Call for Papers n°2

Europe 27- Ethnographies of European citizenship



André Burguière, directeur d’études, EHESS, CRH

Monica Heintz, maître de conferences, Université Paris Nanterre, LESC



For decades the anthropology of Europe has been mostly concerned with national identities, cultural diversity, religious dynamics and Europe’s place in the world. But the construction of the European Union has fuelled a political approach in terms of citizenship and generated new research on the circulation of people and goods, frontiers and European institutions in the 1990s (Goddard et al., 1994; Bellier and Wilson, 2000). Mairead Nic Craith (2004) was noticing that the concept of citizenship is insensitive to the cultural questions addressed by anthropologists, while, we can note in turn that anthropologists’ obsession with historical and cultural specificities has loosened their sensitiveness to the political, social and economic constants in the EU citizens’ lives and to the increasing gaps between their lives and those of the neighbouring non-EU citizens. As the crises that the European Union has known (refugees’ allocation, terrorism, Brexit) have shown recently, the EU has become an under-questioned, obvious entity, which is scrutinised only when criticised, contested or denied. Within this frame, the main researches addressing the EU have been dedicated to questions of migration and management of multiculturalism within the member states, while most open contestations of UE legitimacy (around the vote for the European Constitution for instance) come from the uncertainty of a social Europe, inheritor of post-WWII welfare states. How does Europe look like 25 years after the signature of the Maastricht Treaty and what kind of ethnographic approaches could anthropologists propose in order to capture it?

In this special issue, we aim to gather articles dealing with what it means to be an  European citizen today, with regard to the civic, social and political rights of the individual (Marshal, 1951), through ethnographic case studies conducted within the European union states and at their gates, among aspiring states, political refugees, economic migrants. Away from the top down approaches of political sciences, we are looking for bottom up approaches to European citizenship and will vary the scales of observation in order to propose new readings of the links between micro and macro-identities within Europe. While Aihwa Ong (1999) and Nina Glick Schiller (2001) focus on citizenship belonging as a result of transnational movement, the question of European citizenship raises specific questions: different from the multiple citizenships derived from globalisation, European citizenship is always multi-layered, rendering the disentanglement of what is specific to the ‘European’ side of it difficult, both at the individual and at the collective level. When do people act and think of themselves as “European citizens”? How is European belonging experienced on a daily basis? What moments, encounters, events or conflicts revive an identity usually lived with in a low intensity mode?  What other moments lead to the rejection and denial of this belonging, in which one would not recognise oneself anymore, and what actions and imaginaries are generated as a result? By addressing these questions through the daily observation of Europeans markers- some notorious, others yet to be identified-, we wish to incite to rethink European norms and values as ordinary practice, while they are often conceived in their formal, ideatic dimension, far from the thickness of social reality. But we would also like to draw attention to those facts, actions, collective phenomena that challenge European norms and values: the respect of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, the respect of human rights and those of minorities (Treaty of Lisbon, 2007). Indeed, at the level of institutions, associations, enterprises, as much as at the individual level, Europeanity is continuously challenged and negotiated (Neveu, 2003).

Among the contributions that could throw light on this common yet rather under-researched subject, we would especially encourage articles that propose:

