Armbruster, Heidi, Rollo, C. and Meinhof, Ulrike H.
Imagining Europe: everyday narratives in European border communities
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 29, (5), . (doi:10.1080/1369183032000149622).
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This article examines the role of 'Europe' in our border narratives. One of the most striking parallels across our entire data set was the absence of Europe or 'Europeanness' as a self-chosen category of identification. In contrast to other categories, European references only appeared in response to direct questions by the interviewers. This article shows how people conceptualised Europe and the EU, once invited to do so by the interviewer. Both Westerners (all citizens of EU member-states) and Easterners (all citizens of ascendant EU member-states) anchored their views in distinctly local contexts. At the same time there were many narrative and discursive overlaps on either side: Westerners often construed a congruence between Europe and the EU and used this thematic field to define their own national and socio-economic identity. For many Easterners the links between Europe and the EU were much less clear and the topic provided a discursive field within which people articulated a sense of economic and political disempowerment. In both cases Europe generated the clearest sense of belonging only when it came into play as an out-grouping device against immigrants who are deemed non-Europeans.
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