Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook (Intellect journal)
Europe at the Crossroads: Cinematic Takes
The history of the idea of ‘European identity’ can be described in terms of, on one hand, a constant oscillation between two poles, one instrumental or pragmatic (the Europe of norms), the other affective (the Europe of values and feelings) and, on the other hand, in terms of a continuous, unresolved conflict between the belief in some ineffable European ‘spirit’ or ‘ethos’ and the outright rejection of any sort of ‘European identity’. Indeed, a recurring theme in all critical writings on Europe and European identity is the idea that to be European is to doubt that there is something like a ‘European identity’. To illuminate the ambiguity pervading attempts to define European identity one need only juxtapose the traditional characteristics of Europeanness deriving from the continent’s founding philosophical and religious traditions, including Christianity, Roman law and the Enlightenment—here ‘Europeanness’ is defined in relation to the concepts of the polis, citizenship, democracy and participation, rationalism, universality and cosmopolitanism—with the immense contradictions underlying the concept of Europeanness defined in relation to political and economic circumstances.
Over the last couple of decades Europe has seen a trend of populist right-wing parties riding on the wave of multicultural backlash across Europe, gaining widespread support with xenophobic nationalist-populist slogans purporting to save ethno-nationalist culture from the threat of immigrants. The Brexit referendum, following a prolonged political campaign of heightened anxiety over border control, was simply the most dramatic expression of the crisis of democracy Europe is facing. The sweeping territorial recalibration following the establishment of the EU has led many scholars to declare the emergence of a post-national European identity and citizenship based on mobility and universal human rights rather than on the rights of persons as members of nation-states. In Tracking Europe: Mobility, Diaspora, and the Politics of Location (2010) Ginette Verstraette claims that the notion of “imagined mobility” has become more essential to the notion of European identity than Benedict Anderson’s influential idea of “imagined community,” which is still territorial in nature. However, while it might seem that we have entered a post-national age marked by identities that are provisional, fluid, incoherent and ephemeral, the nation state has not lost any of its relevance or authority: regardless of the supposed dissolution of borders under globalization, modern citizenship still embeds identity and legal rights in the territorial nation-state.
The purpose of this special issue of Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook is to reflect on contemporary debates around the concepts of ‘Europe’ and ‘European identity’ through an examination of European films from 2000 to the present dealing with various aspects of globalization (the refugee crisis, labor migration, the resurgence of nationalism and ethnic violence, neoliberalism, transnational commodification, post-colonialism, transnational capital etc.) with a particular attention to the ambiguities and contradictory aspects of the figure of the migrant and the ways in which this figure challenges us to rethink European identity and its core Enlightenment values (citizenship, justice, ethics, liberty, tolerance, and hospitality). Migrants and refugees have become, in Rey Chow’s words, ‘the new ‘primitives’ of Europe. On the other hand, however, the migrant/refugee has also been celebrated as a 1) symbol of ‘nomadic excess’; 2) the ‘structural excess’ constitutive of law and morality; 3) a utopian figure representing a model for rethinking the idea of ‘Europe’ and of ‘European identity’.
Please send a 300-word proposal and a short bio to the guest editor of the special issue, Temenuga Trifonova, at email@example.com by February 15, 2019. Final papers will be due August 15, 2019.