Europe and the Concept of Multiple Identities

Member of the Academy of Europe


An Idea of the Avant-garde of the Future[1]


Many historians believe European identity should be claimed from myths and symbols, memories and traditions. Actually, this approach speaks about the national, and not European, idea. When debating the concept of Europe, historians must not pretend symbolisms are similar to those promoted during the years of establishing the nation state. The issue is how we imagine and generate a new identity, that is, the European identity. It is true that we cannot draw upon founding myths similar to Bastille Day and neither on ceremonies for European shrines dedicated to kings and saints, as some pretend (see Anthony Smith, ‘National identity and the idea of European unity’, in International Affairs, 1992, 68, 1, p.73). Talking about Europe, but also about the structure called the European Union, means looking towards the future and encouraging speculative thinking; and this, because we should take into consideration a new statehood. Modernisation, which signifies economic and technological dynamics, is not the equivalent of modernity. Modernisation is ubiquitous around the world, while modernity sends to reflection and self-reflection and is endogenous to Europe (Sverker Sörlin, ‘Signalement av Europa …’ 1990, apud The History of the Idea of Europe’, Contributors Pim den Boer, Peter Bugge, Ole Woever, Edited by Kevin Wilson & Jan van der Dussen, Routledge, London & New York, 1993, p. 205). It is true that the idea of Europe and European identity includes many uncertainties, but they don’t hinder from formulating our own interrogations and answers. The meaning of the concept of Europe derives from history and the cultural diversity existing on the continent, historical references becoming beneficial for dialogues and hypotheses regarding the future.


Is the history of Europe the sum of its particular histories? Is there an antagonistic contradiction between the pacifist, cosmopolitan ideal of the Enlightenment and the national, separatist and romantic mythos? What is the interest of the national idea within contemporary European society? Have the consequences of twentieth century tragedies been surpassed? Is multiculturalism a policy of acceptance? How does the multi-linguistic and trans-cultural dialogue contribute to the definition of ‘European’? What does the undertaking of cultural ambivalences signify? Does Europe have a multiple identity? If so, what meaning does the concept of multiple identities carry? Is it necessary to reshape the concept of nation in the context in which the political ambition proclaims the unity of Europe?[2] Starting with these questions, I will try to formulate several working hypotheses for an identity theory of Europe – without discarding the perspectives of East-West relations.


The Fake European-National Dichotomy:

Regarding Europe’s Multi- and Trans-culturalism

In a study concerning trans-culturalism[3], Harvey Siegel reveals the reasons that drove the partisans of multi-cultural theory to adopt a sole manner of legitimacy, according to which the philosophical ideals and education would be necessarily specific. More exactly, legitimating the ideals and their strength is not possible beyond the frontiers of the culture in which they are practiced[4]. From the perspective of multi-cultural pedagogy, we would be forced to acquire a multi-cultural existence and, according to the context of our existence, to treat other cultures as our own, and its members with full and legitimate respect. The morality of this behaviour would be praised. Siegel observes that this is the ‘coherence of multicultural incentive’.

According to advocates of the multicultural thesis, we should consider the requests for acknowledging the abolishment of cultural domination, as this grants proper consideration to each culture. The remark of the mono-cultural nationalist is the following: it could be that domination and marginalisation are wrong from the perspective of the other’s culture, but they are good from the point of view of majority’s culture[5]. Harvey Siegel asks himself more questions and suggests some work hypotheses. First, it regards the reformulation of multiculturalism requests as a necessary step. Secondly, he perceives a certain context is needed in order to reject mono-culturalism. Finally, the promotion of trans-cultural declaration becomes very important as soon as the acceptance of ideals that transcend a certain culture are taken into account[6]. Harvey Siegel invokes, among others, the bright example of the trans-cultural character of certain laws, a situation when the validity of the arguments dictates their acknowledgement and approval by two or more communities[7].

In opposition to this awareness, Richard Rorty believes that pragmatics can and must favour their own group. According to Rorty, ethno-centrism would be the one referring to our solidarity. His position raised speculations asserting that specificity would be (solely) necessary for defining the fundamental concepts regarding cultural values. Universality would be nothing more than the projection or imposition of local values, while Europeanism would be the victory of the one against the multiple or, the success of national against super-national. Accordingly, we should admit that values cannot be universal or European, but only local. In our case, homo Europaeus would be more the sum of local, respectively national, features; not at all an open culture, capable of representing itself as both a unitary and a multiple symbol at the same time. Are national peculiarities dominating the old and new history of Europe? If so, what is the value of European aspirations? Are the group, community and nation determinant social structures, in whose absence nobody can talk about European community and the shared European future? Is the economic concern sufficient for assuming the idea of continental unity? There are voices that assert ‘the need of much social grace, much psychological finesse and … a great metaphysical subtlety’ in order to accept both difference and sameness, respectively to agree that ‘the difference that separates us is second to the humanity that unites’[8]. This manner of restraints regarding the continental unity can be expressed in many elegant forms. There are situations in which the idea of Europe becomes a good example for motivating the perpetuation of ethno-national values or for the mimicry of the East-West dialogue. Each state includes personalities of different intellectual groups that protect such a belief, their Euro-scepticism being contagious for other intellectual groups that didn’t pose the necessary understanding of an old and likewise new issue. In any case, similar perspectives underline differences, rather than interferences and similitudes; they ignore the fact that most so-called differences are artificial creations of the century of nationalities and nations. Settled into their own linguistic and traditional family, the aforementioned intellectuals seem to disagree with the values resulting from religious, civic, ethnographic ideas that offer vital substance to Europe.

