The Essence and the Margin

National Identities and Collective Memories in Contemporary European Culture


Volume Editors: Laura Rorato and Anna Saunders
With the expansion of the EU and calls for a European constitution, the question of a common European identity has become increasingly pressing in recent times. However, in the face of diverse national and regional traditions – and the absence of an obvious European cultural imaginary – the forging of a strong sense of European identity proves problematic. This volume brings together case studies of national and regional images from across Europe, which together suggest emerging patterns of identification within contemporary Europe – patterns which may not necessarily amount to a European ‘identity’, but rather to a European ‘mode’ of identification. The chronological structure of the volume demonstrates the increasingly problematic nature of national collective memories and past imaginaries in light of emergent marginal voices and images, and suggests that it is both from beyond and within the national paradigm that new challenges are now reshaping the cultural imaginary of European communities. Focusing on cultural images within film, literature, national narratives and myths, museum exhibitions and architecture, this volume is of interest to a wide variety of disciplines in the humanities, and presents an interdisciplinary approach to questions of cultural memory and identity formation.

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”What emerges from this volume’s rich narrations and descriptions is a new European mode of cultural recollection and imaginary, which goes beyond the national paradigm. There is no one unified European identity, but rather multiple and constantly changing images of collective identities, which transcend the past to the future. As Anna Saunders’s introduction suggests, it is time to learn from these identities and work towards building a transnational and trans-regional community against the challenges of the twenty-first century (19).” - Bahar Otcu-Grillman, Mercy College, USA, in: The European Legacy, April 2013, pp. 389-91