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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds Welcome everyone to the first week of our course. In this week, you will learn how Europe is constructed through culture. Culture gives meaning to our lives as individuals and as a society. Culture provides a common and shared frame of reference through which we make the world meaningful. As such, culture is the foundation of our society. So why not start with culture? Our colleague, Margriet van der Waal from the University of Groningen will be your guide this week. You will learn how Europe is imagined through culture. You will learn how the European Union fosters European culture through policies and programmes, such as the European language policy or the European Capitals of Culture programme.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds And our colleagues from Krakow will tell you all the ins and outs of Krakow’s Capital of Culture experience, as the city was holding the title in 2000. You will also learn about more grassroot culture projects that also contribute to the construction of European culture. And you will learn how European citizens add to the European culture through their everyday experiences and practices.

Overview of the week

Now we’ve introduced the course, let’s begin with the the content for Week 1.

We start our course by exploring the various meanings of ‘culture’, as well as the various actors involved in constructing culture.

Sometimes, culture refers to the arts. It can also be used to refer to the more abstract idea of ‘civilisation’. That is not how we use the concept in our course. As Dr Margriet van der Waal will explain later this week, when we speak of culture, it is what we do when we reflect on what we do to make sense of our surroundings. In this definition, politics also becomes part of culture.

In this week, this idea of culture is connected to Europe. We will look at the ways in which EU policy impacts and uses culture for political goals - think of language policy and the European Capitals of Culture programme. But citizens and artists also shape European culture from the bottom-up: they can contest institutionalised ideas and discourses.

We end the week with a reflection on culture as legitimacy: how culture can be used to legitimise certain policies or responses by governments and institutions. You will notice, as the course progresses, that ‘legitimacy’ is a key word. Culture is never neutral: it always imagines things to be in a certain way. An art work may imagine Europe as harmonious, for example, or maybe as a complete disaster.

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This video is from the free online course:

European Culture and Politics

University of Groningen

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