Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD Program

Faculty of Humanities




Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD Program

Paul Williams

Intersecting Differences in the European Union: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Citizenship, Identity and Group Representation

I am proposing to put forth the argument that European integration should be understood in the context a politics of difference because although the European Union (EU) has attempted to foster convergence of its member states, it has developed through a process of both cosmopolitanism and communitarianism. At the national level, immigration has resulted in a political discourse of multiculturalism and pluralism, as well as calls for increasing recognition and inclusion based on difference on behalf of excluded and oppressed groups. At the EU level, states themselves have made calls for recognition and political participation, as well as demands for the protection of their national identity and interests. European integration has resulted in states to engage in a politics of recognition at an EU level, but also a discussion of the limits (or frontiers) of both national and European identities and giving new impetus to discussions of identity politics. However, states are not the only actors making such claims. The EU, as a transnational organization, has attempted to form an EU citizenship and an EU political sphere that moves beyond the national level (the post-national). Transnational social movements and non-governmental organizations representing such groups as women, Muslims and the Roma in Europe have attempted to engage in a European political discourse which is no longer solely dependent upon the state as the guarantor of rights. Stemming from both its supranational and intergovernmental institutions, the EU functions as a series of deliberative political and economic institutions, which must account for both unity and diversity.