Transforming identities in Europe: Bulgaria and Macedonia between nationalism and Europeanization

Nancheva, N. 2012. Transforming identities in Europe: Bulgaria and Macedonia between nationalism and Europeanization. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages

TitleTransforming identities in Europe: Bulgaria and Macedonia between nationalism and Europeanization
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsNancheva, N.

This dissertation offers an investigation of the discursive function of national identity in the project of European integration. Its focus is the discursive dynamics created in the context of European Union Enlargement to the former communist states, and its geographical locus is the Balkan region. Exploring the transformations of national identity narratives in two Balkan states – Bulgaria and Macedonia – the analysis aims to uncover the discursive mechanisms of accommodating national identity in the process of empowering Europeanization.

In the theoretical and meta-theoretical frame of poststructuralist discourse theory and within the structure of a small-number comparative case study, the investigation selects six narrative groups. They are centred around key elements in the narration of national identity: nationhood, territory, purpose, statehood, language, minorities. Traditionally interpreted within the hegemony of nationalism, these elements are identifiable in the national identity constructs of both of the studied states. Using qualitative methodology based on discourse analysis, the empirical study traces variations in these narratives in the course of the democratic transition and the preparation for EU membership at the macro level – the state. The purpose of the investigation is to reveal the logic of reading national identity within the empowering discourse of Europeanization.

The findings demonstrate that the discursive space of the European project upholds a positive, emancipatory, optimistic vision of national subjectivity. Marginalizing antagonistic interpretations of national identity narrated in the discourse of nationalism, Europeanization reveals the potential to significantly increase the credibility of national identity as a source of collective self-iden tification at the level of the state. This can stabilize the discursive space of European integration and ensure the political relevance of the European project. Where nationalist readings of identity succeed in challenging the hegemony of Europeanization, national identity appears more antagonistic and less compatible with the progress of integration in Europe. In this sense reading national identity emerges as the touchstone of the integration project.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
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