Europe and the Other

 

When Corneliu Zelea Codreanu formed the Romanian Fascist movement in 1927 under the guise of the Legion of Archangel Michael it indoctrinated a generation of young Romanian men into a space that they took ownership over. The process codified a ‘mens club’ that would articulate the rules of a new Romanian man while satisfying the need for belonging; a new nation, as Roger Griffin has argued, was birthed through these ‘new’ men. The movements for newness have a long history of supporting Fascist regimes throughout Europe and have been used to attract those left vulnerable to uncertainty to an ultra-nationalist cause.

Groups of people have been defined by who they are not; incorporating histories across times and spaces into re-remembered ideals that constitute the public memory, take root in the discourse of the public domain, and crystalize the identity of European states and folks positioned within them.  As Fatima El-Tayeb wrote, “through the process of civilizing the East, the West defines itself, creating an internal coherence impossible to achieve without the external Other”. Those who exist outside the tangible population and are not ‘proper Europeans,’ as El-Tayeb termed them, and the existence of the so called ‘not proper’ Europeans gives credence to a uniformed European-ness.

Those on the periphery of the mass population are forced to internalize the established rules of the ‘new’ order or exist beyond it. In context of sexuality, this is what Lisa Duggan calls homonormativity: “internalizing a conceptualization of LGBT identity that constructs legitimacy and rights along established lines, challenging neither the exclusion of those who do not or cannot play by the rules”. In context of race, it is an invitation for individuals of color to be one of ‘them’ however, as educator Gloria Wekker described whether those of color opt in or do not ‘they’ are never one of ‘them’.

Normativity is a privilege of white liberals submitting to western doctrine and not only ignoring but taking aim at the Others who remain on the periphery. El-Tayeb, notes that white gay men can often be part of the established ‘new order’ order through participation in the ‘creative’ economy. Yet their participation is accepting that those groups beyond the ‘proper’ population, such as Muslims, are an active opposition to the established order. As white gay men align with liberal western doctrine, they sanction the use of homophobia as a theoretical attack against those on the periphery i.e. Muslim populations.

Those on the periphery are “pulled between two paradoxical civilizations, as Nilüfer Göle wrote building on the work of Samuel Huntington. While modernity is reserved for the west the Others are placed in an artificial chronotype: an alternative positioning of time and space. Confronting this positionality may revel how hollow the alliances that gave rise to ‘new men’ and ‘new’ order really are and reposition diverse gay or Muslim or Othered groups from the periphery.

 

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