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UCL European Institute



Brexit and empire: a long-term view

Can a long-term and comparative understanding of the nature of imperial identities shed light on some of the dynamics behind Brexit? The ways in which empires – and their collapse – transform their central regions as much as the colonies constitute a significant part of the story, argues Andrew Gardner, summarising an article recently published in the Journal of Social Archaeology.
Andrew Gardner (Institute of Archaeology)
20 February 2017

Starts: Feb 20, 2017 12:00:00 AM

The government's Brexit white paper: a missed opportunity

Nicholas Wright from the UCL School of Public Policy analyses the government's recent White Paper on Brexit.
Nicholas Wright (SPP)
17 February 2017

Starts: Feb 17, 2017 12:00:00 AM

The process of Brexit: What comes next?

In a new report published jointly by the UCL Constitution Unit and the UCL European Institute, Alan Renwick,  Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit, examines what the process of Brexit is likely to look like over the coming weeks, months, and years. Here he summarises five key lessons.
Alan Renwick (Constitution Unit)
8 February 2017

Starts: Feb 1, 2017 12:00:00 AM

UCL European Institute

Recent research projects

Browse the below for some selected examples of some of Research Grants awarded to UCL faculty in the past years. While far from complete, these will give you an insight into the breadth and scope of UCL's expertise in the field of European Studies broadly conceived.

Asymmetrical Encounters: Digital Humanities Approaches to Reference Cultures in Europe, 1815–1992

How did the large and cultural powerful countries Britain, France, and Germany influence public debates in smaller countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg?

Cultural historians and digital humanists at UCL and the universities of Utrecht and Trier will address this question in the new research project Asymmetrical Encounters: E-Humanity Approaches to Reference Cultures in Europe, 1815–1992, for which they have been awarded a grant of €1 million by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area). In the UK, Ulrich Tiedau (UCL Dutch/Digital Humanities) will be the Principal Investigator.

Summary: This project proposes, firstly, that the emergence of trans-national reference cultures was one of the most significant consequences of cultural encounters within the European framework between 1815 and 1992, and, secondly, that these encounters were asymmetrical. In this project, we investigates how these reference cultures, defined as spatially and temporally identifiable cultures that offer a model to other cultures, have been established in public debates. The availability of large digital data collections enables us for the first time to study long-term developments and transformations of such cultural imaginaries in a systematic, longitudinal, and quantifiable way. This allows us to chart the regional and national public discourses in which collective frames of orientation and cultural cross-referencing to European "others" have been established. The project thus explores how public discourses about reference cultures contributed to the formation of communities, from local to trans-national, and thus foster adherence or resistance to particular versions of “Europe”

With this project, we strive to accomplish three related objectives: a. explore the concept of reference cultures as a way to understand asymmetrical cultural encounters within Europe; b. develop a digital humanities demonstrator to map and analyse the vectors of asymmetrical encounters in European public debates; and c. build an interdisciplinary consortium of three European research centres around the crosscultural study of printed media in Europe by means of multilingual text mining.

For this project, we use the innovative digital humanities methodology of multi-lingual text mining to map the dynamics, intensity, and direction of intercultural references within European public discourse. Innovative semantic-text analytics will be applied to large corpora of digitized newspapers in the Benelux countries and the surrounding countries that served as reference cultures. The demonstrator will be applied to case studies in which regional, national, and European dimensions of cultural encounters are visible, such as references to European urban centres, mass media, and consumer products.

The Informal Politics of Co-Decision

Dr Christine Reh (UCL Political Science) has been awarded with Prof Adrienne Héritier (EUI) an ESRC Research Grant to examine the widespread trend in EU politics to shift legislative decision-making from public inclusive to restricted secluded arenas. The resulting “informalisation” of the political process is particularly prominent in the EU’s co-decision procedure, where a growing proportion of legislative acts is pre-agreed informally between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers - and subsequently adopted at first reading. While co-decision was introduced to make EU decision-making more inclusive, accountable and transparent, this procedure has instead increased seclusion from the electorate and from rank-and-file parliamentarians. Against this backdrop, the project seeks to examine to what extent and how informal politics are conducted, what the reasons for “fast-tracking” legislation are, and what the democratic consequences for EU decision-making are likely to be. Read more.

The Legitimacy and Authority of Supranational Human Rights Courts

Dr Basak Çali (UCL Political Science) is PI of a three-year ESRC-funded project on the legitimacy and authority of supranational human rights courts. It analyses the perception of the European Court of Human Rights in five political and legal contexts: the UK, Turkey, Germany, Bulgaria and Ireland. Further research in Strasbourg, the home of the European human rights system, supports the country analyses. The project thus provides a comparative, cross-sectional analysis of how the Court’s rulings are interpreted and implemented in domestic settings. Its findings aim to contribute to a new understanding of the role of institutions beyond the state, examine how the legitimacy of supranational institutions is built in national politics and how this affects compliance with supranational human rights decisions. Read more.