The issue of alterity deserves careful examination, especially since the manner of understanding and identifying it within our own intellectual baggage will shape the European political thought. The effort of projection through alterity allows the chance to discover the other, meaning our moral angle. Avoiding discrimination through the acknowledgement of the other is correspondent to the aspiration according to which our histories and culture converge to a singular collective. This singular collective is essential for the acknowledgement and assumption of the whole. I see no reason to reject ‘the psychological finesse’ or ‘the metaphysical subtlety’, if they can help me attain an acceptable degree of expressivity, mutual acknowledgement and identification to a multiple one. We are also talking about social respect, a feeling of trust towards myself and the other that enables each of us to simultaneously (and not in turn) sit in both positions, minority and majority, East and West, English (French, Italian, German, Romanian) and European.

Once these associations are revealed, the tendency of identity redefinition will become not only a cultural novelty, but also a social pedagogy. Let us consider Siegel’s arguments formulated in his dispute with Rorty[9]. First, the universal-local dichotomy, similar to European-national dichotomy, remains problematic, because in the process of laying the ideals, the Universalist or the European is free to identify or overlook the peculiarities. The principles, values and ideals must not be conceived solely in relation to local idiosyncrasies. Siegel believes that the conjured dichotomy is fabricated because the universality (Europeanity) cannot be rejected on the basis of local ideals. Finally, one cannot ignore the legitimacy of trans-culturalism, especially when interrogations send to a purpose of knowledge[10]. According to Siegel, trans-cultural ideals are possible. Regarding multi-culturalism, it is fully compatible to the recognition of transcendent philosophical and educational ideals.

Examining the European cultural diversity, Leo Frobenius is conquered by the complementarity of values. The acceptance of multiple European identities depends on the understanding of the set of values born from shared thinking. ‘The European Orient and Occident cannot be understood solely through one of the two primary phenomena, each of them inseparable from the terrestrial space of birth, but also sterile, as long as the other didn’t spill the mechanist paideuma that reached the stage of ripe seed’[11]. Even within cultures that deny the obvious, the European ideals are present. The spiritual life and intellectual aspiration validates it. They prove absolute similarities regarding guiding principles, granting Europe a specific status in relation to other continents.

Seen through the standpoint of interpersonal and inter-group relations, European societies nowadays can be defined as having multiple origins, and thus, are marked by a diversity of values. The transition from one culture to another is relatively easy and depends on the ability of communication. The meetings, mutual influences and community of values are all impressive. The symbolic burden of religions reveals the similarity of the ideal of life. The credo and social, judicial and pedagogical norms of the Enlightenment promoted the first sensus communis in modern Europe, which is desirable to take into account when discussing the idea of unity and European Union. Beyond the aggressiveness of languages and radicalism of emancipation movements, the fragmentation that resulted from policies of the nineteenth century has its positive facets. Our attention for multi-lingualism and homo europeanus’s management of multiple historic legacies derive from that; only that the meaning in which we value diversity is preferably attached to the cosmopolitan concept and not the national one.

The multi-lingualism was not only the foundation of nationalizing Europe, but also the intellectual instrument that facilitated the meeting, confrontation and amalgamation of human values across the continent. It survived through the cross-border regions, those which confronted the nationalisms and ethnic cleansing after the First World War, resisted (as much as they could) the dislocation of populations and opposed the political and cultural division of citizens on criteria of majority and minority. There are regions in Central Europe where switching languages and cultures is a lifestyle, a true melting pot. There are areas in which the adoption of two or three languages and cultures at the same time was and continues to be a reality. We are talking about border regions, border and cross-border cultures. Rejected or condemned to silence by national states and used as motivation for civil and inter-state wars during the twentieth century, this world is a possible model for understanding the multiple identity of tomorrow’s Europe. For example, the former Habsburg Empire and Austro-Hungarian Monarchy stand out today through the multitude of ambivalences[12], through the heterogeneity of urban populations and trans-cultural ideals. When not ignored or condemned, their merits were minimized by ethno-nationalism[13]. Today, it is very important to know how to acknowledge and manage the past legacies, capitalizing the credible or fecund elements of plural cohabitation. The cultural-demographic renewal of median Europe that occurred during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries under the auspices of the Habsburg House is just one example[14].

The plural origins of populations within the states of modern Europe should become the theme of a large historical and cultural-philosophical reflection. In his seminal book, Gerard Noiriel insisted upon the French amalgam created by the large number of immigrants. Through paternal or maternal parentage, about 20 percent of the French population (10-12 million inhabitants) have a cultural origin different from French, which expresses a new national identity. Not only today, but throughout modern age, the French people has been one of the most mixed European populations[15]. It is not definable on ethnographic or national criteria, in the sense promoted by German culture; hence the possibility of discovering and acceptance by the French state of diversity, of amalgamation of cultural-religious values and multiple identities[16]. On a smaller scale and less spectacular fashion than in France, the situation evolves similarly in states such as Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and more recently in Germany, Italy and Spain. Generally, the West has moved to the substantial renewal of population, a fact that is also possible in the states of Central and Eastern Europe. The transfer of populations is an element of renewal, of Europeanisation, respectively. In these conditions, the notions of multi-culturalism and multi-confessionalism presume not only the acknowledgement of differences, but also the cultivation and acceptance of interferences. The conservation of cultural-historical peculiarities related to certain groups will continue to impress upon the future generations, without declining cohabitation with alterities.   


The Issues of the Other (Eastern) Europe

Scientific and cultural institutions from the former communist Europe praise the theory of Volksgeist, directing the state identity according to the ethnic group of the majority. It is reminiscent of totalitarian thought that causes great pressure for individual association to a certain group. The majority-minority binomial is an almost mandatory cultural reference in the mentioned states. Intensively exploited between 1980 and 1990 in Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia by Nicolae Ceaușescu, Todor Zhivkov and Slobodan Milosevic, respectively, it has a visible continuity in the organisation and functioning of administrative, political and cultural-state institutions, in the direction of many representatives of political parties. Similar to Greece, the issuing of identity documents by the services of the Ministry of Interior presumes the obligation to express the belonging of citizenship, religion and nationality. The issue derives from the fact that declaring the allegiance to a minority transforms into a handicap of social, professional and civic recognition. This happens mostly in the situation in which the minority is numerically insignificant or marginalized for cultural-linguistic, religious or race reasons. Under such conditions, having ascendants coming from different religious and/or ethnographic groups represents a totally incomprehensible issue for the administration. Used to simplifying gestures and recordings, it discards the right of declaring-recording cultural ambivalences. In this context, the recognition is formal, while the nationalist-populist demagogy can prosper without hindrances.

This manner of policy is connected to the cultural stereotype practiced in the educational system. Despite the Yugoslavian catastrophe, the cultural separatism based on ethno-racial and religious origins continued to be the most important act of legitimacy within the neighbouring states of South-East Europe[17]. The persistence of ethnicity – Milosevic used it, knowing that under the appearance of a federal idea, the radical idea of ethnic identity is preserved – shows how strongly romantic ideas were impregnated, how far the neo-tribal ideology can reach[18]. What was not sufficiently understood within the aforementioned areal is that in reality the cultures never wear a strait jacket to separate from one another, while the spiritual life of the people is not identifiable through a sole tradition. The enforcement of terms – culture has always been an annex of the political discourse in the mentioned space – caused extreme languages and ideologies[19], massive emigrations and demographic imbalances. However, in countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, where things did not take a radical turn, the economic crisis could explain the acceptance of foreign workers, coming from Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, but also from Asia and Africa. Such a change could produce in time the expected renewal of mentality[20].

The limits of multicultural theory can be surpassed by embracing the thesis according to which all cultures must accept the legitimacy of the others. Following similar logic, we will admit that our own values could become welcomed by others – that is, meaning, transcultural. Even if it is not always possible to detach from a local culture and integrate in another, this does not mean that values and ideals are relevant only in the case of their practice in a specific historic community. Can mono-lingualism be a necessary form of preserving identity, while multi-lingualism contributes to the loss of tradition? Are there European places, regions, states and nations definable only through the perspective of belonging to a single cultural-community, religious or ethnographic form? Can they recognize themselves in just one perspective? The multi-culturalism seen through the lens of various manners of separatisms (racial, ethno-cultural, religious and linguistic) lacks relevance[21]. In attempting to formulate an alternative to current policy, the role of East-Central intelligentsia could be significant, on the condition of emancipation from partisan discourse. The pretended ideal form of expression and existence in minorities cannot be created in the absence of bi- and trans-cultural dialogue. Many challenges of today’s world, in a continuous process of rapid change, often depend on the interrogations and/or aspirations of minority people and groups[22].


