A postcolonial critique of EU–Middle East relations

Authored by: Somdeep Sen

Routledge Handbook of EU–Middle East Relations

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367330767
eBook ISBN: 9780429317873
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter is not about the European Union per se. It is, however, about the “idea” of Europe as a force for good in international politics that informs the very being of the European Union and shapes its external relations with the Middle East. Terming this a “postcolonial critique” of EU–Middle East relations, this chapter is very much inspired by postcolonial studies’ conception of contemporary international relations as an outgrowth of hierarchies, discursive and material, between the Global North (the location of the coloniser) and the Global South (the “home” of the colonised), established under the guise of European empires. Subsequently, it demonstrates how the same hierarchies shaped the establishment of the European Union and the nature of its external relations, not least with the Middle East. But these hierarchies are not just a matter of history. They also have contemporary implications, and the chapter ends by exploring how the European Union’s self-conception as a force for good animates both the discursive manner in which it describes itself vis-a-vis the Middle East as well as the material nature of EU–Middle East relations.

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