European Identity & Politics on the Verge of the Refugee Crisis

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       Alexander Goerlach, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute, Affiliate to the Government Dept. of Harvard Univ, visited GSIS for special guest lecture on the topic of “European Identity and Politics on the Verge of the Refugee Crisis.” Touching upon a vast scope of European history dating back to the 17th century to contemporary Europe, Goerlach talked about the origin and transformation of the Western European identity, and how the relevant debates are becoming especially reignited upon the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. While the ‘European project’ has been profoundly successful in inventing a new common ground of values and shared identity for the European states to experience an unprecedented level of integration and peace, Goerlach discussed how nation-based identities are becoming reinvigorated and clashing with the European identity especially in the post-9/11 era. Using the term Christian Occident, Goerlach found how the dominant Christianity and/or Catholicism rooted in the political foundations of Western European countries are leading many of these states to question the compatibility of Islam with democracy, in which lies the current problems of Europe’s identity and refugee crisis, as well as many right-wing parties’ ‘scapegoating’ of Islam in Europe.