Priority Area Leads: Professor Mark Webber, School of Government and Society, email@example.com; Professor John Klapper, Centre for Modern Languages, firstname.lastname@example.org
Europe enjoys a significant political, economic and cultural influence on global affairs, and this priority area is concerned with the study of this influence globally. It is open to scholars across a range of disciplines (Political Science, History, Economics, Cultural Studies, including Modern Languages, Music and Art History) who share a concern with the contemporary significance and the historical and cultural contexts of European influence.
Today, Europe's influence is projected via the agency of the European Union and the external activities of certain European states. That influence, however, has become subject to transformational change in the global arena (through the rise of new centres of power) and within Europe itself (not least through the constraints of austerity consequent upon the Eurozone crisis). Social scientists and contemporary historians at Birmingham are engaged with these very topical issues.
However, Europe's role in the world also becomes clearer through understanding its past imperial ambitions, and at Birmingham we also have strengths in this field. In Modern Languages research is being undertaken into the legacy of Europe's colonial past and how this shapes bilateral relations of EU members with their former colonies, into the memory of European colonisation and decolonisation, and into the postcolonial literatures, cultures and social histories of the Hispanophone and Francophone Caribbean.
This priority area also touches on other fields. For instance, art historians at Birmingham are concerned with the construction of art's histories and the practices of contemporary art. Key themes include: the relationship between European modernisms and those in Asia, Africa and Latin America; the globalisation of contemporary art and the art market; the Europeanness of art history and the shape of non-European discourses of art. Musicologists are interested in music's role in cultural diasporas of one kind or another; for example, Europe's role in the slave trade and Asian immigration to the UK and the musics it brought with it have both had significant impact.
The University of Birmingham has long-established strengths in these areas. It is home to the Graduate Centre for Europe, the Institute for German Studies, the Centre for Russian and East European Studies (CREES) and the Institute for European Law. It has an established University-wide ‘Postcolonial Birmingham’ research network. There are also plans for a major relaunch of the European Research Institute. Colleagues working with Departments of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) and Economics, as well as the School of Languages and Cultures, and the School of History and Cultures conduct internationally-renowned research on Europe-related themes. European Studies at the University of Birmingham has been ranked very highly in successive Research Assessment Exercises.
European focused research at Birmingham
The University has been enormously successful in attracting research income to develop our Europe-focused work.
Key Research Questions
How can the agency of the EU be conceptualised in relation to its external role? What is the ongoing relevance, in this connection, of notions of civilian, normative and market power Europe?
What are the empirical dimensions of the EU’s role in the world (military, diplomatic, economic, cultural, developmental) and how are these changing in response to external pressures (the altered nature of transatlanticism, the rise of China, Brazil, India and so on) and internal political and economic constraints?
How does the EU’s role accord with or contradict that of other international actors (including powerful states such as the US, China and Russia, and organisations such as NATO, the UN, ASEAN, and the African Union)?
How does one conceptualise, evaluate and understand the ongoing role of large European states in international affairs – be that the UK, Germany or France?
What is the significance of Russia and Ukraine as ‘European’ states?
In what ways do shifting spheres of influence affect identity construction and cultural expression?
How are we to understand the postcolonial legacy in Francophone Africa and the Francophone and Hispanophone Caribbean?
What is the nature of European colonial history, of Europe’s relationship with non-European worlds, of 'popular imperialism' in Europe, and of comparative European imperialisms? This is an exciting time to be working on European themes at the University of Birmingham. The recently completed Europe Review reaffirmed our commitment to this rich area of study. The University is the only British university to have a Brussels Office, and this facilitates our engagement with policymaking at the European Commission as well as raising our profile in Europe.
Please note the above description of what we do is indicative rather than exhaustive, and we would like to hear from eligible scholars with projects relevant to the theme even if the specific fields concerned are not explicitly named: there may well be a productive fit with strands of our research not spelled out in this brief introduction.
Before contacting specific researchers, those interested in applying for Birmingham Fellowships in this Priority Area are encouraged initially to approach Professor Mark Webber at M.A.Webber.email@example.com for queries relevant to Political Science and International Relations, and Professor John Klapper at firstname.lastname@example.org for queries relevant to Modern Languages, Art History and Music.
Mark and John will be able to direct enquiries to the individuals or groups most affiliated with applicants’ research areas.