Transnationalism as an Index to Construct European Identities: an Analysis of ‘Transeuropean’ Discourses

Cover Page

Cite item


Transnationalism is a multifaceted phenomenon which has impacted on society and challenged, inter alia, the paradigm of national affiliations. The trasnationalisation of the EU-ropean field has arguably contributed to a political arena where embryonic post-national identities and new forms of belonging are being negotiated, challenged and legitimized. By investigating the discourses of members of a transnational NGO of ‘active’ citizens, this paper seeks to understand how current European identities are discursively constructed from bottom up in the public sphere. Appropriating CDA this paper offers insights into how discursive strategies and linguistic devices used by the speakers, and predicated on the indexicality of transnational frames, construct Europe and patterns of belonging to it. This paper suggests different conceptual dimensions of transnationalism enacted by members in discourse which are conveniently summarised as: nation-centric, Euro-centric, and cosmopolitan.

About the authors

Franco Zappettini

University of Genoa

Author for correspondence.
5 Via Balbi, 16126 Genoa, Italy


  1. Albert, M. (2001) Identities, Borders, Orders: Rethinking International Relations Theory, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press
  2. Anderson, B. (2006) Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, New York, Verso
  3. Appadurai, A. (1995) The production of locality. In Fardon, R. (ed.) Counterworks: Managing the Diversity of Knowledge. London; New York: Routledge
  4. Balibar, E. (2004) We, the People of Europe?: Reflections on Transnational Citizenship, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press
  5. Balibar, E. (2009) Europe as borderland. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 27, 190-215
  6. Bauböck, R. & Faist, T. (2010) Diaspora and Transnationalism: Concepts, Theories and Methods, Amsterdam University Press
  7. Beck, U. (1996) The Cosmopolitanism Manifesto. In Brown, G. W. & Held, D. (eds.) The Cosmopolitanism Reader. Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA: Polity
  8. Beck, U. (2008) The cosmopolitan perspective: sociology of the second age of modernity. The British Journal of Sociology, 51, 79-105
  9. Beck, U., Giddens, A. & Lash, S. (1994) Reflexive modernization: politics, tradition and aesthetics in the modern social order. Stanford, Calif., Stanford University Press
  10. Biebuyck, W. & Rumford, C. (2011) Many Europes: Rethinking multiplicity. European Journal of Social Theory, 15, 3-20
  11. Billig, M. (1995) Banal Nationalism, London, Sage
  12. Blommaert, J. (2013) Citizenship, language and superdiversity: towards complexity Tilburg Papers in Cultural Studies Univesrity of Tilburg, February 2013
  13. Castells, M. (1997) End of Millenium. Malden, Mass., Blackwell
  14. Cerutti, F. & Lucarelli, S. (2008) The search for a European identity: values, policies and legitimacy of the European Union. Abingdon, UK; New York, Routledge
  15. Checkel, J.T. & Katzenstein, P.J. (2009) European Identity, Cambridge University Press
  16. Chilton, P. (2004) Analysing political discourse: theory and practice. London; New York, Routledge
  17. Closa, C. (2001) Requirements of a European Public Sphere. Civil Society, Self, and the Institutionalization of Citizenship. In Eder, K. & Giesen, B. (eds.) European Citizenship between National Legacies and Postnational Projects. Oxford, UK; New York: Oxford University Press
  18. Davies, B. & Harre´, R. (2001) Positioning: The Discursive Production of Selves. In Wetherell, M., Taylor, S. & Yates, S.J. (eds.) Discourse Theory and Practice: A Reader. London: Thousand Oaks: Sage: SAGE Publications
  19. Debardeleben, J.H.A. (2011) Transnational Europe: promise, paradox, limits. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK; New York, Palgrave Macmillan
  20. Delanty, G. (2013) Formations of European Modernity: A Historical and Political Sociology of Europe. Palgrave Macmillan
  21. Delanty, G. & Rumford, C. (2005) Rethinking Europe: Social Theory and the Implications of Europeanization. Abingdon, Oxford, Routledge
  22. Della Porta, D. & Tarrow, S. G. (2005) Transnational protest and global activism. Lanham, MD, Rowman & Littlefield
  23. Eder, K. (2009) A Theory of Collective Identity - Making Sense of the Debate on a ‘European Identity’ European Journal of Social Theory, 12, 427-447
