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Research on European Identity: Sickle & Crescent

This past project was made possible by a generous Marie Curie Fellowship (granted by the European Commission) that Benoit Challand carried through at the European University Institute in 2006-2008 (Florence, Italy).

The research project intends to shed light on the impact of two different significant Others at two crucial moments of European construction in a cross-historical perspective and in a multidisciplinary manner. The first external presence is the threat embodied by Eastern European communism during the immediate post-World War II period and in the first years of the European construction. The second is the current debate about the integration of Muslim majority Turkey into the EU and of the challenge that, according to many, Islamist ideologies represent to the political order of a democratic and secular Europe.

These two significant Others for the Europe construction might have been symbolized by the Sickle (of the communist flag) in the immediate post-WW2 period. Now it could be argued that the liminal threat is that of the Crescent (symbol of Islam). The research is at the crossroads of political history and sociology.


Some of the findings can be found in the following articles:

- “1989, Contested Memories and the Shifting Cognitive Maps of Europe”, European Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 12, Num. 3 (2009), 397-408.

- "European Identity and Its External Others Seen from History Textbooks (1950-2005)”, Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society, Vol. 2, Num. 1 (2009), 60-96.

- “From Hammer and Sickle to Star and Crescent. The Question of Religion for European Identity and a Political Europe ”, Religion, State and Society, Vol. 37, Num. 1 (2009), 65-80.

- “Intertwined Identities: A gender-based reading of the visual representations ofcContemporary Islam in French, Italian and German textbooks”, Gerdien JONKER and Shiraz THOBANI (eds.) Narrating Islam. Muslims in European Textbooks. London: I. B. Tauris.


Finally, some of the archivial work done for the Marie Curie appeared in chapter 4 of the co-authored monograph (with Chiara Bottici)  The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations, published with Routledge (UK) - 2010.    

Last Updated ( Monday, 15 August 2011 )
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