| Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy

IME: Identities and modernities in Europe

European and national identity construction programmes and politics, culture, history and religion

Project summary:

IME investigates European identities.

‘Who are we?’ is a perennial and a constantly relevant question in modern society. In IME, we explore a wide range of definitions of ‘us, the Europeans’ proposed and acted upon by various actors in Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

The question of European identities is particularly urgent in today’s society as the level of contestation regarding the identity of Europe has risen to a new height for a number of reasons, many of which are clearly related to the EU integration processes.  The familiar ‘EU democratic deficit’; low levels of citizen identification; the challenges to further deepening and increased opposition to further enlargement; and the advance of globalisation, have made the issue of European identities more salient.

Arising from this context, IME aims to provide synthetic and more comprehensive understanding of European identities lived and expressed by people of Europe and in particular to explore:

  • what are European identities?
  • in what ways they have been formed?
  • and what trajectories they may take from now on?

IME investigates the diversity and commonalities among European identities in the nine cases.  It examines the various ways in which diverse self-definitions have been formulated and maintained in different societal, cultural and systemic settings and how these may further interact as the process of European integration continues. In tackling these big issues, the project draws from the theory of multiple modernities and the ways in which religion, secularisation, rationalisation and material progress has been experienced in these nine European countries.  IME therefore examines not only the role of the state and the EU but also that of a range of non-state actors in identity construction processes with a particular focus on the role of religion.

Based on these concerns, IME sets out to test the following three main hypotheses:

  • European identities are not a top-down affair.  They are products of interaction among competing programmes of identity construction and maintenance proposed by various actors;
  • The diversity of European identities can be explained by one of or a combination of following dimensions: the type of state, dominant religious heritage, material development and geo-political historical legacies;
  • Commonalities in European identities will be found along cultural groupings such as the civilisational constellations.

The project therefore has the following objectives:

  • To map the diversity of European identities across the cases studied in relation to four factors: type of state, type of religion, the strength of civil society and geo-historical and geo-political background;
  • To analyse in each case how European identities have evolved within the specific historical context in relation to other forms of identification, especially national identity;
  • To investigate the role of the EU integration processes in modifying the contemporary identities, especially in its relationship to national and religio-ethnic identities;
  • To examine the extent to which religio-ethnic minorities influence identity construction programmes of the majority, and their unique contribution to the articulation of European identities;
  • To seek commonalities in European identities across the cases by way of systematic comparisons;
  • To test the validity of theory of multiple modernities as a sound basis for projecting the trajectory of the future of European identities

The Consortium


  • Kingston University
  • Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)
  • Helsinki University
  • Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques (Sciences Po)
  • University of Duisburg-Essen
  • The Institute for Ethnic and National Minority Studies at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations (IMIR)
  • Istanbul Bilgi University
  • University of Zagreb

: 1st May 2009 – 30 April 2012
Project contract number: SSH-CT-2009-215949
Project co-ordinator: Dr. Atsuko Ichijo, Senior Researcher in European Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University London

For more information visit the Project website.

Partner for ELIAMEP
, Athens, Greece:

Dr. Anna Triandafyllidou, Senior Research Fellow ELIAMEP

Dr. Ruby Gropas, Research Fellow ELIAMEP

Hara Kouki, Research Assistant

Funded by the European Commission Research DG, FP7, Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH)



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