Kulturnation-Volknation vs. Europe

The border lines among European nations and cultures are artificial. The birth of the nation-states after the First World War often turned the discriminated minorities into discriminating majorities. The new centres of decision did not take into account the plural legacies, the richness of cultures and the importance of regions that shared more languages. The nation-state and the one-party political system it generated favoured the members of the ethnic majority, arbitrarily imposing their supremacy in all domains. This process was favoured by territorial divisions dictated by the great powers, by the transfer of political-administrative centres and by the imposition of uniform educational programs to the detriment of any diversity. It was the moment when Europe became the place with the fiercest ethnic, racial, national and geographical disputes[23].

During the Inter-War period, the experience of the French crucible was not replicated in Germany. In place of integration and assimilation, Germany promoted the culture of difference, marginalisation and exclusion. As for Poland, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, they are symptomatic for the social disruptions that occurred in the twentieth century – with an important peculiarity: the ethno-differentialist model was instituted when the civicism of the population was still inchoate. If in the German example, there was a plural society of burgs (that was reinstituted after the Second World War) the East European world erased such models. Instead of modernisation and urbanisation, dislocation of urban populations took place. The only seemingly useful aspect was the imposition of so-called ethnographic “specificity” of majority despite the diversity. The old urban, regional, group and personal identities lost their own history and habitat. For the most part, the intelligentsia of the new nation-states were first-rank contributors to this process, collaborating with centralist administrations and amending languages, ideas and virtual circles that cultivated socio-political pluralism[24].

Their confusion has medium- and long-term consequences: the artificial transplant of rural behavioural cultures to urban environments transformed towns into provincial places without generating a culture of social relations. In conclusion, the process of state-national establishment of Eastern Europe is connected to an enterprise stating that a Völkischekultur must become a Volknation or Kulturnation[25]. The concept of Volk or ethnicity – affiliated with the German culture of Sturm und Drang – speaks of the structure of an identity that disregards the development of civic spirit or the ethics of inter-human relations. Fundamental traits such as individuality, sensitivity, dignity and responsibility – meaning all those elements that generated a minima moralia in Western Europe – are difficult to identify today in most societies of the former communist states. Therefore, there is no similarity to France, no comparison to the ‘mystery of the graft’ understood as association of immigrant groups testifying for the pluralist origins of French culture.

Among the states of East and South-East Europe, the degree of social destruction can be noticed both under fascism[26] and communism[27] – with the necessary nuances or differences. This aspect was overlooked by researchers who tackled the theme of European integration. In the conditions in which the social phenomena has been and still remains insufficiently studied and understood, the ethnic assimilation and/or differentiation inspire the main identity doctrine; hence, the ignorance of school and family as part of the plural construction has defined European cultural geography for centuries. During the twentieth century, the state-national administration built on ethnic criteria operated with the terminology of cultural differentialism, supporting irrational projects in the field of multiple identity cohabitation: ethnic cleansing, population exchanges, marginalisation and forced exclusions. The only accepted alternative was assimilation under prescribed circumstances, by changing religion, native language and name. Otherwise, marginalisation and exclusion occurred. In this sense, fascism and Romanian communism shared many elements.

When discussing certification of the individual in the sense of acknowledging his allegiance to a collective, the consanguineous criterion was applied in spite of any opposing evidence. The degeneration of relations between two or more groups self-defined as ethno-national within nation-states was possible through the promotion of the mono-cultural ideals of majority promoted through books, magazines, newspapers, television and radio, and school curricula. Among those, the concern for confessional diversity, community pluralism, borrowings, ‘grafts’, amalgamated values and cultural ambivalences were often missing – as is still the case today – meaning, the concern for integration, for Europe as a whole. The partisan discourse, in the sense of propaganda, undermined the authentic cultural act. Around the imagined specific collective ego, the monoculture necessary for the dominant socio-political segment was built, which stimulated the ‘skipping of stages’ in a moment when the rooting process had to be the absolute priority.


Homo Europaeus and the Concept of Multiple Identity

Is the concept of multiple identity the consequence of two or more cultures melding? Is multiple identity a challenge for political philosophy? Studying the history of more national cultures, we understand that European ideals can be better defined through their confluences. From this perspective, the border regions are exemplary. Situated between states with distinct linguistic identities, they stood out – sometimes even today – through bi-lingualism or tri-lingualism. Living among two religions and two nations, their inhabitants learned the art of compromise. The relativity of their identity discourse is indebted to local multi-culturalism, but mostly to the mixture of people and values. European geography and demography contain many such examples. Thanks to them, one can observe that European identity sends firstly to mixed traditions, that is, beyond native language, local geography or group history. Such a shift of perspective is innovative and could contribute to the redefinition of the European. The theory that similarities are the constant feature of continental culture will overcome the long-professed ideology of ethnic, national and state-national separation, which decisively contributed to the instauration of totalitarian regimes, triggering the great tragedies of the ‘century of extremes’. Not knowing or omitting the facts and ideologies that generated them is similar to not researching or understanding the peculiarities of recent European history.

