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Philosophy in a Time of Crisis is a collective research project, based at the University of Warwick, and led by Prof. Miguel de Beistegui and Dr. Amedeo Policante.

Margins of Europe

Today, Europe is faced with multiple crises. To mention a few: unprecedented waves of immigrants and refugees; the most severe economic crisis since 1929; and an increasing number of terrorist attacks. Having done much in the last fifty years to achieve peace and prosperity, to build bridges between nations and cultures, Europe has now reverted to putting up fences and walls, and introducing mechanisms of social and economic exclusion. It is increasingly confronted with social tensions and political divisions. National-populisms are on the rise. On the 24th of June 2016, after a debate that focused almost exclusively on immigration, the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, sending shock waves throughout the continent and across the world. Is this the beginning of the end of Europe? Is it a test of its resilience? Or is it an opportunity to rethink its raison d’être, its identity, its future?

 

Rather than approach Europe in general terms, as an idea, PhilosophyX aims to think through some of the key problems and challenges Europe faces – ones that are used, all too often, as evidence for its failure, and as reasons to reject the very notion of a European project and collective responsibility.

 

PhilosophyX seeks to approach these challenges, and the question of collective responsibility, by focusing on what happens at the margins of Europe, in the liminal space that is neither inside nor outside; or, both inside and outside.


Our initial understanding of “margins” is spatial and geographical: margins indicate the borders and limits of Europe, delimit its territory and defines its sovereignty. Borders differentiate the national from the foreign, the “we” from the “them”. But do borders today simply demarcate territories? Are they purely geo-political, controlled and policed merely as fixed geographical entities? Or, are they borders on the move, that cut across nation-states, appear in the most unexpected corners of our urban lives, constantly shifting according to a new logic of ubiquity?

 

We can also look at margins through a socio-political and economic lens: at those who, within Europe, are systematically marginalised, dispossessed and excluded; at those who live at the very limit of a nation’s economic and symbolic mechanisms of integration, at thus at the limit of life in a political sense.

 

PhilosophyX will focus not on the citizen, but on the foreigner and the migrant; not on the national assembly, but on the refugee camp; not on the worker, but on the unemployed, the poor, and the homeless. We will examine the forms of social and political life that are deeply damaged to the point of becoming almost spectral; lives which, while included in a mechanism of power, are excluded from the socio-symbolic formation of subjectivity, and are now, as a result, radically insecure.

 

These lives haunt Europe and question its very existence. What is Europe? What could it become?

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