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

  • University of Eastern Piedmont

    University of Eastern Piedmont

  • Institute for Social Research

    Institute for Social Research

  • University of Helsinki

    University of Helsinki

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set these optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Privacy Policy page


Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.


Analytics cookies

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone.