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Anthropologists and the Study of the EU

Marion Demossier

The 1990s have seen the Anthropology of the European Union developing as an original and unique field of research within the context of Post-colonialism and thequestioning of the nation-state. In the burgeoning field of studies addressing issues of Europeanisation and integration at a time of transition, social anthropologists fromdifferent national traditions have been to the fore in investigating themes pertaining to issues of culture, politics and identity. What is particularly innovative about theirapproach is that it aims to address the links between political processes and culture in the widest sense of the term. Most of the research conducted in this field seeks toexamine whether or not Europe could become a meaningful and emotional political object by analyzing the representations and practices associated with thedevelopment of European integration and the various social and institutional groups at the core of the process. Scholars have either studied the EU from inside focusingon European institutions and the making of Europe as a tapestry of cultures, or they have engaged with the process of Europeanisation defined by Borneman andFowler (1997: p.48) as 'an accelerated process and a set of effects that are redefining forms of identification with territory and people'. This paper will analyse how theAnthropology of the EU as a disciplinary field has responded to the methodological and heuristic challenges and will consider the extent to which its contribution to EUstudies constitutes an important and original research agenda.

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