Stella Ghervas

Current Projects

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Expanded Europe: from the Holy Alliance to the Treaty of Lisbon
A Historical Approach to Cultural Foundations of the European Construction

Institute of Advanced Studies (IEA - Paris), 2009

Following its recent territorial expansion to 27 countries, the European Union is undergoing a conceptual crisis, apparently caused by deep-rooted disagreements about a set of core ideas on the Europe-to-be. Yet the authors of the two treaties submitted to European citizens had taken a particular care in inserting values which they conceived to be universally applicable.

What referents (i.e. aspirations, events, memories or imaginations) did those values call up in the minds of the voters who refused them in the ballots? What are those specific ideas which appear controversial as soon as we leave the original project of the founders of the EEC, to embrace this “Expanded Europe” whose limits seem to elude any accurate definition? In order to answer those questions, we need to make a change in the epistemological perspective, by enlarging the focus both in space and time, i.e. by going beyond the conventional year of 1945, traditionally considered by the specialists as the starting point of the European construction.

This project undertakes – in a historical perspective, but drawing as well from the methods of social and political sciences – a chronological study of the philosophical principles and values expressed in several political treaties which played a significant role in European history since 1815 (from the Congress of Vienna and the “Holy Alliance”, to the Treaty of Lisbon). We will put a particular emphasis on the political contexts, as well as the ideas and social groups which carried them forward. We mainly expect, by this shift in focus, to heuristically achieve a closer view of these referents.

The main purpose is to develop, within the research environment of IEA Paris, a conceptual apparatus and a methodological approach that could enhance our understanding of the cultural foundations of today’s Europe.

Introduction (French):