Imagining Union: European Cultural Identity in the Pre-Federal Future Perfect

Murray Pratt


Rather than offering a detailed analysis of the contents of the draft constitution, a consideration of the extent to which the EU is hampered in its ability to posit a counter-balance to the USAn Empire, or indeed a reflection on the economic and political ramifications of the document’s proposals, the aim of this article is to take a step back from the construction that is Europe, and pause to consider the Utopian assumptions about cultural identity which subtend the notion of union, as expressed within the draft constitution and more broadly across discourses about ‘Europeanness’ as shared destiny which underpin the European project. In order to do so, I draw on theories of national identity and belonging, at the same time interrogating the applicability of the national paradigm to that strange locality, the transnational, pan-regional, post-state, and potentially pre-federal entity which the EU is becoming. In the process, I offer readings of both the constitution, and a less official EU text, namely an online comic entitled ‘Captain Euro’ which was used to promote the single currency. I am particularly interested in investigating the narrativisation of culture and identity as a process of unification or union, and in opening up a space to consider the ideological imperatives which suture this master(ful) narrative. Slavoj Žižek’s theorisation of the moment of narrative possibility as one which occludes its own foundational basis is then considered as one which applies to a form of status denial inherent within the official European narrative of union, and through suggesting a queer reading of the Euroseminal myth of Zeus and Europa, I trace this Žižekian moment of ‘inherent transgression’ as a counter force undermining European cultural unification—paradoxically, perhaps queerly or strangely, a concomitant desire for the discrete and the separate, a drive towards distinction and difference which arises as a necessary complement to its signaled togetherness.


The European Union

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