“Let us be Europeans!” Mis/performance and the Making of European Subjects
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This thesis argues that “Europeanness” is entangled with performance and examines cases where the question How to be European? is at stake. Such question is particularly noticeable in Europe’s peripheries and sites where politics overlap with the everyday life. Within the scope of this thesis three cases that take place in such liminal spaces are addressed. The first one is the project The European Capital of Culture, which is annual European Commission initiative to promote European culture globally by granting this title to a different European city each year. The case of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius as the European Capital of Culture, awarded the title in 2009, is examined. The second case where ‘Europeanness’ is at stake is the memoirs of the French diplomat Adolphe de Custine, written during his journey to Russia in the 19th century. They expose the Frenchman’s struggle to come at peace with obvious lack of “Europeanness” among the Russians in St. Petersburg. The final case is the installation Entropa by David Černý, which was exhibited in the headquarters of the EU Council in 2009. Europe as performance is examined by tackling three key concepts within performance studies – global performance, performativity and theatricality. Coupled with examined cases, these concepts expose that narratives of “Europeanness” challenge to consider questions of spectatorship, authenticity, subject construction, power relations, and knowledge production. The threads between performance and European identity reveal how narratives of “Europeanness” emerge and how they can be challenged. By foregrounding the relationship between performance and “Europeanness”, this thesis argues that European identity is constructed and therefore contingent. Misperformances of “Europeanness”, which mark all three addressed cases, aptly illustrate such argument.