Greek refugees in Syria

The Debt: Historicizing Europe’s Relations with the ‘South’


Project Summary

Since the Euro-crisis, the benign European self-image of unity in diversity yields in the face of a new South-North divide, in which different layers of the past are evoked to explain the division and justify actions. The reasonings mix historical facts with normative, moralistic claims. At their centre is the concept of debt.

The core question of this project is: ‘What impact does the invocation of a past debt have on the relation between two (collective) subjects in the present?’ The question will be answered by selected analyses of debt in narratives about the European past.

Invocations of debt have a performative potential and intend to direct action, claiming that a historical debt relation entails rights and responsibilities in the present. This project links questions of historiography with concerns in political philosophy. It addresses the issue of the connection between past and present as posed in the arts and in historical sociology.

Scholarly debate has done little in the newly divided Europe to make different viewpoints intelligible to others. This research will demonstrate how performative invocation of past debt has an impact on the present. It will also demonstrate how a historically insensitive accounting view of debt can provoke guilt-oriented reconstructions of the past as a counter-measure. It aims at a more responsible use of the past in the present.

Prof. Peter Wagner

Project Leader

University of Barcelona
Spain


Project Partners

Prof. Peter Wagner

Project Leader

University of Barcelona
Spain

Email

Prof. Simona Forti

University of Eastern Piedmont
Italy

Email

Prof. Axel Honneth

Institute for Social Research
Germany

Email

Prof. Bo Stråth

University of Helsinki
Finland

Email

Associate Partners

Judit Carrera

Centre de Cultura Contemporánia de Barcelona, Spain
Spain

Judith Maiworm

Goethe Institute Barcelona
Spain

Xavier Artigas

Metromuster
Spain

Stefan Mumme

BHF Bank Stiftung
Germany

Enrico Donaggio

Unione Culturale Franco Antonicelli
Spain

Christina Koulouri

Research centre for Modern History
Greece

  • University of Barcelona

    University of Barcelona

    Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 585, 08007 Barcelona, Spain

  • University of Eastern Piedmont

    University of Eastern Piedmont

    Vian del Duomo, 6, 13100 Vercelli VC, Italy

  • Institute for Social Research

    Institute for Social Research

    Senckenberganlage 26, Frankfurt, Germany

  • University of Helsinki

    University of Helsinki

    Yliopistonkatu 4, 00100 Helsinki, Finland