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New book offers clarity on turbid European identities

By Patrick Nelson

Professor Wayne Cristaudo … “a cultural idea rather than a geographical fact” Professor Wayne Cristaudo … “a cultural idea rather than a geographical fact”

A Charles Darwin University academic has pieced together the puzzle of Europe in a new book that resolves complex questions about the diversity of its states, nations and peoples.

Professor of Political Science Wayne Cristaudo co-edited “European National Identities”, a text that explores the values, traumas and myths that have shaped the different and sometimes incompatible identities of individual European countries.

“One must look beyond the continental and geographical borders to establish what makes Europe, Europe,” Professor Cristaudo said.

“Its people, its history, its cultures and its civilizational heritage are much better reference points for understanding what is essentially a cultural idea rather than a geographical fact.

“In reality there are multiple national identities in Europe that all contain common elements of a shared European cultural and civilizational heritage.”

Professor Cristaudo said he was interested in the evolving interplay between events, issues and identity shifts, which unfold in the chapter he penned on Britain.

He writes: “Today Britain is riven between an Old and New version of itself.

“Old Britain is, in the main, white, nostalgic for empire, constituted by expected roles that illustrate class distinctions, decently and unfanatically Christian or agnostic, high-minded Tory or Methodist-like socialist, well mannered, and the repository of traditional British virtues of the stiff upper lip …

“By contrast, new Britain, is multi-coloured, multicultural and multi-identity, socially and political involved, aligned in blocks and tribes, potentially devolutionary, regretful of its imperial and Christian past, Noddy without Golliwog, because Golliwog is a patronising and offensive representation of black people.”

A prolific author with 16 books and journal issues to his name, Professor Cristaudo said the book would be particularly relevant to students and academics in the human sciences, but also to a general audience.

“It will hold appeal for anyone with an interest in European politics and history, and more broadly for anyone interested in the effect that events and issues have on immediate or distant neighbours, even as far away as Australia,” he said.