Unlike mono-culturalism, on one hand, and multi-culturalism, on the other, the concept of multiple identity has a positive charge, especially from the perspective of integrating the diversity of European national communities. The confluence of communities has contributed to the establishment of plural civic societies unable to be filtered on criteria based on specificity, ethnicity, racial allegiance and uniqueness. Europe often confronts itself with a melting pot, inside which the fusion of horizons occurs naturally[28]. Excepting the national states with multiple cultural roots, there are many regional communities that self-define in this manner. The concept of multiple identity is in full correspondence with the community-human realities, being able to contribute to the identification of a homo Europaeus of the future. The avant-garde of the European future is made of individuals, families, communities and mixed nations from cultural and religious perspectives. Europe can be perceived – with much benefit for the project of its unification – through the type of multiple allegiances. The acknowledgement of personal identity in accord to region is part of the same political philosophy as acknowledging the linguistic and religious rights of communities.

What is worth remembering as being fundamental to the concept of multiple identity? Firstly, the possibility of each person to become a participant in public activities with no ethnic, racial, religious or linguistic limitations. Secondly, the freedom to choose a living environment. In such a case, association to one, two or three linguistic, cultural or religious groups, simultaneously or in succession (the human nature allows it without losing moral values) is an aspect worthy of consideration. Although forced to identify to a single model, usually the central or majority one, cross-border societies do not ignore their own data. Hence, the necessity of a more nuanced understanding of multi- and inter-culturalism[29]. Regional identity regards human existence based on a tacit accord of shared values. A concept of multiple identity is easier to admit as soon as we operate through the understanding of regional cultural forms. Certain references can be clarifying, as mentioned in the following paragraph.

Within the French-German world of Alsace, the concomitant use of French, German and Alsatian illustrates a multi-cultural reality not in the sense of differences, but of diversity and convergences. The simultaneous adoption of two cultures is not only possible but useful. The historical controversy upon Alsace was created by the nation-state through its occupation and assimilation to one or the other cultures or policies of the neighbouring countries, France and Germany. A similar situation is perceived in the cases of Polish-German, Czech-German, Slovak-Hungarian, Albanian-Serbian, Bulgarian-Turkish and Hungarian-Romanian controversies. The discrediting of natural relations and growth of conflictual situations at the regional scale started from the interests of those who had claimed the territory, not from the internal-community reality. Attempts against the traditional cohabitation from Tirol, Dalmatian Adriatic, Czech Sudeten, Italian-Slovenian Gorizia and Austrian-Slovenian Klagenfurt draw attention to the fundamental role of the critical-rational interpretation of history, European traditions and culture. Searching for the truth, we must agree that Belgian, Dutch or Swiss identities are all part of a multiple socio-cultural evolution or the result of living in a cross-border Europe. Along the same lines, communities of the mid-Danube and Carpathian basin have unmistakable directions. Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Transylvania, Rumelia, Vojvodina and Banat are East-Central and South-East European regions in which the definition of identity based on the concept of ethnicity generated lingering territorial disputes. Instead of knowing multiple and convergent social realities favouring European integration, the policies of modern ethno-national states enforced the differentialist ideology[30]. The numerical ground they appeal to through historical and sociological statistics, along with ethnographic theses, encouraged the partisanship – an extra reason not to judge through the lens of the mentioned research.

What is not sufficiently contained (school education is responsible for this ignorance) is that, like individuals, the groups have shared interests, exchange values, social and economic experiences. And, more importantly, they cohabitate to the level of mixing marriages, religious faiths and traditions. Social environments inheriting such ambivalences had always been kept under surveillance by the national centralist administrations; they were treated as unsafe or disloyal to the majority. In reality, the societies with plural/multiple cultural and religious origins accentuated the set of family and civic values in a more consistent manner than the ethnographic communities disputing their territorial primacy on the nobleness of blood. Tocqueville’s concept of township, with regard to the American areal, played his role in the European social, cultural and judicial coagulation and modernisation. Where convergences were assumed and made possible the rejection of separatist ideologies in favour of community-civic integration, the bürgerlichegeselschaft, ‘civic society’ or comunita del popolo, was born; the ‘horizons fused’. We need to multiply such pedagogy for sketching the personality of the contemporary homo Europaeus[31].

