Europe's Stories

Europe's Stories

Contested Narratives, Complex Histories, Conflicted Union


Between Brexit, populism, Eurozone tensions and uncertainty, divided European reactions to Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, many wonder if Europe has lost the plot. Some argue that, aside from actual policies, there is a burning need for a new narrative for the European project. 

Are they right? If yes, what should be its central ingredients for the 21st-century? What are the already available resources, in print and otherwise? How can one reconcile the desirable, inspiring simplicity of a narrative with a recognition of Europe's extremely complex realities, the necessity of intellectual scepticism and (as famously admonished by Ernest Renan) the historian's task of myth-busting? Shouldn't it be stories rather than one story? How should it (or they) be told? By whom, for whom and, not least, by what means? In the digital age, with young Europeans growing up in the online world of social media, what are the best forms for making this story (or stories) accessible and attractive? Can one realise the European ideal of 'unity in diversity' in narrative/s?

This new research project of the Dahrendorf programme seeks to explore these and other questions, starting by asking what stories Europe – in all its multiple meanings, by no means confined to the institutions of the EU – does currently tell. There will be a major international, interdisciplinary conference in Oxford in May 2019, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Dahrendorf Programme. Research will be commissioned. We will work with polling groups such as the Eupinions project. An innovative website, as well as podcasts and social media interactions are planned. Events with a wider public will also be held in Germany and elsewhere.

The project is directed by Professor Timothy Garton Ash and the Research Manager is Selma Kropp. An advisory committee consists of leading Oxford academics: Professor Paul BettsDr Hartmut Mayer, Professor Kalypso Nicolaidis, Professor Faisal Devji, Dr Jonathan Bright, Professor Ruth Harris, Professor Carolin Duttlinger, Professor Andrew Hurrell, Professor David Priestland, Professor Anna-Maria Misra, Dr Rasmus Nielsen, and Dr Sudhir Hazareesingh .

The project, which will run for two years in the first instance, is generously funded by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit, the ZEIT-Stiftung Eberlin und Gerd Bucerius and Stiftung Mercator.