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Fifty shades of postcolonialism: exploring the normative background of the EU’s enlargement policy towards the Western Balkans

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Title: Fifty shades of postcolonialism: exploring the normative background of the EU’s enlargement policy towards the Western Balkans
Author(s): Heikkinen, Juulia
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Degree program: Master's Programme in European and Nordic Studies
Specialisation: Social Sciences
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2021
Enlargement is the most important foreign policy tool of the European Union. Beyond changing the geographical borders of the Union, enlargement also concerns EU’s self-other relations, bringing to the fore the definitions of “European” space, values and norms. Recent, critical approaches to European and EU studies have called scholars to pay attention to the colonial roots of the EU, arguing that EU as an agent in the global arena and its neighbourhood cannot be understood outside or separate from colonial discourses. Drawing from this perspective as well as from the rich literature on the Europe’s historical relation to East and the current accession states in the Balkans, this thesis asks (how) is the EU’s enlargement policy postcolonial. To explore, understand and critically assess the normative assumptions that are embedded in enlargement policies, this thesis uses post-structuralist discourse theory (PDT) and the logics approach by Jason Glynos and David Howarth (2007) that offers a more specific application of the PDT in empirical analysis. The analysis approaches four most recent EU enlargement policy papers from three angles: what is taken as granted (social logic), what is challenged or institutionalized (political logic) and how the policies are argued for (fantasmatic logic). The analysis in this thesis brings the postcolonial theoretical concepts into the context of enlargement policies and demonstrates the diversity of the forms in which colonialist assumptions in enlargement policy can play out in practice. Enlargement and the EU’s relation to the Balkans emerges from the material as paradoxical and contradictory, producing ambivalence on the Western Balkan’s standing in relation to Europe through a discursive double move of simultaneous inclusion and exclusion.
Keyword(s): EU enlargement Western Balkans Balkans postcolonialism post-structuralism discourse analysis post-structuralist discourse theory

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