Trans-culturalism presumes the right of developing trans-urban, trans-regional and trans-national relations. The concept shows that in any integrative concept we must deal with a correlation among educational and philosophical ideals. The concept of multiple identity particularizes in connection to multi-culturalism and trans-culturalism by focusing on the negation of the theory of absolute values, underlining that nothing enables us to operate hierarchically and exclusively through the mediation of preferred identity terms. If by trans-culturalism Siegel reveals ‘ideals that transcend individual cultures’, then, by multiple identity, I talk about the similitudes of human values, their common origins, the acceptance of pluralism by the assertion of allegiance to more cultures simultaneously. In other words, I argue the relativity of any ideal, hence the pre-supposition according to which we need comparative perspective upon the evolution of values that contributed to the formation of individual personality, a perspective that could steer society. The concept of multiple identity stimulates the emergence from the area of prejudices that still impregnate the political thought.



The hypotheses formulated here need some explanations to highlight the theoretical and practical importance of the theme. European identity flows from trans-culturalism and multiple identity. This means that the adept of a culture must agree to embrace both his own values and those belonging to different environments. Trans-culturalism and inter-culturalism can contribute to the fusion of seemingly distinct horizons by having the ability to represent a stand for professing multi-cultural pedagogy. The aforementioned concepts favour horizontal communication, as well as the genesis of personal, community-civic, regional and multiple identities that can aid a future European federation. They also enable us to understand that homo Europaeus is about unity of destiny, one which assumes various cultural-linguistic and religious roots. Therefore, the national-European dichotomy – similar to the local-universal dichotomy – has no place here as soon as the very spiritual human existence proves that assimilated ideals and values transcend any kind of peculiarities, meaning they are trans-cultural par excellence. In our case, European.


[1]The article is based on previous research regarding the European intellectual history, the continuity and discontinuity of European idea during the premodern and modern times. See Victor Neumann, The Temptation of Homo Europaeus: An Intellectual History of Central and Southeastern Europe, Translated by Dana Miu and Neil Titman, Edited, revised and updated, Scala Arts Publishers, London, 2020, 320 p.; Idem, Neam, Popor sau Națiune? Despre identitățile politice europene (Kin, People or Nation? Regarding European Political Identities), Curtea Veche, Bucharest, 2003; 2005; RAO, Bucharest, 2015, 220 p.; Idem, Conceptualizarea istoriei și limitele paradigmei naționale (The Conceptualisation of History and the Limits of the National Paradigm), RAO, București, 2015, 215 p.

[2] Rewriting a national history is useful and provides the marks for a history of European demos. The historian becomes not only a mediator, evaluator and critically-corrective interpreter of the past, but also discoverer of socio-cultural similarities, capable of comparing and integrating social peculiarities within a whole; meaning, in our case, within a cultural context acceptable to all Europeans. The national perspective induced the idea of an imperative partisanship, which compromised the objectivity of research in social sciences. The scientific progress of knowledge is indebted to the national criterion, that is, the critical examination of work hypotheses. The domination of this rational criterion is less visible in social sciences than in natural sciences, which enables ideologies to bend the truth. See Karl Popper, ‘Regarding Knowledge and Ignorance’ in Idem, Searching for a Better World: Three Decades of Conferences and Essays (I cited the Romanian version, În căutarea unei lumi mai bune. Trei decenii de conferințe și eseuri, translated by Anca Rădulescu, Bucharest, 1998, pp. 50-52, p. 53).

[3]Harvey Siegel, ‘Multiculturalism and the Possibility of Transcultural Educational and Philosophical Ideals’, in Philosophy, The Royal Institute of Philosophy, Cambridge, vol. 74, no. 289, 1999, pp. 387-409. For details regarding the history of concepts which define European national communities, see Victor Neumann, Neam, Popor sau Națiune? Despre identitățile politice europene (Kin, People or Nation? Regarding European Political Identities), 3rd edition, RAO, 2015; and Victor Neumann, Armin Heinen (Editors), Key Concepts of Romanian History, CEU Press, Budapest, 2013.     

[4] Harvey Siegel, l.c., p. 393-394.

[5] Ibidem, p. 396.

[6] For example, there are urban centres in which cultural and spiritual values have been amalgamated, social integration and citizenship being more important than identity conservation on ethnographic or mono-linguistic criteria. In Central and East-Central Europe, in cities like Košice, Timişoara, Bratislava, Lviv, Trieste, Gorizia and others, ethnic definitions minimize or distort the inherited cultural reality that reflects plurality and not specificity. The exegeses written in the name of a nation or ethno-nation do not mind such realities. The nationalisms and ethno-nationalisms marginalise or exclude any kind of pluralism.

[7] Harvey Siegel, l.c., p. 402.

[8] Andrei Pleşu, Toleranţa şi intolerabilul. Criza unui concept (Tolerance and the Intolerable: The Crisis of a Concept), in Idem, Despre bucurie în Est şi în Vest şi alte eseuri (About Happiness in East and in West and Other Essays), Bucharest, 2006, p. 97.

