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Not So Different After All?: The EU and Myths of Exceptionalism

Della Sala, Vincent (2015) Not So Different After All?: The EU and Myths of Exceptionalism. [Conference Proceedings] (Submitted)

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    Introduction: The paper argues that the sacred narratives of exceptionalism have been part of the evolution of the EU as well. Despite the claims that it eschewed national interests to forge a new kind of polity, one for which traditional concepts and categories are inadequate, to discussions of it being a post-modern polity, there have been narratives that have sought to identify the EU as a distinct and exclusive political community. We will explore whether and how political myths, especially those of exceptionalism, provide ontological security; that is, confidence in who the EU is, what it does and why. It builds on arguments by Mitzen and Steele to explore the extent to which narratives that help define identity are rooted enough to withstand challenges (Mitzen 2006a, Steele 2008). It also challenges Mitzen’s claim that the EU has a deep-rooted identity as a normative power that will guide who it is even when material conditions, such as enhanced capacity, change (Mitzen 2006b). The paper wants to present two arguments. First, that the EU is not so different from state and nation-building processes when it comes to the role of political myths in providing cognitive and normative maps to guide its actions. Second, the recent economic crisis and conflict in the Ukraine highlight the fragility of the EU’s ontological security, reflecting in part that of the political myths that help constitute it. By looking at the narrative form of political myths, and not just the content, we can identify some of the political fault-lines and challenges faced by the EU. The paper is divided into two main sections. The first provides a brief discussion of political myth and how it might contribute to the ontological security of collective actors. It also explores the question of whether the EU is sui generis when it comes to the use of political myth. The second part of the paper looks to attempts to provide a myth of the EU’s exceptionalism and how these have been affected by the economic crisis and the conflict in the Ukraine.

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    Item Type: Conference Proceedings
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2015 (14th), March 4-7, 2015
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2019 10:25
    Number of Pages: 14
    Last Modified: 27 Mar 2019 10:25

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