Europe’s Lost Memory and Ongoing Struggle with Identity

Cameron Sen

This week’s readings highlighted recent and ongoing issues occurring within Europe, that have of resulted in the targeting of minorities, notably Muslims, LGBTQ+ individuals, and Migrants within European society. Many of these issues, at least from a personal observation, can be easily correlated back to a collective memory which the far-right in Europe has been able to shape, that showcases an abillty to manipulate the past.

As defined by Dan Stone collective memory refers to “the images and representations of the past that circulate in society and shape a group’s self image.” As Stone points out, countries such as Poland and Hungary and their collective responses to the lessons of the Second World War showcase what happens when collective memory is interpreted in a context that fails to properly acknowledge the past. These misinterpreted narratives have allowed for far-right populists to further a message that aligns with the present societal or geo-political challenges or crisis of the times, which has enabled for ”othering” to happen. Is it really any surprise why both these two respective countries have instilled policy’s which has coincided with the targeting of societal groups such as Immigrants and LQBTQ+ individuals?

This abillty to shape collective memory and manipulate the past equally showcases how much influence America has had on shaping the present-day identity of European countries. This is incredibly apparent through Turkey’s attempt to change the dynamic of race, and what it means to be a “Black” Turk vs being a “White” Turk. Such attempt by the country to redefined what is means to be what, trying to instil a message of societal elite’s vs the common, underrepresented working class, showcase just how much power and how the attempt to re-write a narrative as an anti-colonialist player, can be directly traced back to American influenced narratives. Even the Qanon popularity throughout countries such as German and France, has showcased the abillty for American inspired beliefs to shape the identity of Europe’s overall self.

Ultimately, no matter what the country, regardless of the specific target, the abillty by far-right movements to reinforce a false sense collective memory on European society looks set to further continue societal division. Until this is changed, Europe will seemingly continue to struggle with its overall sense of identity.

Staining the beautiful game: Why Italy’s far-right resurgence is allowing racism to remain engraved in Italian football

Cameron Sen

Combatting issues of racism in football cotninues to be an ongoing challnege, but in Italy, this fight seems to be making a turn for the worse and the far-right is to blame

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly (in red) with stadium authorities, attempting to idenitfiy those partaking in racist chanting. The Sengalese defender took to social media after the club’s 2-1 victory at Fiorentina, calling for action to be taken, after he was called a “F****** monkey” by ultra supproters

Fascism and Perception

C. Sen

Perception plays an essential role in understanding history, especially as it relates to fascism and far-right populism. The readings this week highlighted various elements that have occurred throughout history surrounding how fascism is perceived, interpreted, and supported. In each of the readings, each author/journalist highlights the differing elements from one’s perception of fascism differs.

In Thomas Kühne article, we are presented with the various aspects that formed a masculine Nazi soldier’s identity. shown how the perception of the idealistic masculine Nazi solder influenced and ultimately “allowed different types of soldier-men to establish male identities.”

In “Blue Angels: Female Fascist Resisters, Spies and Intelligence Officials in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–9.”, the article highlighting the key roles that Spanish women played in facilitating espionage rings and helping prisoners escape from Spanish jails. Despite these key contributions, the piece noted that Franco and the Spanish government diminished women’s role during the civil war as “women were not considered as dangerous, and certainly not as intelligent, as men, and they supposedly could not create or run espionage networks.”

Throughout all the listed examples, one lasting impression remains with me, that fascism’s deep routed appeal, critical messaging, and presentation of ideas and beliefs rests within the eyes of the beholder. Perception shapes the connection and potential influence on an individual’s thoughts and sentiments. 

Franco in 1966 (Credit to the New York Times)

It is also worth noting that perception can be quite contradictory, differing, and hypocritical. This, I personally find, was best exemplified within Vices’s Fascist Franco’s Foreign Friends. When reporter Carla Parmenter questions Chen, the Chinese-Spanish immigrant, owner of a restaurant that pays homage to Franco, she quickly points out how Franco’s policies and practices would not have allowed immigrants like himself to live a life that he presently does. Chen quickly shuts down this idea that his life would have been any different, stating that “nobody lived badly” during Franco’s rule, with de Groot, the main subject of this piece, furthering this flawed message, saying that immigrants would have been allowed and appreciated by Franco. These two entirely factually incorrect statements by both men illustrate the depths that perceptions of fascist ideals are interpreted, misrepresented, and construed by individuals to support a message that caters to their individual interests and beliefs.

To conclude, the understanding of fascism and fascist beliefs can be interpreted and portrayed in many different manners. Ultimately, the readings illustrate the critical fact that perception and historical reality are distinct, separate entities.

Works Cited

Carla Parmenter, “Dutch Franquista” Vice Fringes, https://video.vice.com/en_uk/video/vice-dutch-franquista/5f5b98a20c4ad6583d018ee6.

Thomas Kühne, “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich” Central European History Vol 51, Issue 3 (September 2018): 390-418.

Sofía Rodríguez López and Antonio Cazorla Sánchez. “Blue Angels: Female Fascist Resisters, Spies and Intelligence Officials in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–9.” Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 53, no. 4, (Oct. 2018), pp. 692–713.

Introduction: Cameron Sen

Hello everyone! My name is Cameron Sen, but most of my friends call me Cam, so feel free to call me whatever is easier for you; I am not too picky. I am entering the 4th year of my undergrad in legal studies with a concentration in Business Law, and I am also minoring in History.

Since coming to Carleton, outside of my law classes, I have taken an interest in Russian History and European History to a lesser degree. I took this class primarily to better understand the various factors far-right populism has had in shaping the current political state of Europe. With that being said, I am really interested in knowing and understanding the trends that have enabled far-right leaders from various European countries to gain/maintain power. I am also keen to learn the effects and influence that populism movements have had on respective European societies as a whole.

Outside of school, I am a massive sports fan. Whether it is hockey, soccer, football, baseball, basketball, F1 racing, I am borderline obsessed with many aspects of the world of sport. Sports aside, I also like to run, listen to music (in particular 90s and 2000s alternative rock) and look at memes.

Wishing everyone a great first semester!