[9] Harvey Siegel, ‘Multiculturalism and the Possibility of Transcultural Educational and Philosophical Ideals’, in Philosophy, The Royal Institute of Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74, no. 289, 1999, pp. 402-403. See also Charles Taylor, ‘The Politics of Recognition’, in Idem, Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition, Edited and Introduced by Amy Gutmann, Princeton, 1994.

[10] Ibidem, p.404; ‘…Goldberg’s (and Rorty’s) denial of universality relies upon the presupposition that values, in order to be universal or transcultural, must be grounded in some impossibly neutral perspective. He argues, in effect, as follows: 1. Universal (moral) principles and values must be grounded on, or derived from, a “trans-historical or super-social Godly” perspective. 2. There is no such perspective. 3. Therefore, there can be no universal principles or values. If “universal” is understood in this way, then I agree with Goldberg and Rorty that there can be no such universal values, principles or ideals. But we need not and should not understand the term in this way’. For the learners of Rorty’s family, the interferences, the claim of common roots, the bi- and multi-lingualism, the mixed families and ambivalent historical legacies are impossible and unwanted.

[11] Leo Frobenius, Paideuma. Schiţă a unei filozofii a culturii (Paideuma: A Sketch for a Philosophy of Culture), translated by Ion Roman, Bucharest, 1985, p. 147.

[12] See Victor Neumann, The End of a History: The Jews of Banat from the Beginning to Nowadays, Bucharest, 2006; Idem, Conceptually Mystified. East-Central Europe Torn Between Ethno-nationalism and Recognition of Multiple Identities, Bucharest, 2004; Moritz Csáky, Ambivalenz des kulturellen Erbes Zentraleuropa in vol. Ambivalenz des Kulturelles Erbes. Vielfachcodierung des historischen Gedächtnisses. Paradigma Österreichs, editors Moritz Csáky and Klaus Zeyringer, Studien Verlag, Innsbruck-Wien-München, 2000, pp. 27-51; Csáky Móric, Ideologie der Operette und Wiener Moderne. Ein Kulturhistorisches Essay zur Österreichischen Identität, Boehlau Verlag, 1996 (translated in Hungarian, under the title Az operett ideológiája és a Bécsi modernség. Kulturtörteneti Tanulmány, Budapest, 1999).

[13] Victor Neumann, Identités multiples dans l’Europe des Regions. L’Interculturalité du Banat, Timişoara, 1997. Idem, Die Interkulturalitaet des Banats, Berlin, 2015.

[14] During the entire eighteenth century, the Habsburg Empire promoted a solid internal social peace and ensured the power balance at continental level, being the most important military force situated between Great Britain and the Tsarist Empire.

[15] Gerard Noiriel, Le creuset français. Histoire de l’immigration XIX-e – XX-e siècle, Éditions du Seuil, 1988, cf. Annexes statistiques, pp. 405-426.

[16] Nationalism cultivated through language not only serves to the pluralism, but generates fear for all that is or seems foreign.

[17] Political groups promoting the ethnic ideal express the choice of a majority in states such as Romania. Not only extremist political factions such as Partidul România of the ultra-national leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor and Partidul Noua Generaţie of populist fundamentalist Gigi Becali, but also democratic parties are based on ethnic criteria when trying to win the electorate or promote citizens’ interests. The centralist expression of decision power favoured as well the mentioned option.

[18] The moderator of a popular Romanian TV show, miming publicly the democratic gesturing, told me that media promotion of people belonging to minorities – or whose name divulges a different allegiance from the majority – causes ratings to drop. The reason? The public refuses to watch just upon hearing the name. We can archive such an idea only by perpetuating the discrimination through the use of ethno-centric grid. In Eastern Europe, national-communism contributed to the survival of such ideology. Ceaușescu’s Romania, Zhivkov’s Bulgaria and Milosevic’s Serbia are examples that show the Balkan politics is still profoundly influenced by the idea of collective identity formulated in the nineteenth century.

[19] That is why I reckoned that the study and the conception of a lexicon of key notions from East-European cultures would be a useful tool for the liberation of socio-political languages from the old stereotypes that induced authoritarian and totalitarian ideologies during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Starting from the model launched by historian Reinhart Koselleck, together with Professor Armin Heinen from Aachen University and Professor Christian Manner from Mainz University, we conceived a project regarding the redaction of a lexicon of fundamental terms of Romanian cultural and political history.

[20] For the moment, the most representative segment of immigrants working in Romania comes from Moldova – which, at least for now, is conserving the same ethno-national direction.

