London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Panel Abstracts

Other Europes Colloquium


Martijn de Koning
'Reaching out to your brothers and sisters': Muslim youth in the Netherlands and the transformative potential of new media

In the last 5 years the Internet has become the principal platform for the dissemination and mediation of the ideology of islamic movements, ranging from purist (non-violent) to politically engaged movements to jihadi networks. Certainly in intelligence and security circles the Internet is considered the single most important venue for the radicalization of Muslim youth. On the other hand the Internet is seen as a means for people to transcend ethnic and religious divisions that are pervasive in other spheres of life.

In this paper I will argue that both premises seem to result from a lack of understanding of the relationship between online and offline realities and still more from the difficulty of ascertaining the extent to which websites influence wider audiences and users. Their conspicuous consumption can be seen as the site of struggle to exploit the transformative potential of the Internet in creating a global consciousness that transcends national and ethnic divides. In order to understand this potential however the local context and the way global narratives are appropriated in the local context, should be taken into account. My argument will be based on my empirical study of the practices of Muslim youth with regard to the Internet; I will explore how they act simultaneously as performers and observers in these virtual spaces.

Janet Enever
Ideologies of plurilingualism, the pragmatism of lingua francas and the problematic of future-gazing

The focus of this paper relates to questions of nation, state and languages within the European space today, adopting a socio-historical viewpoint on linguistic nationalism, pluralisation and the increased global demand for English as an essential element of cultural capital.

In today’s Europe, as the A8 membership establishes its voice, this paper will briefly draw on examples of historical and contemporary linguistic tensions to illustrate patterns of continuing shift and change in Europe. Against this background the paper will explore current tendencies for the spread of English in particular domains of use, highlighting specific tensions and reviewing the extent to which European recommendations for plurilingualism, combined with increased global economic interconnectedness might have escalated this pattern. Centrally, the paper will interrogate an agenda which appears to promote the benefits of a Europe-wide policy of plurilingualism as a vehicle for maintaining socio-cultural stability, whilst also facilitating an increased tendency to acknowledge English as not just a lingua franca, not just an international language, but, perhaps, as a basic skill.

Tim Haughton
Open for Business? National Preference Formation in Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic

Previous explorations into the national preference formation of EU Member States have generated a number of different explanations including size, societal interests, dependency, ideology and unique historical experiences. Many of these accounts, however, are derived from studies of the older, established Member States of Western Europe. To what extent do the explanations hold for the new Member States of Central and Eastern Europe?

Although acknowledging three and a half years is an insufficient period of time to arrive at definitive conclusions, this paper seeks to explore preference formation in three states (Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic). Inter alia, its findings highlight the continuing legacy of the division between Luxembourg and Helsinki invitees and provides some support for Moravcsik’s theory of Liberal Intergovernmentalism.

Jean Léo Léonard
Challenging populism and radicalism in Europe: a theory of Integration and Disintegration for multilingual contexts

As David Crystal pointed out, three still ongoing sociolinguistic revolutions occurred in the 1990s: i) globalization of English as a world language, ii) sociolinguistic "death" for roughly more than half of the world’s languages in the next half of the century, and iii) the rise of Internet as a global medium. Two additional revolutions could be mentioned: iv) the rise and fall of pluralistic language planning in former or new confederative zones, as in ex-Yugoslavia and Russia, but also Central and Western Europe; v) increasing immigration flows all over the world, entailing new challenges for multilingual integration in the "First World" countries, where xenophobia and racial polarisation are strengthened by a strong return of Jacobin and chauvinistic attitudes.

Applying Lauristin and Karklins’ Theory of Integration, I will attempt in this paper to assess the consequences of these ‘revolutions’ for minority languages and languages protected under now defunct federative regimes.

Sonia McKay
Migrants, jobs rights and organising


Much of the media attention on migration has focused on migrants ether as posing challenges to existing social cohesion (however that is identified) or as potential threats, not only to the jobs of indiginous workers, but also more widely to their wages and conditions. Yet the available research generally finds that migration has not depressed wages, although in some sectors and in some occupations it may have a marginal and temporary impact. This paper focuses on these issues and on their relevance to wider issues of collective organisation. It questions whether trade unions could be seen as potential agents in the transformation of the public debate on migration.

Geoffrey Pridham
The New Member States from Post-Communist Europe: EU Democratic
Conditionality and Long-Term Political Reform - Continuation or Interruption?

The paper will both look back at the outcome of the EU's political conditionality in the 2004 and 2007 enlargement processes; but also identify any emerging patterns as to conditionality follow-up in the new member states. What factors persuade CEE countries to keep on the reform path; or, what may induce them to diverge from that path or even backtrack?

The discussion will relate these outcomes to democratic consolidation in post-Communist states; and, conclusions will be drawn about the depth and stability of
EU-prompted transformation in accession and new member states.

Gino G. Raymond
Left out or Left in? Paradoxes of the French Left’s Responses to Islam

The political class as a whole in France, but especially the Left, has been profoundly shaped by the revolutionary heritage of 1789 and the way it reconfigured the perception of humanity philosophically. Determined to combat the determinisms that fractured French society under the ancien régime, such as religion, the individual was reconfigured firstly as a citizen, and then by the Left as indistinguishable from a class, the proletariat. But while in both cases the conceptualisation of the individual had the benefit of unity and clarity, the abstract nature of these notions too often left out those very factors that are most real and significant for their self-definition to those individuals themselves. Moreover, the transformation of France since the 1960s into a multi-racial and multi-faith society has exposed the culture-specific conditioning that underlay the apparent neutrality of the conceptualisation of the individual bequeathed by 1789.

