BEHIND THE LIMES: ON THE QUEST FOR AN EASTERN DIMENSION OF EUROPEAN IDENTITY
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Although the integration processes in Western Europe have been studied for decades, the idea of European identity as a specific area of scholarship is relatively new. This interest coincides with fundamental changes that have occurred in Europe since 1989 and that may impact the internal coherence of the enlarged European Union. Over the past decades, the East-West dichotomy has been magnified due to the impact of Communism in the East, which exacerbated an already existent sense in the West of Eastern Europe's primordial otherness. Since four decades of Communism in East Central and Southern Europe produced only two, or at most, three generations that were raised and lived under a totalitarian regime, a long-term historical perspective is essential for a better understanding of the mutual estrangement. The paper examines the origins and key moments in the alienation of Eastern and Western Europe as reflected in ancient, medieval and modern history. It focuses on the present stage of perception of East Central Europe in the West. In the final part, it identifies societal values that may re-generate socio-cultural cohesiveness aimed at filling the gap between the two parts of Europe.
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