Blog 25th February 2022
Two research questions are guiding me in the exploration of the funding and management of Socially Engaged Art. One is how small to medium scale socially and politically engaged performance institutions organise and foster resilience; the second is why and how can Europe support these forms of institutionalisation.
The attempt to gain a European-wide perspective on the matter begs questions about what Europe is, and perhaps later definitions, given ‘Europe’ refers to considerably more than geographic delineations. Scholars in the fields of international affairs and public policy in their various economic, cultural, and security orientations deliberate on Europe as a power. While all consent to the observation of Europe from a perspective of force and capabilities, they contest the type of power that best captures what Europe is about and what it does. In this months’ blog, I will attempt to articulate why the perspective of Europe as a Power intrigues me, and how I believe it connects to Socially Engaged Art and Policy.
The European integration emerges in the context of the Second World War, which in 1945 left the continent divided and demolished in some parts. Europe starts its process of constitutionalisation first as an economic community and then later expands to having unified responsibilities and legal authority in areas of security, defence, foreign affairs, and culture. Having suffered the devastating force of extreme nationalism during WW2, Europe unifies on a moral ground, or more specifically as the 1999-2009 EU high representative for common foreign and security policy, Mr. Javier Solana, put it: a “force of good … [and a] … peacebuilder in the world” (2007, p.266). Solana portrays the European Union as such in a period where its enlargement is in full momentum (entry of 12 countries during 2004-2007), and where its currency is strengthening as increasing number of European countries adopt the Euro. The European Union obtains a legal personality in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, which amends all the former treaties about the functioning of the EU and its constitutional basis. This summits in the year 2012, when the EU receives a Nobel Prize for having “contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe” (The Nobel Prize, 2012). Informed by these cardinal events in the union’s process of consolidation and global standardisation of its political, economic, and cultural stand, the EU has been analysed and critiqued with regard to what type of power it asserts to be, and how this power is being exercised in whatever the EU proactively works toward in all departments. The value-based membership in the union, namely the European identity, has been providing the ground from which the concept of Europe as a Normative Power emerges, emphasising Europe’s role and influence over opinion and idea (Manners, 2002, p. 239) and rendering its actions in world politics normative (p.252). The concept of Europe as a Normative Power along with its correlative, Civilian Power (Duchene, 1972), are premised on the gradual transformation in the format of political struggles, stepping out of the sphere of armed conflicts into one of international relations, amid the Cold War and following it.
Article 1a in the Treaty of Lisbon officially asserts the values on which the European Union is founded: “…respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail” (European Parliament, 2007). The European Union has been long considered a cultural project (De Vries, 2022), putting forward the values on which it is premised through the establishment of designated institutions and infrastructure, and disseminating funds to bolster the array of actions that stabilise and promote its moral foundation. The situation of culture at the core of European interests and investment in innovation, which in the context of culture necessarily means strategies of engagement and participation. The participatory turn in European cultural policies is strongly linked to strengthening Europe’s democratic merit and passion (Dupin-Meynard & Négrier, 2020, p. 12). An answer to why should Europe support Socially Engaged Art begins to unfold.
To John Mearsheimer, a political scientist and international relations scholar, the EU has been constructing its normative power – particularly its democratic merit – to a state of “conventional wisdom”, a “benign hegemony” (2015). In his lecture at the University of Chicago ‘Why is Ukraine the West’s Fault?’, delivered in 2015 but found shockingly relevant to present events, he explains the rigorous expansion of the West toward East through three main missions: EU enlargement, NATO enlargement, and the promotion of democracy. I am mentioning this not because of wishing to recall the history of the Cold War, but more so for underscoring the significance of Mearsheimer’s realist approach to international relations theory, which sees conflict and pursuit of resources and power as immanent to world politics. This being so, if we are able for a mere second, to disengage ourselves from our ideological and political identifications, and view democracy, on the level of ideational influence, we can see that democracy is a threat to other communities. The fact that the democratisation of post-Soviet countries joining the EU necessarily meant the embrace of the capitalist market in these countries, highlights the entanglement of democracy and capitalism; and reminds us also what Europe (primarily) is – an economic institution and Market Power (Damro, 2015).
Market Power Europe – put succinctly – is a conceptual framework that shows how Europe, through externalising its internal social and economic policies, influences the international system and exercises power. As I am now researching methods of work and the organisation of performance groups in several European countries, I am interested in finding out how they correspond/correlate /deviate from what Europe is trying to stabilise in the sectors of cultural economy, policy, and employment. More of this in the following blog.
*Thank you so much for your reading! I would like to take the opportunity and express my worry about, care for, and solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Damro, C., 2015. ‘Market Power Europe: Exploring a dynamic conceptual framework’. Journal of European Public Policy , 22(9), pp. 1336-1354.
Damro, C. & Friedman, Y., 2018. ‘Market Power Europe and the Externalization of Higher Education’. Journal of Common Market Studies, 56(6), pp. 1394-1410.
De Vries, G., 2022. Europe must reimagine its cultural policies. [Online] Available at: https://socialeurope.eu/europe-must-reimagine-its-cultural-policies
Duchene, F., 1972. ‘Europe’s role in world peace’, in, Europe Tomorrow. London: Fontana.
Dupin-Meynard, F. & Négrier, E., 2020. Cultural policies in Europe: A participatory turn?. Toulouse: Éditions de l’Attribut.
European Parliament, 2007. The treaty of Lisbon. [Online] Available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/ftu/pdf/en/FTU_1.1.5.pdf [Accessed Feb 2022].
Manners, I., 2002. ‘Normative Power Europe: A contradiction in Terms?’. JCMS, 40(2), pp. 235-258.
Mearsheimer, J. J., 2015. UnCommon Core: The Causes and Consequences of the Ukraine Crisis, Chicago: University of Chicago.
Solana, J., 2007. ‘Where we stand: from building peace in Europe to being a peace-builder in the world – Taking stock of the union’s foreign and security policy’. EU security and defence, pp. 266-270.
The Nobel Prize, 2012. The Nobel Peace Prize 2012. [Online] Available at: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2012/summary/ [Accessed Feb 2022].