Imaginary Europes

Maggie Ann Bowers (Editor), Sissy Helff (Editor), Elisabeth Bekers (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


This special issue opens up a critical space to reflect on literary and cinematographic images of Europe, as they come alive within and without the bounds of what we, from a geopolitical and cultural perspective, regard as Europe. While most of us are aware of the European Union’s 28 member states, fewer probably know that its geopolitical reach also comprises overseas territories in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.This geographical spread, which translates into different ethnicities, cultural codes and languages, to some extent explains why there can never be one but only many imaginary Europes. Moreover, the 20th century has witnessed crucial changes which have affected our perceptions of Europe: the devastation and consequent reorganisation of nation states during and after the world wars; the collapse of empires; the creation and expansion of the European Union; the end of the Eastern Bloc; the Balkan ethnic conflict and the ensuing nation rebuilding. These events have inaugurated the continuous reshaping of Europe’s population through emigration, immigration and globalisation. With every new generation, the imaginary Europes produced within the continent and in its diasporas proliferate. With each newly independent nation and with each shift in the balance of power, traditional constructions of Europe make way for fresh outlooks. As a consequence of European emigrants settling abroad, new memories of the ancestral home are handed down to subsequent generations. And, with each internal or external migrant seeking a European home, new anticipations of what Europe might be emerge. These factors have been explored not only in the art produced in Europe during the changes in the 20th and 21st centuries, but also at a distance, whether by artists witnessing the changing influence and shape of Europe from afar, or by those examining, in retrospect, the journey that Europe has taken to develop the multifaceted dimension it displays today.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0
Pages (from-to)127-219
Number of pages88
JournalJournal of Postcolonial Writing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


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