This paper will explore the ways in which the Left has struggled with its intellectual heritage in its relationship with minorities, especially Muslims, from the xenophobic populism of the Communists in the early 1980s to the recognition proposed by some Socialists during their last period in government and will ask whether the key to defusing the tensions that currently exist lies in the emergence of a ‘Gallican’ Islam or a fundamental reappraisal of, not only the ideology of the French Left, but of the Republic as a whole.

Jill Rutter
Changing Patterns of Child Migration in Europe: implications for researchers, pulic policy and practice

During the last 10 years, the UK has experienced increased international migration. From 1989 until 2002 asylum migration increased. The UK has also experienced an increase in labour migration from the EU and outside it. This paper is based on research undertaken between 2005 and 2006. Itoutlines the main demographic changes brought about by international migration in Europe and then considers how these changes affect the provision of child welfare services. The paper argues that hegemonic constructions of migration advanced by non-governmental organisations homogenise the migrant child and fail to acknowledge the complexity of their experiences.

Sara Silvestri
Euro-Islam: Threats, Aberrations, and Radical Responses

This paper seeks to provide a critical framework to understand to what extent Islam can pose a challenge to European self-conceptions and community cohesion. 50 years after the European Community (EC) was inaugurated, the theme of "integration" is still central and controversial amongst Europeans, not only because the EC/EU paradigm is increasingly shifting from economic to political integration but also because one segment of society - namely Muslim youth - does not seem to be socially integrated in European culture and lifestyle. Less than 2 decades after Europeans became aware that the Muslim population "of" Europe was there to stay, terrorist attacks perpetrated by individuals claiming to act in the name of Islam are thought to have broken the thin layer of social trust that was beginning to be established between Muslims and non Muslims in Europe. As a consequence of this conjuncture of events, discussing the increasing visibility of the Islam in contemporary Europe is now often reduced to a security-based rhetoric, to navel-gazing about national identity driven by fear of the Muslim "other". This logic in which culture and identity are referred to as eternal immutable entities and the much-invoked Judaic-Christian roots of Europe are nothing but a myth confronted by the indomitable and novel force of Islam, risks to reinforce stereotypes, mutual hostility and segregation.

In reality, we should acknowledge that questions about the purpose and identity of a unified Europe have accompanied the birth and evolution of the EC/EU. In the face of an increased visibility of the Muslim "of" Europe and the renewed expansion and assertion of Political Islam, both in the so-called ‘Muslim world’ and in the ‘West’, over the last century, these questions are perceived to acquire renewed salience and intensity.

This paper dissects the perceived threat of Islam into eight sub-challenges which in fact demonstrate that many of the apparent "problems" of Islam in Europe stem from the continent’s general crisis of identity, as well as by feelings shared across the population of Europe, from generational gaps, to decreasing trust in democratic institutions and, most of all, to inability to grapple with the socio-political mobilizing and coalescing power of religion.
It is argued that, to a secular continent where religion is either ridiculed or part of a mythical past, the capability of Islam to draw on values that enable individuals to mobilize beyond conventional forms of political participation emerges as the main factors that, on the one hand, attract individuals to Islam, and, on the other hand, cause Europe to feel vulnerable to the ‘revolutionary’ and missionary power of Islam.

Jenny Carl and Patrick Stevenson
The stratigraphy of language policy discourses: the German language in central Europe

Concluding her critical history of language policy, Wright (2004) calls for ‘more targeted investigation of how the three levels (global/national/local) are developing and interacting linguistically’. This paper will attempt to respond to this call by presenting an analysis of how cultural policies in relation to the German language have been evolving in central and eastern Europe since 1989.

This region is a contemporary site par excellence of sociolinguistic change, conflict and accommodation: the years of rapid social transformation since 1989 have changed the context within which language policies and linguistic practices are developed and contested. Monolithic state-centred models have been challenged by the need to accommodate to globalised conditions of communication (Blommaert 2003), but the prophecies of the imminent global domination of a single language - English - have generally given way to a more differentiated perspective.
Following recent debates on the future of German (e.g. Gardt and Hüppauf 2004), the paper will focus on central Europe as the space in which its influence was historically most extensive. While it has largely ceded this influence to English in terms of engagement with global networks beyond the region, we shall investigate the policies that are being developed to promote it as a transnational resource within the region.

Drawing on documents and interviews with policy-makers relating to different levels of policy formation in Germany and Austria on the one hand and in Hungary and the Czech Republic on the other, our analysis will focus on the relationship between these different layers of policy formulation and on the development of language policy discourses in the broader context of European strategies for multilingualism.

Blommaert, J. (2003) ‘Commentary: A sociolinguistics of globalization’, in Journal of Sociolinguistics 7/4, 607-23.
Gardt, A. & Hüppauf, B. (eds) (2004) Globalization and the Future of German (de Gruyter).
Wright, S. (2004) Language Policy and Language Planning: From Nationalism to Globalisation (Palgrave)


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