European Union under Pressure – Public Narratives on Europe and its Borders

von Larissa Fleischmann, M.A.

This project aims to explore understandings of ‘Europe’ and its borders in public discourses in Britain, Germany and France. Thereby, it tries to shed light on Europe’s assumed ‘identity crisis’: scholars have argued that the European Union (EU) is unable to yarn a common thread of European identity among its putative citizens.

In order to investigate these public understandings of Europe, the empirical analysis aims to examine newspaper accounts on the migrant boat which sank near the Italian island of Lampedusa on the 3rd October 2013. It is estimated that more than 300 migrants, mostly believed to be Eritrean, died in the Mediterranean Sea in their attempt to claim asylum in the EU. The shipwreck triggered an important media debate on the European border and asylum policies in its aftermath. The thesis will show that these media representations are important for the study of ‘Europe’: they are “key to understanding the ways in which people understand the world around them and their place within it” as Sharp (2011, 298) has noted. A total number of 109 articles, directly relating to the Lampedusa shipwreck in the newspapers The Guardian (Britain), Der Spiegel (Germany) and Le Monde (France), have been compiled, coded and analysed.

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