  1. Ethnographies dealing with central European institutions (in the field of justice as the European Court of Human Rights, or governance as the European Commission, or politics as the European Parliament), following the pioneering work of Marc Abèles (1996), Chris Shore (2000) or Irène Bellier (2007) that allowed to show how a new identity – with its rules, norms and symbols- is built through political will and to identify the obstacles and the successive manipulations of this new identity ‘by decree’ by the population concerned (for instance LiPuma and Melzoff, 1994 on the claims of Iberian fishermen). Contributions addressing the implementation of European directives at the national, regional or local level would also be welcome (such as ethnographies on the implementation of the university reforms following the Bologna process, or on the application of the common agricultural policy).
  1. Ethnographies dealing with the process of European integration of new members states (whether in process or at the stage of aspiring members), where the very notion of Europeanness and the limits of national sovereignty are negotiated. Similarly, ethnographies bearing on the processes of dis-integration – Brexit, or the discussions around Frexit and Grexit (Green et al., 2016)- and on the re-assertion of regional identities (such as the 2017-18 crisis in Catalogna). In the same line, the necessity to adopt a common background before integrating the EU has imposed many changes across the economic, political and social fields of the new member states, especially when local measures were weaker or even in disagreement with European regulations (Fox, 2011). Ethnographies of these transformations that accompany the post-socialist transition in Eastern European states who have recently joined the EU or are in the process of integration, are particularly rich in negotiations of identity, citizenship rights, policy, and economic measures.
  1. Ethnographies addressing the management of mobility, within Europe (students and apprentices via Erasmus+, mobile workers, tourism) and outside Europe (economic migration, refugees, diasporas). They should allow us to see how in a globalised world the rights and duties are negotiated between different member states, between member states and the EU, depending on the multiple citizenship affiliations and the contemporary global geopolitics. In this field, research around the place of frontiers in Europe such as the volume edited by B. Petric and J.-F. Gossiaux (2009) for the 20thanniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall could be extremely inspiring.
  1. Ethnographies of institutional economic practices (the introduction of a common currency, the granting of European subventions, the Europeanization of national enterprises) and of their impact on daily life (from the homogenisation of revenues to the homogenisation of life styles and home interiors). This research direction allows reflecting on the emergence of a European profile on the basis of “common” ethnographic objects.

Proposals including a title and an abstract of 4000-6000 characters, bibliographical references included, are welcome by the 10thof December 2018. They should contain, besides the main argument, a clear reference to the material (field data, archives) that has been used, and a short bio-bibliographical note regarding the author. Proposals should be sent to the coordinators: mheintz@parisnanterre.frand Selected articles will be notified during January 2019. Final texts (35000 to 70 000 characters, space and bibliography included) should be ready by the 30thof April 2019. This special issue is due for early July 2020.



Abélès Marc, 1996, “La Communauté Européenne: une perspective anthropologique”, Social Anthropology, IV(1) : 33-45.

Bellier Irène et Thomas Wilson (eds), 2000, An Anthropology of the European Union: Building, Imagining and Experiencing the New Europe, Oxford, Berg.

Bellier Irène (dir.), 2007, Images of Europe : the cultural patterns of European Enlargement, DVD-rom (institutionnel), Cultpat.

Carrier James (dir.), 1995, Occidentalism: Images of the West, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

Craith Mairead N., 2004, “Culture and citizenship in Europe. Questions for anthropologists”, Social Anthropology, XII : 289-300.

Fox Katy, 2011, Peasants into European Farmers? EU Integration in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, Zürich and Berlin, Lit Verlag.

Glick Schiller Nina, 2001, George Woke Up Laughing, Durham, Duke University Press.

Goddard Victoria A., Josep R. Llobera and Chris Shore (eds.), 1994, The anthropology of Europe : identity and boundaries in conflict, Oxford, Berg.

Green Sarah, et al., 2016, “Brexit Referendum : First reactions from anthropology'”, Social Anthropology, XXV(3) : 478-502.

LiPuma Edward et S.K. Meltzoff, 1994, “Economic Mediation and Power of Associations: Toward a Concept of Encompassment”, American Anthropologist, 96: 31-51.

Marshall T.H., 1951, Citizenship and social class, Cambridge, CUP.

Neveu Catherine, 2003, Citoyenneté et espace public : Habitants, jeunes et citoyens dans une ville du Nord, Lille, Presses universitaires du Septentrion.

Ong Aihwa, 1999, Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality, Durham, Duke University Press.

Petric Boris et Jean-François Gossiaux (eds), 2009, Europa mon amour 1989-2009, Paris, Editions Autrement.

Shore Chris, 2000, Building EuropeThe cultural politics of European integration, London, Routledge.

Wilson Thomas M., 1998, “An anthropology of the EU, from above and from below” in Susan Parman (ed.), Europe in the Anthropological Imagination, NJ, Prentice-Hall.

CFP Europe 27