Our guest, Dr. Kaius Tuori is a legal historian and the director of EuroStorie Centre of Excellence. He explains the beginning of the EuroStorie project as something that came about through the collaboration of people at the Erik Castrén Institute. From the beginning it was clear that the research project had to be multi-disciplinary, and therefore it now hosts people with backgrounds in history, philosophy and anthropology, which all reflect Tuori’s own interests as well.
EuroStorie is a mix of both contemporary and historical narratives of Europe. Traditionally, European studies have tended to focus on the “official narrative” of Europe, that of the EU bureaucrats and politicians, but EuroStorie wants to take another perspective. The project wants to look at how “ordinary” people, for example English miners and blue-collar workers, talk about Europe. Another important aspect is researching how the continent is viewed from the outside, by for example migrants striving to reach Europe.
"We want to look at how the official European narrative resonates in the outside world," Tuori summarizes.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought to the fore a debate that has been dominant in many of the crises that have shaken Europe throughout the 20th century: the one of rule of law, states of emergency and the limits of constitutionalism. Tuori remarks that although the word “unprecedented” is often used in cases like this, the crisis itself is not really unprecedented. Europe has faced vast more serious crises that can be seen both as unifying and separating forces. Through history, the European integration has been created during crises. Tuori mentions that for example the European human rights institutions were created in the 1940s by people who had witnessed and done terrible things, yet decided they had to do something in order to not repeat those atrocities.
"What will be the European response? Is the crisis going to strengthen our solidarity or erode it?"
For a long time, European identity has shaped itself in relation to the United States. On one hand, US federalism has been taken as a source of inspiration and comparison for the European project. On the other, Europeans have opposed US political culture and interference in European affairs. Tuori has some views about how the relationship has affected Europe’s self-understanding, but is careful to give a definite answer to how it will evolve in the future.
The US has since WWII been a booster of European integration. But since the fall of the Soviet Union, there has been a time for an independence movement for Europe. It has allowed Europe a moment of growth and an opportunity to define itself in relation to the American big brother. “In a way, America is us, but they have become very different. The question is, how did they become so different? And what can we and should we learn from America?” Tuori ponders.
References in the episode:
Does Europe really dictate the size of cucumbers? / Fact Check EU, 13 March 2019
Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie: The Danger of A Single Story / TED-talk, 2009
Fishing Presents a Vexing Snag in Brexit Talks / The New York Times, 15 March 2020
Douglas Adams: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (book & movie)
The guest of the first episode, Dr. Kaius Tuori is the director of subproject 1, Law and the Uses of the Past. He is an Professor of European Intellectual History at the University of Helsinki. He is a scholar of legal history involved in research projects on the understanding of tradition, culture, identity, memory and the uses of the past. He is also the director of the ERC-granted research project Law, Governance and Space: Questioning the Foundations of the Republican Tradition (SpaceLaw).
Dr. Paolo Amorosa the host of the EuroStorie podcast. He is a post-doctoral researcher in subproject 1, Law and the Uses of the Past. He has a background in international law, law and religion, and legal theory. His research deals primarily with the history of international law and human rights in the twentieth century.
Bea Bergholm is the host of the podcast. She has a Master's Degree in Social Sciences (social and cultural anthropology) and works as a project planner at the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives. She is interested in human rights issues, environmental justice and sustainable development.
Episode no: 1
Release date: 26 June 2020
Recording: ArtLab Helsinki
Audio elements: Antonio Lopez Garcia
Banner photo: Unsplash/Jakob Braun
Text: Bea Bergholm
Banner: Tuomas Heikkilä