Spectres of Europe: Europe's Past, Present, and Future

Luiza Bialasiewicz

in The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560981
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191749490 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Spectres of Europe: Europe's Past, Present, and Future

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  • European History
  • Contemporary History (Post 1945)


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Since the late eighteenth century, the division of Europe into ‘East’ and ‘West’ bespoke not only a particular geography but also a particular temporal divide. Over the past two decades, a number of leading European thinkers have attempted to trace the ‘geo-philosophy’ of the European idea focusing on the idea of Europe as a civitas futura. This article discusses changing understandings of Europe in (and through) time, focusing on how different understandings of Europe's relation to its past, present, and future have been reflected in radically different visions for European geopolitics. After considering the myth of the Habsburg Empire, it looks at Europe after the Iraq war. The article then argues that contemporary visions of Europe's role in the world (in particular, the geographical imaginations of Europe's presumed ‘spaces of responsibility’) are inescapably bound up with certain historical shadows, but also rely in great part on distinct ‘spectres’ of a future to come.

Keywords: Europe; geo-philosophy; geopolitics; past; present; future; Iraq; war; Habsburg Empire; spaces of responsibility

Article.  10813 words. 

Subjects: European History ; Contemporary History (Post 1945)

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