Iver B. Neumann

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Norwegian Institute for International Affairs, Oslo


Europe and the others

Understood as a social and political entity, Europe is constituted by its outside. It is, as anthropologists beginning with Fredrik Barth have elaborated for more than forty years now, at the boundaries to others that identities are being maintained. The article looks at the consequences of this for European identity, makes a tour d’horizon of Europe’s constitutive outsides, and draws particular attention to the key role played by the Eurasian steppe in European state building. Steppe polities were part of a tradition, with patterns of leadership, succession and also foreign relations that differ from what was found amongst sedentary polities, but they nonetheless put their distinct marks on state building projects. Europe’s Eastern neighbours must be thought of as intimate strangers through a more than thousand year long period.