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Feeling European: The Eurovision Song Contest and the European Public Sphere


The Third workshop of the Eurovision and the 'New Europe' research network, to be held in Dusseldorf during the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, 13-14 May 2011

If, as Luisa Passerini has argued, new types of European identification do not conflict with self-recognitions based on gender, age, and cultural belonging (2007), how does the ESC reflect and shape the sense of belonging to Europe that has emerged in the last twenty years? Multilateral, complex projects and events, such as the ESC, may be a way of creating a new European awareness and a force shaping a notion of European citizenship. We are interested in the role that affect and the ‘politics of emotion’ (Ahmed, 2004) plays in viewers’ affiliations to the ESC: in what ways do individual Contest acts, and the spectacle and gesture of the Contest as a whole, stimulate feelings and different levels of identification?

Stimulus questions:

- What are the synergies and contradictions between the idea of Europe as constructed by official EU discourses and programmes, and the idea of Europe as enacted by the ESC?

- To what extent could the ESC be seen as actively fostering a European public sphere? Does the ESC enhance the possibilities for effective public engagement and the formation of new publics and counter-publics (e.g. gay activists; Roma minorities across Europe, etc.)?

- How can current theorisations of affect help us to understand ESC voting practices, including ‘bloc’ voting between neighbouring countries; diasporic voting (that is, immigrants voting for their home nation); and grass-roots campaigns among minority (in particular, gay) communities, to support particular acts?