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Towards a language of 'Europe': history, rhetoric, community

Stock, Paul (2017) Towards a language of 'Europe': history, rhetoric, community. European Legacy, 22 (6). pp. 647-666. ISSN 1084-8770

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Identification Number: 10.1080/10848770.2017.1326672


From Herder to Benedict Anderson, language and nation have been at the centre of ideas about (imagined) community. This hypothesis, however, poses a problem for analysing ideas about Europe. How can we understand ‘Europe’ as a concept or form of identity when language and nationality are considered the foundation of imagined communities and loyalties? This article addresses this difficulty. It uses J. G. A. Pocock’s definition of ‘sub-languages’ to suggest that one can investigate the rhetorical strategies, images and vocabularies with which texts articulate ideas about Europe. These sub-languages evoke imagined communities, most obviously when texts name and identify particular groups of people as ‘Europeans’. But by using images and rhetorics about Europe, these texts also appeal to a readership who comprehends – even if it does not fully accept – certain assumptions about the continent. In this way, texts evoke an imagined community of readers who purportedly share a similar way of understanding Europe, or who can perhaps be persuaded to think about it in similar terms. These processes are historically particular, and so the article concludes with concrete examples. It focuses on how early nineteenth-century philhellenes evoke a European imagined community to solicit support for the Greek Revolution.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 International Society for the Study of European Ideas
Divisions: International History
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D901 Europe (General)
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2016 16:49
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2021 00:18

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