Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Discourse: Changing Identities, Changing Nations, Changing Stories in European Border Communities, Final report

Project ID: HPSE-CT-1999-00003
Funded under: FP6-CITIZENS


Many nation states in Europe have undergone dramatic social and political upheavals in the 20th century with the construction of new or the redefinition of existing national borders before and after World War II, and more recently as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. New borders divide territory which was previously unified. Old borders collapsed, reuniting territory previously divided. The political definition and ideological make-up of many nation states changed accordingly, with new developments in process today which offer major new alignments in Eastern and south-eastern Europe under the umbrella of an expanding European Union. Families with three generations in the communities on the borders between what is at present the European Union's eastern and south-eastern frontier, and those on the previous border between East and West Germany have experienced between them several dramatic socio-political changes during the life-time of all but their youngest citizens. Further major change is pending with the first wave of accession countries' joining the European Union within the first half of the first decade of the 21st century, thus completing a process whereby a formerly heavily guarded and divisive border turned into an open border between neighbouring friendly states, to finally become an internal border within EU territory. Hence these families had and will continue to embrace major shifts in their public allegiances which will again directly affect the daily life in their communities.
Our research focused on such three-generation families in corresponding sets of geographically contiguous border communities, and aimed to compare how their members perceive and discursively construct their identities in relation and possibly in contrast and opposition to these upheavals in the official spheres of politics.

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