Link: Pomian on European History and Identity

Primary version of this post, with visual content, at Barry Stocker’s Weblog.

‘European identity: Historical fact and political problem’ by Krzysztof Pomian. Eurozine. 24th August 2009.

Pomian is a Polish philosopher with academic and European Museum appointments in Paris, Brussels and Torun.

A very compressed narrative of Europe since the interaction of the Ancient Greeks and Celts. Pomian refers to two unifications of Europe: Medieval Latin Christendom and the Enlightenment. The possibility that this could reduce Europe to over simplistic moments of apparent unity, is counteracted by a rich discussion of the different elements of Europe, including the Muslim and Ottoman elements. and the various rifts in Europe, There are tensions in the essay between a Cassicist-Christianist essentialisation and a more plural and even antagonistic view of Europe, but no one can completely avoid that kind of problem. The divisions between Rome and Constantinople, Greek and Barbarian, Christian and Muslim, East and West, and various others are fully recognised. Pomian makes a convincing case for the necessity of talking about European identity in history and politics, while recognising the failure of political Europe to connect with the ways in which the ideas of European identity are embedded in all forms of culture.

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