  24. Eriksen, E.O. & Fossum, J.E. (2001) Democracy through strong publics in the European Union? ARENA Working Paper, 01/16
  25. Fairclough, N., Mulderrig, J. & WODAK, R. (1997) Critical Discourse Analysis. In Dijk, T.A.V. (ed.) Discourse studies: a multidisciplinary introduction. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications
  26. Fairclough, N. & Wodak, R. (1997) 'Critical Discourse Analysis', in T. van Dijk (ed.) Introduction to Discourse Analysis
  27. Fligstein, N. (2008) Euroclash: The EU, European Identity, and the Future of Europe: The EU, European Identity, and the Future of Europe. Oxford, Oxford University Press
  28. Friedman, R. & Thiel, M. (2012) European Identity and Culture: Narratives of Transnational Belongings. Farnham, Ashgate
  29. Habermas, J. (2001) The postnational constellation political essays. Cambridge, Mass.; London, MIT Press
  30. Habermas, J. & Rehg, W. (1998) Between facts and norms: contributions to a discourse theory of law and democracy. Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press
  31. Hall, S. (1996a) The Question of Cultural Identity. In Hall, S., Held, D., Hubert, D. & Thompson, K. (eds.) Modernity: an introduction to modern societies. Blackwell
  32. Hall, S. (1996b) Who needs identity? In: Hall, S. & Du Gay, P. (eds.) Questions of cultural identity. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage
  33. Hall, S. (1997) Representation: cultural representations and signifying practices. London; thousand Oaks, Calif., Sage in association with the Open University
  34. Haller, W.L.P. (2005) The transnational dimensions of identity formation: Adult children of immigrants in Miami. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28, 1182-1214
  35. Hanks, W. F. (1999) Indexicality. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 9, 124-126
  36. Hannerz, U. (1996) Transnational Connections: Culture, People, Places. London; New York, Taylor & Francis Group
  37. Hanquinet, L. & Savage, M. (2013) The Europeanisation of Everyday Life: Cross-Border Practices and Transnational Identifications among EU and Third-Country Citizens. Eucross working papers series, 6
  38. Held, D. (1999) Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture. Stanford University Press
  39. Herrmann, R.K., Risse-Kappen, T. & Brewer, M.B. (2004) Transnational identities: becoming European in the EU. Oxford, Rowman & Littlefield
  40. Hobsbawm, E. (1997) Nations and nationalism since 1780: programme, myth, reality. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
  41. Jenkins, R. (2004) Social Identity, Routledge
  42. Johnstone, B. (2013) Speaking Pittsburghese : the story of a dialect, New York, Oxford University Press
  43. Jones, P. & Krzyżanowski, M. (2008) Identity, belonging and migration: Beyond Describing 'Others'. In: Delanty, G., Wodak, R. & Jones, P. (eds.) Identity, belonging and migration. Liverpool Liverpool University Press
  44. Kaiser, W.L.B. G. M. (2010) Transnational networks in regional integration: governing Europe 1945-83. New York, Palgrave Macmillan
  45. Kaplan, D. (1979) On the logic of demonstratives. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 8, 81-98
  46. Kastoryano, R. (2003) Transnational Participation and Citizenship Immigrants in the European Union. The Challenges of Immigration and Integration in the European Union and Australia, 18-20 February 2003, University of Sydney
  47. Kastoryano, R.H.B. (2002) Negotiating identities, Princeton, Princeton University Press
  48. Kraus, P. (2006) Legitimacy, Democracy and Diversity in the European Union. International Journal of Multicultural Societies, 8, 203-224
  49. Krzyżanowski, M. (2010) The Discursive Construction of European Identities: A Multi-level Approach to Discourse and Identity in the Transforming European Union, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang
  50. Levitt, P. & Schiller, N.G. (2004) Conceptualizing Simultaneity: A Transnational Social Field Perspective on Society. International Migration Review, 38, 1002-1039
  51. Lyotard, J.F. & Benjamin, A.E. (1989) The Lyotard reader. Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Mass., USA, Blackwell
  52. Marcussen, M. & Roscher, K. (2010) Europe and the Other and Europe as the Other. In Stråth, B. (ed.) The Social Construction of "Europe": Life-cycles of Nation-State Identities in France, Germany and Great Britain. Brussels: Peter Lang
