Fabricating Europe: The Formation of an Education Space

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The position of Albania and the states of former Yugoslavia with the exception of Slovenia are dependent on greater political stability. It was notable, however, that as soon as Kostunica was elected president there was talk of eventual EU membership in both Belgrade and Brussels.

Acknowledgments in: Fabricating Modern Societies: Education, Bodies, and Minds in the Age of Steel

Morocco, Israel and the Ukraine have all contemplated membership of the EU. Though Norway and Switzerland prosper outside the EU and Turkish growth rates are higher than those of member states, a main motivation for wishing to join is economic. The enhanced prosperity of Spain, Portugal and Greece following their accession would seem to justify this.


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For these reasons, membership is an important political and cultural aspiration in the Baltic States, for instance. There are several ways in which this presents a misleading picture Jones, ; Budge, Newton et al. It seems to suggest an endless and ineluctable expansion of the EU. This need not be the case. It is quite possible that states will be one day queuing up to leave as they are now attempting to enter.

Although Greece joined the euro-zone in January , the referendum in Denmark came down against membership of the common currency. Were a similar referendum to be held in the UK in the near future, it is almost certain that there would be a similar result. There are indications that in Germany, too, the new currency is far from popular. In Sweden, France and the UK, large sections of popular opinion would be in favour of actually withdrawing from the EU. State chauvinism as well as the democratic deficit of the EU are among the reasons for this failing popularity.

Despite the level of political rhetoric and activism, the EU may not even be the most important super-national identity in Europe. The Bosnian wars revealed the divisive and incompetent foreign policy of the Union. In many cases they are the same states. Despite French and Greek recalcitrance in the past, unlike the EU, there are few indications in the current climate of states wishing to withdraw from NATO. The deepening of the EU will prove a more difficult task than widening.

In many ways, these processes are contradictory and mutually defeating. The more states that join the Union, the harder it will be to achieve agreement. The extension of qualified majority voting might help this but there are still areas where states will retain a veto.

Furthermore, it is hard to imagine the extension of the imprudent and unpopular common agricultural policy to large states such as Poland. The more successful the EU is at homogenising the policy of states, the more difficult it will be for new states to join as the convergence criteria will increase in both number and difficulty. An enlarged and deepened, homogenized Europe becomes an increasingly remote possibility. The euro-zone already provides an example of two-speed or multi-tranche Europe. NATO membership ipso facto provides another dimension of this.


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  6. It is possible that what will emerge will be a multidimensional Union with states choosing which aspects of policy they opt into. A state like the Netherlands might prefer to participate in all Union policies whereas another, like the UK, might be happy to belong to European trade agreements but prefer to stay out of the eurozone and Schengen, to withdraw from the agricultural policy and in practice actually to prioritize its membership of NATO, its links with the USA and its Atlantic position.

    As well as supranational organizations, many European states are apparently threatened by the growth of regionalism and small-scale nationalism Harvie, Belgium and Spain have adopted highly federal policies to deal with national distinctiveness. The UK has recently taken less radical but surely irreversible steps along this road.

    The Northern League in Italy Richards, and Breton and Corsican movements in France Ardagh, ; Larkin, ; Fenby, provide further examples of the failed attempt to impose congruence between nation and state.


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    Nationalism remains a prevalent ideology of almost all of Europe Anderson, ; Bhabha, ; Featherstone, ; Ignatieff, ; Khazanov, The focus of this nationalism may have changed in some places to a more regional level but this seems only to increase its fervency: in Catalunja and Scotland as well as in Latvia and Croatia. Whilst the space of flows see below is likely to undermine the role and power of states, the breakdown of democratic and civic institutions in the face of globalization may mean, paradoxically, that people cling to state forms.

    This may indeed be assisted by the shift of power and symbolism to the more local level. The emergence of Wales and Wallonia deceptively appears to produce greater congruence between state and nation. But English as much as Bangladeshi speakers in Cardiff and Dutch as well as Turkish speakers in Charleroi would seem to have little place in these imagined communities. Nationalism is a double-edged sword for states: it can assist in their formation and solidarity but it can also create fractures, disunity and dissolution. States will seek to preserve power at their level and nationalism will be one of the tools they employ.

    Control over school curricula will be central to this activity. The cultures of Europe are manifold: the product of settlement millennia old and of more recent demographic movements. To the linguistic, religious and historical diversity of states such as France and Spain have been added the cultures of migrant groups, themselves astonishingly heterogeneous. Cultures are created and recreated through interaction. The speed and diversity of this interaction may have accelerated in Europe but it is a process as old as civilization.

    It is not, of course, a purely spontaneous process: the state and other agencies play a part in the discursive strategy of culture; traditions may be invented, homelands imagined. The innumerable manifestations of the richness of this cultural diversity are something which school and university systems in particular are empowered by their states either to encourage or to inhibit.

    Europe itself, of course, remains a problematic entity. Whilst not rehearsing in detail arguments made elsewhere Coulby, a , the boundaries of Europe to the west and south as well as to the east are far from clear. They are defined by politics and cultural inscription rather than by geography. In the context of the European space, as in others, the cold war vocabulary of east and west is inappropriate as well as inaccurate.

    It implies economic triumphalism and the marginalization of certain states. Its politics have not been marginal to peace and war in Europe for the last years. Nor are the politics of this region the product of local aberration: as Turkey and Austria-Hungary declined, Russia, France, Germany and the UK all pursued interventionist foreign policies in the area, a practice now followed by the USA Glenny, Any attempt to describe the emerging European space needs to take account of Russia. It would be a mistake to believe that Russian power, economic as well as political, would fail to revive.

    As a medium-term strategy this may prove to be hazardous. EU and US impotence in the face of the destruction of Grozny in late and the subsequent regime of murder and torture indicate the limits of the New World Order. Russian is the language which no one wants to learn in schools and universities across Europe and how the West won the cold war is the accepted version of late twentieth-century history.

    School and university curricula may be assisting in the inscription of the enmities of the twenty-first century Coulby, a, b, b.

    The fab shops in Belgium strive for the same efficiencies as their stateside counterparts

    European space is increasingly structured not by regional, state or continental boundaries but by networks and pathways that operate to a dynamic of flows and movement Castells, , , : at the end of the twentieth century, we are living through one of these rare intervals in history. Despite their ageing populations, many European states are currently attempting to implement rigorous immigration policies, for instance, in the belief that this flow can be controlled.

    By contrast, the rapid shifts of capital as transnational corporations invest and disinvest are much more difficult to control. National curricular systems allow states to determine which foreign languages their citizens should study but the spread of the worldwide net is appreciably less susceptible to political control. Certainly, ICT developments have changed not only patterns of communication but also the ways in which knowledge itself is stored, retrieved and communicated.

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    European space is increasingly structured not by regional, state or continental boundaries but by networks and pathways that operate to a dynamic of flows and movement. The exploitative possibilities of the space of flows involve the marginalized groups in Europe.

    Working-class and immigrant families, the familiar victims of exploitation and oppression, are now characterized as having digital deficit. Furthermore, Europe, particularly the EU, continues to use its post-industrial advantage to exploit large areas of Africa, Latin America and Asia in terms of relations of trade. There is, finally, a danger that this new structuration of the European space will be accompanied by the breakdown of civic and democratic institutions.

    Local governments are losing authority both to centralising states and to the new regions. At all levels and in many states people are participating less in democratic elections. In the onset of global capital, sometimes, as in the UK, abetted by right-wing governments, trade union membership and influence has declined. On the other hand, non-democratic institutions are being increasingly empowered. Transnational corporations are obviously central here: which European government can retain authority in the face of investment decisions by Ford or Shell?

    The democratic deficit of the EU means that many its institutions, and particularly the Commission, are seen as part of this exploitative thrust.

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    The emergence of the space of flows is not, of course, an exclusively European phenomenon. In global terms, Europe is linked to other hot spots, Singapore and South Korea as well as Japan and the USA, where economic and social change are leading to a reconfiguration of space.

    Indeed, it is only in global terms that these changes can be understood. This restructuring of the European space attendant on globalization is likely to continue. The European space cannot be an economic or cultural fortress. But globalization does not imply homogenization in either cultural or economic terms: again, the pattern is of diversity, of overlapping and fluid forms. Within Europe there are centres of post-industrial expansion—Finland, Catalunja, southern England—as well as areas of traditional agriculture—Transylvania, the Scottish Highlands.

    Similarly, cultural traditionalism continues in Catholic Ireland as well as Orthodox Serbia, and the cultural successes of modernity—pop music, television, films, fast food, newspapers and magazines—are apparently ubiquitous in Europe. Within this space of flows, knowledge itself has become the most important international trading commodity Neef, This is not, however, the familiar scientific, progressive, imperialistic knowledge of the Enlightenment Lyotard, Although the knowledge taught in schools would seem to differ dramatically from this, university knowledge and the experience of learning from the Internet are closer to the contingent, temporary, commodified knowledge of the knowledge economy.

    Europe is also in other areas a persistently underperforming producer. Despite initiatives at EU level, Europe is highly dependent on imported chip technology and software. Within this European space, absolute resource shortage and environmental degradation may become increasingly more important constraints than the politics of boundary maintenance. Thus, the transportation of oil from Kazakhstan to the industrial areas of north-east Europe may be the determining issue of both economic prosperity and war and peace.

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    What is at issue here is the nature of the flow of the commodity. Across whose territory will this commodity pass?

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