Memory and the future of Europe

Rupture and integration in the wake of total war

By Peter J. Verovsek

Memory and the future of Europe


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4310-5
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: May 2020
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / EU & European institutions, Economics, European Politics, Political science & theory, PHILOSOPHY / Political, HISTORY / Europe / General, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory, POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / European, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, Humanities / Social & political philosophy, Humanities / European history
  • Series: Manchester University Press


Memory and the future of Europe examines the role of collective memory in the origins and development of the European Union. It traces Europe's political, economic and financial crisis to the loss of the remembrance of the rupture of 1945. As the generations with personal memories of the two world wars pass away, economic welfare has become the EU's sole raison d'être. If it is to survive its future challenges, the EU will have to create a new historical imaginary that relies not only on the lessons of the past but also builds on Europe's ability to protect its citizens against the power of global market forces. Framing its argument through the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, this volume will attract readers interested in political and social philosophy, collective memory studies, European studies, international relations and contemporary politics.


'For everyone who wants to understand how, in the last century, collective war memories shaped the EU we live in today and how, through generational dynamics, this "utopian vision" of Europe, which was turned into concrete politics and institutions, was eroded over time, this book is a must read.'
Ulrike Guérot, Professor of European Politics and the Study of Democracy at Danube University Krems and Founder of the European Democracy Lab

'Could remembrances of the 2008 Great Recession and the Eurozone crisis play the same foundational role in European Union politics as memories of World War II did some seventy years ago? Peter J. Verovsek answers this thought-provoking question by drawing from critical theory in his timely and well-researched Memory and the future of Europe. A must-read for students of the European Union politics of memory, but also for critical theorists of international relations and all readers concerned by the role of memory in European populisms and their alternatives.'
Catherine Guisan, author of A Political Theory of Identity in European Integration and Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota

'A very timely reminder of the importance of shared memory to founding and upholding a political community. Peter Verovsek rightly argues that as Second World War memories fade - and as the experience with Stalinism in newer member states challenges the narrative of the Holocaust as its foundational rock - the European Union must reconstruct a shared historical imaginary. Drawing on Walter Benjamin's and Hannah Arendt's concepts of rupture and new beginning, he encourages us to discern openings towards a common future in the crises of the present.'
Luuk van Middelaar, Professor of Foundations and Practice of the European Union and its Institutions, Leiden University

'The collective memory of Europe's twentieth-century wars played a central role in the construction of the European Union; its erosion endangers the European project today. Using the theoretical lens of the Frankfurt School's 'critical theory' approach and primary sources focused on first-person accounts by European leaders, Peter Verovsek's ground-breaking book sheds bright light not only on the collective memory of the past but also on the consequences of its loss on the EU's present, as he diagnoses the pathologies of today and suggests possible pathways forward.'
Vivien A. Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration, Boston University


1 Collective memory as a resource for political change

Part I Origins and crisis diagnosis
2 Choosing integration based on the community model: memory, leadership, and the first phase of integration (1945-58)
3 Counter-memory and generational change: Eurosclerosis (1959-84) and the second phase of integration (1985-2003)
4 The fragmentation and loss of European memory: the Eurozone crisis, Brexit, and possible disintegration

Part II Memory and the future of Europe
5 Changing generations, negative memory, and non-economic resources
6 The future of Europe from a comparative perspective
Concluding remarks: a plea for politics at the European level

Select bibliography


Peter J. Verovsek is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Politics and International Relations at the University of Sheffield

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