The rise of populist extremism in Europe: Lost in diversity and unity
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CoHERE explores the ways in which identities in Europe are constructed through heritage representations and performances that connect to ideas of place, history, tradition and belonging. The research identifies existing heritage practices and discourses in Europe. It also identifies means to sustain and transmit European heritages that are likely to contribute to the evolution of inclusive, communitarian identities and counteract disaffection with, and division within, the EU. A number of modes of representation and performance are explored in the project, from cultural policy, museum display, heritage interpretation, school curricula and political discourse to music and dance performances, food and cuisine, rituals and protest. WP2 investigates public/popular discourses and dominant understandings of a homogeneous ‘European heritage’ and the ways in which they are mobilized by specific political actors to advance their agendas and to exclude groups such as minorities from a stronger inclusion into European society. What notions of European heritage circulate broadly in the public sphere and in political discourse? How do the ‘politics of fear’ relate to such notions of European heritage and identity across and beyond Europe and the EU? How is the notion of a European heritage and memory used not only to include and connect Europeans but also to exclude some of them? We are interested in looking into the relationship between a European memory and heritage-making and circulating notions of ‘race’, ethnicity, religion and civilization as well as contemporary forms of discrimination grounded in the idea of incommensurable cultural and memory differences. This essay reveals the social, political and economic sources of the populist zeitgeist in the European Union. The essay starts with an analysis of the current state of populist extremism in Europe. Subsequently, it elaborates different aspects of the current political framework in which populist political rhetoric is becoming strongly rooted in a time characterized with globalism, multiculturalism bashing, financial crisis, refugee crisis, Islamophobism, terror, Euroscepticism, and nativism.