[21] Medieval administrative structures of Oriental origin of Ottoman Empire preserved the separation of groups according to religion. Even so, until modernity, Orthodoxy was the glue of Balkan population. The so-called ethnographic traits (according to German and Italian Romantic researchers), as well as the discovery of language peculiarities, contributed to the drawing of frontiers among Greeks, Turks, Serbians, Albanians and Romanians.

[22]Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj could represent a project for the re-thinking of identity issues. The shared regulation of norms regarding cultural and multi-lingual cohabitation can be prolific in the sense of stimulating the East-West dialogue and the European integration of the region. See also Victor Neumann, ‘Civic Education and Human Rights in an Intercultural Perspective. The Case of Romania’, in Idem, Between Words a Reality: Studies on the Politics of Recognition and the Changes of Regime in Contemporary Romania, translated from Romanian by Simona Neumann, Washington, D.C., pp. 89-134; about Babeş-Bolyai University, pp. 112-117.

[23] See Marc Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century, London, 1999.

[24] I refer to the drastic diminution of German minorities in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Russia; forced assimilation and emigration of Turks from Bulgaria during Zhivkov’s communist regime; extermination (during war) or selling (during communism) of Jews from nearly all the states of Central, East and South-East Europe.

[25] One of today’s controversies takes place around the theoretical messages regarding national identity, formulated by Johann Gottfried Herder. See, Damon Linker, ‘The Reluctant Pluralism of J.G. Herder’ in The Review of Politics, Notre Dame, Spring, 2000, pp.1-14; and Victor Neumann, ‘Volk (Popor) şi Sprache (Limbă) în gîndirea lui Herder. Teoria speculativă a etnonaţiunii’ (Volk (People) and Sprache (Language) in Herder’s Thought: The Speculative Theory of Ethno-Nation), in Idem, Neam, Popor sau Naţiune. Despre identităţile politice europene (Kin, People or Nation? Regarding European Political Identities), second edition, Bucharest, 2005, pp. 47-84; third edition, Bucharest, 2015, pp. 41-78.

[26] Pogromul de la Iaşi: 28-30 iunie 1941. Prologul Holocaustului din România (The Pogrom of Iași: 28th-30th June 1941: The Prologue of Romanian Holocaust), edition tended by George Voicu, Iaşi, 2006.

[27]Traian Ungureanu, Despre Securitate. România, ţara “ca şi cum” (Regarding Securitate: Romania, The Country of ‘As If’), Bucharest, 2006. Regarding the area’s general evolution during the post-war years, see Victor Neumann, ‘National political cultures and regime changes in East-Central Europe’, in the volume History of Political Thought in National Context, Iain Hampsher-Monk & Dario Castiglione (eds.), Cambridge, 2001, pp. 228-246.

[28] Charles Taylor, op.cit., pp. 66-67. …‘The “fusion of horizons” operates through our developing new vocabularies of comparison, by which we can articulate these contrasts. But what the presumption requires of us is not peremptory and inauthentic judgments of equal value, but willingness to be open to comparative cultural study of the kind that must displace our horizons in the resulting fusions’, Cf. Idem, op.cit., p. 75.

[29] See Victor Neumann, The End of a History: The Jews of Banat from the Beginning to Nowadays, Bucharest, 2006.

[30] Hans Dipplich, Rumänisch-Deutsche Kulturbeziehungen im Banat und Rumänische Volkslieder. Relaţiile culturale romano-germane în Banat, Freiburg, 1960; Victor Neumann, Identităţi multiple în Europa regiunilor. Interculturalitatea Banatului. Identites multiples dans l`Europe des Regions. L`Interculturalité du Banat, Timişoara, 1997. See also Mathias Niendorf, Minderheiten an der Grenze: Deutsche und Polen in den Kreisen Flatow (Zlotow) und Zempelburg (Sepolno Krajenskie) 1900-1939, Deutsches Historisches Institut Warschau. Quellen und Studien, vol.6, Wiesbaden, Harrasowitz, 1997.

[31] See numerous intellectual references from the premodern and modern eras by Victor Neumann, ‘The Transitions from Medieval to Modern Era: Echoes of the Renaissance in East-Central Europe and the Balkan Peninsula’; Idem, ‘Religious Reform and the Crisis of Conscience: From Theophilos Corydalleus to Dimitrie Cantemir’; Idem, ‘A Diaspora that Creates Convergence? Judaism in Central and Southeastern Europe’; Idem, ‘Homo Europaeus and the Intellectual Revolution of the Enlightenment’; Idem, ‘Cultural Channels in East-Central Europe: Books and Libraries in Transylvania, Banat, Hungary and Serbia’ in Victor Neumann, The Temptation of Homo Europaeus: An Intellectual History of Central and Southeastern Europe, Translated by Dan Miu and Neil Titman, Edited, revised and updated, London, 2020, pp. 41-74; 75-102; 103-150; 151-174; 175-235.

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