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Legitimation of European cultural heritage and the dynamics of identity politics in the EU

Project description

Studying the consequences of Europe’s transnational cultural heritage

Since the early 2000s, the EU has been working towards the creation of a transnational cultural heritage in order to establish a shared European cultural identity. However, the consequences of these efforts have been complicated, poorly understood and potentially dangerous. As a result, various ideas and ideologies have emerged that are disrupting European politics. To address these concerns, the EUROHERIT project, funded by the European Research Council, aims to study the legitimisation efforts across different administrative levels, the effects and changes caused, to provide the EU and policymakers with a better understanding of this initiative and its effects.


The problematic of transnational cultural heritage has become topical in a new way in Europe with the utilization of the idea of heritage for political purposes in the EU policy. Since the turn of the century, the EU has launched or jointly administered several initiatives focusing on fostering the idea of a common European cultural heritage. The heritage initiatives are the EU’s ‘technologies of power’ aiming to legitimate and justify certain political ideas and ideologies, such as European-wide identity politics and the cultural integration in Europe. However, the politics, discourses, and practices of heritage—and of transnational heritage in particular—are often intertwined with contentions over its symbolical and factual ownership, meanings, and uses. The project investigates the EU as a new heritage agent and its heritage politics as an attempt to create a new trans-European heritage regime in Europe: How does the EU aim to create common European cultural heritage in a politically shaking and culturally diversified Europe, and what kind of explicit and implicit politics are included in its aims? The project will focus on the legitimation processes of European cultural heritage at different territorial levels and the power relations formed in the processes between diverse agencies. The academia still lacks a comparative empirical investigation on the politics and practices of trans-European cultural heritage and the theoretical discussion on the role of the EU in them. The project aims to respond to this lack with a broad comparative empirical research including cases from various parts of Europe, penetrating different territorial scales (local, regional, national, and the EU), and theorizing cultural heritage from a multisectional perspective (stressing its concurrent use in diverse societal domains and discourses). The project participates in a critical discussion on the current identity and integration politics and policies in the EU and Europe.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 339 755,00
40100 Jyvaskyla

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Manner-Suomi Länsi-Suomi Keski-Suomi
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 339 755,00

Beneficiaries (1)