European values & identities

Concepts like European identity/ies and European culture/s are difficult to define. Some say they don’t exist. Some say they only make sense in its plurality and that the European culture is based on freedom to express our differences. Others say that layers of history and cultural traditions and exchanges have given us a shared understanding of what it means to be European. If past encounters among Europeans have enabled us to construct the Europe we have today, what is the future of EU culture in times of European and global mobility?

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    • Regarding your introduction- you mention Greco-Roman culture and civilisation and the Renaissance. The EPP manifesto says (see in the reading corner): " 

      "While Europe is diverse and nuanced, we have one thing in common: in every town and city there is a Christian church. Christmas, Easter and Pentecost are holidays we all share. We have to pro- tect our European way of life by preserving our Christian values and fundamental principles."

      Did you examine this in your phd? 

    • Thank you for your question. I examined the meaning of public space network of four cities (Athens, Glasgow, Lisbon and Thessaloniki) - ECoCs, that is their syntactic spatial identity by relating it with public buildings, including religious ones. I found that, even subconsciously, the religious buildings play a major role in the European cities' identity. This is even true  in the cases where there is a major re-design of whole urban areas - districts. I hope that this satisfies your question.


    • Dear Anastasia,

      Thank you for your interesting reflection on public space and religious buildings. Indeed, all across Europe, religious buildings of all denominations are an intrinsic part of our cultural heritage and identity. They have historically occupied a central position in urban planning, and currently, many people and organisations are working to keep them at the centre of the community, tackling issues such as maintenance, restoration, management and reuse.

      Perhaps our network might be of interest to you:

      Future for Religious Heritage (FRH) - the European network for historic places of worship - is the only European network of charities, governmental,…
    • Dear FRH, thank you for your feed-back to my contribution. Indeed, religious buidings are major landmarks in EU cities and villages. They form the core-tradition of the European history, along with municipal, commercial and educational buildings. Indeed, there are cities, where all these buildings around form the major square of a EU city, condensing, thus, its cultural identity through history. 

      I saw your webpage and subscribed to it. I would like to inform you that I dispose a strong portfolio with work of architectural synthesis, restoration and reuse of religious buildings. Also, their role in their broader urban environment (urban design issues). I studied and published a whole monastery of the 3rd century a. D. (Saint Ioannis Prodromos - Skiti Veroias - Greece). If I could be of some assistance, I would be glad to.


    • Thanks Gyongver for your input and the reference to the EPP manifesto talking of Christian churches. This is a complex topic that has been studied also recently by researcher Olivier Roy in his last book entitled 'Is Europe christian?' (L'Europe est-elle chrétienne?).

      One of the questions arising from Roy's book is: what is the meaning of a Christian church in today's European societies? Is it a strong element of religiosity (i.e. a relationship with a being of a transcendent/divine/sacred nature) or mostly a the secular cultural symbol of an old tradition (which has lost its religious/belief dimension) ?

      Roy's thesis is that European societies have become mostly secular and that the space left to religion (as a practice of belief and a relationship with the divine) has been shrinking.

      Any views on this from our chat room participants?

    • Here we have a key problem. What is a church for us BUT what is for muslims (mayority of migrants in Europe) ?

      Muslims have a strong identity as group based on that the group defines individual, contrary to Europe (Europe is a groups of individuals rights) and that give us two questions:

      They see church as a group identity meanwhile we see them as an individual right to personal beliefs.

      Perception is so different that we should confront that a key factor.

      How should we create the new Europe with our individual rights principles in contrast of our general ideas of european democracy with a  growing number of Europeans arrived from other countries, with the opposite perception of what an individual is and their rights are ?

    • Hi Inigo, thanks for jumping in. 

      I find your final question very important. It connects with other conversation threads in this chat room dealing with interculturality / interculturalism and the ability to manage cultural differences. 

      It would be interesting to have more precise information on some of the assertions you make: Are Muslims the majority of migrants in Europe? Which type of migrants are your thinking of? (Migrants is a word encompassing many migratory situations)


      "Muslims have a strong identity as group based on that the group defines individual" - Which Muslims are you referring too? There is a lot of diversity in the muslim world. 

      "They see church as a group identity meanwhile we see them as an individual right to personal beliefs."

      Who is 'they' ? Who is 'we'?






    • Hi Anastasia, thanks for your (long and rich) post! Several avenues for debate and dialogue in this chatroom, that I could try to rephrase in several questions:

      1) Are we happy with our Lingua Franca?


      2) How to balance the EU way to manage diversity with the need for more leadership (as underlined earlier by Luca Jahier in our spoltight session?

      3) Are Europeans equipped and skilled enough to deal with cultural differences and interculturality / interculturalism?

      4) Are migration dynamics transforming the way we look at European identities and social integration processes?


    • Damien, Thank you for your prompt answer! 

      1. Lingua franca is a necessity, if we want to communicate our ideas. Furthermore, by ligua franca I mean all the rich and common background we share as Europeans: Customs, beliefs, human nad social values and many more. Even architecture, town planning and urban design have some strong references to Europe, a common tradition that spread all around european countries. For example, neoclassicism, referring to the architecture of ancient Greece, was elaborated during the Renaissance in Western Europe to be adopted finally by the newly-born Greek state in the middle of the 19th century. Now it is considered to be a pan-European architectural style, a lingua franca in European architecture. In all aspects of cultural activity we have to build a lingua franca, if we want our creativity to have some European reference.  

      2. I didn't find Luca's comment on diversity and leadership, but I would say that leadership in culture, as far as member-states are concerned, is more a matter of excellence and production of concrete results, than claiming for it. 

      3. This is exactly what EU has to work out. Is the institution of 'Cultural Capital of Europe' enough? No, absolutely no, although it is extremely successful. EU has to invent more institutions that bring Europeans closer among themselves and facilitate them to create something together: all scientific, cultural and creative aspects of human activity can be incorporated here. In order to achieve it, EU has to invite the proper people, everybody successful in his / her own field, in order to offer their knowledge and expertise. EU offices are too far from talented and educated in cultural issues Europeans. Contact points in each country are un-familiar and not supporting as well. EU has to build from the very beginning its cultural policies and the mode of reaching European peoples. We are very equiped and very skilled, but EU has not found yet the proper manner to reach us, or us to reach it!

      4. Migration dynamics threaten the way we see Europe and its future. Here in Greece the native Greeks have a first salary of about 700 Euros and they have to pay everything out of it, from electricity to water to..... Every immigrant entering Greece is paid with 400 EU. A family with two children is paid with 1.600 EUs plus all the expenditure (electricity, water, etc.), plus their their home (free of charge), also cleaned by cleaners every two weeks! They do  not have to work. They have just to sit and be paid. Of course, they do not want to be integrated to the GReek society, or abandon anything from their previous cultural life. It is a very serious issue, open up to now and who knows for how many years ahead, with some GR islands suffering a lot! Some kind of control has to be put, because otherwise there will be some sort of social upheaval!. 

      Again, EU needs to come closer to us as Europeans. If you could suggest me any EU office, dealing with proposals for new institutions in the field of culture, I'd appreciate it very much. 

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