  53. Mcentee-Atalianis, L. & Zappettinl, F. (2014) Networked Identities. Critical Discourse Studies, 11, 397-415
  54. Mole, R.C.M. (2007) Discursive constructions of identity in European politics. Palgrave Macmillan
  55. Morin, J.F. & Carta, C. (2014) EU Foreign Policy through the Lens of Discourse Analysis: Making Sense of Diversity. Aldershot; Farnham, Ashgate
  56. Oberhuber, F. (2007) Legitimating the European Union: The Contested Meanings of an EU Constitution. EUI Working Papers RCAS 2007 [Online], 25. Available at: RSCAS/WP-Texts/07_25.pdf
  57. Renkema, J. (2004) Introduction to Discourse Studies. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins
  58. Risse, T. (2010) A Community of Europeans?: Transnational Identities and Public Spheres. Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press
  59. Robertson, R. (1992) Globalization: social theory and global culture. London Sage
  60. Roudometof, V. (2005) Transnationalism, Cosmopolitanism and Glocalization. Current Sociology, 53, 113-135
  61. Rumford, C. (2008) Cosmopolitan Spaces: Europe, Globalization, Theory. New York, Routledge
  62. Rumford, C. (2011) Editorial: New Perspectives on Turkey-EU Relations. Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 19, 459-462
  63. Salvatore, A., Schmidtke, O. & Trenz, H.J. (2013) Struggling with the Concept of a Public Sphere. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
  64. Sassen, S. (1996) Losing Control?: Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization. Columbia University Press
  65. Shani, G. (2011) Identity-politics in the global age. In: Elliott, A. (ed.) Routledge handbook of identity studies. Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge
  66. Silverstein, M. (2003) Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. Language and Communication, 23, 193-229
  67. Splichal, S. (2006) In search of a strong European public sphere: some critical observations on conceptualizations of publicness and the (European) public sphere. Media, Culture & Society, 28, 695-714
  68. Standing, G. (2011) The precariat the new dangerous class. London; New York, NY, Bloomsbury Academic
  69. Stråth, B. (2010) Europe and the Other and Europe as the Other. Frankfurt am Mein, Peter Lang
  70. Tajfel, H. & Turner, J. (1979) An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict. In Austin, W.G. & Worchel, S. (eds.) The Social psychology of intergroup relations. The University of Michigan: Brooks/Cole Pub. Co
  71. Triandafyllidou, A., Wodak, R. & Krzyżanowski, M. (2009) The European public sphere and the media: Europe in crisis. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
  72. Vertovec, S. (1999) Conceiving and researching transnationalism. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22, 447-462
  73. Vertovec, S. (2009) Transnationalism. Oxford; New York, Taylor & Francis
  74. Wimmer, A. & Schiller Glick, N. (2002) Methodological nationalism and beyond: nation-state building, migration and the social sciences. Global networks, 2, 301-34
  75. Wodak, R. (2004) National and Transnational identities: European and Other Identities Constructed in Interviews with EU Officials. In Herrmann, R.K., Risse-Kappen, T. & Brewer, M.B. (eds.) Transnational identities: becoming European in the EU. Rowman & Littlefield
  76. Wodak, R. (2009) The discourse-historical approach In Wodak, R. & Meyer, M. (eds.) Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis (2nd Edition). London: Sage
  77. Wodak, R. (2012) Reinventing nationalism: recontextualising traditional themes in glocal politics First International Conference on the Discourse of Identity. Santiago de Compostela
  78. Wodak, R., De Cillia, R., Reisigl, M. & Liebhart, K. (2009) The discursive construction of national identity. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press
  79. Wodak, R. & Koller, V. (2008) Handbook of Communication in the Public Sphere. Berlin; New York, Mouton De Gruyter
  80. Wodak, R. & Weiss, G. (2005) Analyzing European Union discourses: Theories and applications In Wodak, R. & Chilton, P. (eds.) A New Agenda in (Critical) Discourse Analysis: Theory, Methodology and Interdisciplinarity. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins
  81. Zappettini, F. & Comanaru, R. (2014) “Bottom-Up Perspectives on Multilingual Ideologies In The EU: The Case Of A Transnational NGO” Journal of Contemporary European Research, 10

Copyright (c) 2017 Zappettini F.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies