission Press Release.

8. Goebel (1995) provides further details on the last negotiations with candidates. Although focusing on the constitutional impact of new accessions rather than on cultural aspects, he depicts the importance of applications for t he perceived success of the union.

9. I am aware of the ambivalent meaning of this concept. At the same time, it is held responsible for more centralization and more decentralization. It is widely admitted that the Maastricht Treaty intended to protect the sovere ignty of the states. See Marquardt(1994: 637-640) for an understanding of subsidiarity as essentially corrosive to the nation state.

10. For Galtung (1989) there is no doubt about the future development of a European superstate, built in the traditional seventeenth century style. In his view, this superpower is likely to rewrite the history of previous rises a nd falls of European giants. He argues that the alternative is the resistance of other Europes as distinct projects: the global Europe, geographically and historically interwoven; the Europe of local governments; the Europe of peoples; and even the NATO a s a separated structure.

11. For a critique of the liberal concept of citizenship see Donati. He coins “societal citizenship” as an alternative, being relational, contextual and focused on social aspects. His concept “envisages and indeed promotes an as sociative, most competent and self-managed citizenship, in the framework of a welfare state that ensures a smooth operation of the citizen’s rights and duties through a relation-oriented management, which takes care of and coordinates social policies in a non-monopolistic and non-residual manner” (1995:306).

12. See Papcke (1992) for an approach to European identity that stresses this historical interconnection and addresses it as typically European. In addition, Papcke points to the invention of the individual and his/her free will, the notion of political liberty and the emergence of civil society as the truly core of Europeanness. Also, see Latour (1993) and his analysis of the Constitution of modernity. Heller (1992:12-15) does not hesitate to name this project “a revival of Euro pean Enlightment”.

13. Unlike Rosaldo (1994c), Schierup (1995) and Waever (1993) have cast their doubts on the future of the United States as one united country.

14. Among the traditional, Messina (1992:52) lists the Scots and Welch in Britain; Northern Irish Catholics; Basques, Catalans and Galacians in Spain; Alsatians, Bretons, and Corsicans in France; Walloons in Belgium and Belgium’s Flemish population. Regardless of whether the listing is complete, I shall note the emphasis on the traditional aspect, in contrast with newer minorities who settled in Europe during recent immigrations. Messina has devoted several papers to the interact ive “two tiers of ethnic conflict”: the traditional ethnoterritorial and ethnonational minorities, and the aspirations of the new ethnic and racial minorities. Their interests collide in different ways that are often expressed in identity conflicts.

15. See Waever (1993:23) and his concept of societal security for an analysis of security concerns of the political agenda in several European countries.

16. Habermas (1992) defends a new European citizenship stemming from “the same universalist rights and constitutional principles which are marked by the context of different national histories. Switzerland is an example of how c ommon politico-cultural self- image stands out against the cultural orientations of the different nationalities” (1992: 12). Along with a liberal immigration policy, informed by moral principles, and the active praxis of citizens, the constitutional aspec t would have to be the core of European Union and an active part of a world citizenship. In his opinion, there is tension between citizenship and national identity. Their connection in history is accidental.

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