In the postwar aftermath of Hitler’s genocidal imperial conquests, the “European” community sought to rebuild, and even redefine, itself. As the historian Mark Mazower has duly pointed out, “after 1945, democracy re-emerged in the West, revitalized by the challenge of war against Hitler” and, equally as significant, “newly conscious of its social responsibilities.” Indeed, the post-war decades witnessed not only the “re-discovery” of Liberal Democracy in much of Western Europe, but also the emergence of welfare state programs (NHS), a common marketplace (EEC), and the emergence of what might be referred to as a pan-European consciousness. However, this is not to say that the Continent was without its problems. To the contrary, as students will learn in this course, the forty or so years between the founding of the United Nations and the collapse of the Soviet Union were witness to a variety of tumultuous, challenging, and destabilizing events and dynamics, including the rigidification of Cold War continental politics, the rising influence of and backlash against “Americanization,” anti-colonial liberation struggles in many of Europe’s (former) colonies, and the emergence of new ideologically-informed social and political movements, including the New Left, Second Wave Feminism, as well as punk rock and hip hop. It was between these extremes of progress and struggle, this course will contend, where contemporary “Europe,” with its complex hues and textures, was truly born. In addition to studying the post-World war II through post-Cold War years, students will be guided through the two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with special emphasis on the myriad socio-political challenges facing the European Union today, including the deepening impacts of neoliberal economics, the emergence of New Right (including neo-fascist) movements and political parties, and the challenges being posed by mass migration from many of the Continent’s former colonial spheres.
* Available upon request.