Managing Regulation – the European Dimensions

Prof David Coen (UCL Political Science) has been awarded with Prof Adrienne Héritier (EUI) an FP7 grant on “Managing Regulation - Politics, Economics and Global Governance: The European Dimensions”. The project analyses EU regulatory shopping of network companies in Telecommunications, Gas, Electric, Airline, and Rail. The study will map regulatory activity through a large survey of firms and in depth interviews with Regulatory Affairs directors and National and European Regulators. It builds on their successful 2005 book” Redefining Regulation in the EU”.

Sustainable Integrated Transport Options for Peripheral European Regions

Sintropher is a five-year research project with the aim of enhancing local and regional transport provision to, from and within five peripheral regions in North-West Europe. The emphasis is on sustainable, cost-effective solutions which make best use of existing transport infrastructure by applying innovative technologies. A key feature of the project is transnational cooperation. By working together, each region has the opportunity to benefit from knowledge transfer, joint problem-solving on economic and technological issues, exchange of experience, pilot projects and demonstration projects, and capitalising on best practice across the EU. Read more.

Innovation and Knowledge-Based Entrepreneurship in the EU

Professor Slavo Radosevic (SSEES) is working on the FP7 project “Innovation and Knowledge-Based Entrepreneurship as Links Between Knowledge, Economic Growth and Social Well-Being (AEGIS)”, in which UCL is one of the main partners. The project explores the relationships between knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth in the EU from a comparative perspective. A core aim of the project is to translate the analytical findings into diagnostic tools for country and sector specific assessments and into concrete and operational policy recommendations by taking into account the idiosyncrasies of different national/regional/sectoral systems of innovation within EU countries.

East European Travel Writing and the Invention of Europe

Dr Wendy Bracewell (SSEES) currently holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship that examines east European travel writing on Europe from the late 18th to the 21st century. Exploring the symbolic geographies of Europe developed in eastern Europe, the project also shows the uses to which these were put. Travel writing has served as one of the instruments by which east Europeans have imagined their place in Europe for both domestic and international readerships. But the genre does not just record perceptions of Europe - it was one of the main means by which east Europeans actively created images and discourses of Europe, used these to locate themselves and their societies, and attempted to mobilize support for social and political agendas. Reading travel accounts thus helps us understand not only what ‘being European’ has meant for eastern Europe, but also shows how Europe’s peripheries contributed to the processes of European self-invention.

Reverberations of War in Germany and Europe since 1945

Professor Mary Fulbrook (UCL German) has been awarded a 44-month AHRC Research Grant including two PhD studentships for a collaborative research project entitled “Reverberations of War: Communities of Experience and Identification in Germany and Europe since 1945". The project analyses reverberations of the Second World War across Europe through the Cold War and beyond, shedding new light on the complex legacies of war for generations of Europeans, and, through coordinated in-depth studies, developing a new theoretical approach. The project takes a broad European focus, going beyond the writing of parallel national histories by looking at the experience of war-related violence as a phenomenon transcending the (changing) borders of European states. It thus develops a deeper understanding of national discourses and specificities as well as discerning the European dimensions and relatedness of the various experiences and discourses.

Cultural Evolution of Neolithic Europe

Professor Stephen Shennan (UCL Archaeology) has recently been awarded an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant on how the study of cultural evolution can help explain patterns of stability and change in Neolithic Europe. A novel and high-profile interdisciplinary field, cultural evolutionary theory and method will here for the first time be integrated and applied to a large-scale case-study in pre-history, in order to examine the links between demographic, economic, social and cultural patterns and processes. In so doing, the project aims to provide the basis for a new account of the role of farming in transforming early European farming societies, c.6000-2000 calBC, focussing on the western half of Europe. The project will provide important new insights into the history of European society and give a significant impetus to re-orienting the disciplinary field of archaeology, making it part of the broader inter-disciplinary endeavour of evolutionary social science. Read more.

Strengthening Engagement in Public Health Research in Europe

Professor Mark McCarthy (UCL Population Health) is the coordinator and international contact for STEPS, a project to promote engagement of civil society organisations in public-health research, and improve quality of life for Europe’s citizens. This collaborative study, undertaken with financial support from the European Commission’s Science in Society programme, organises national workshops to bring civil society organisations in the public-health field into dialogue with researchers, institutes and national ministries. A particular focus falls on the EU’s new member states. A European conference will share this learning across European civil society organisations, and provide materials for further agenda-setting and international dissemination. STEPS will also contribute to structuring priorities for public-health research in member states and the Seventh Framework Research Programme, and to developing the European Research Area. Read more.