Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Bildung und Kommunikation in Migrationsprozessen

Perceptions of Europe

The process of European integration implies that nation states with very different cultural, religious and political traditions work together. Immigration is usually seen as an additional challenge for European integration. Immigration causes more diversity and thus – so the usual logic – reduces the chances to develop a Europe with a certain cohesion.  This logic may be adequate, but it is worth exploring a different view. This is what we are attempting in this part of our study.

Could Africans, Americans or Asians immigrants be the better Europeans? They formed their first concepts of Europe outside Europe. In the beginning of their migration experience, they have no special attachment to a nation state. They have not followed the media reports about bureaucratic European regulations. Thus, they may be able to see more clearly what is specific about Europe, and to cherish the success of European policies for peace and democracy. Becoming immigrants, it might be easier to develop a European identity, rather identifying with a nation state.

 When we anounced an open call for international student partners, we received more than 250 applications with essays on the topic „What does Europe mean to me personally?“ During the Summer School 2005 in Greece, the selected students discussed perceptions of Europe, stimulated by statements from the essays. We will explore these data sources with means of qualitative contents analysis to see whether we find indications that would justify a deeper study of the potential of immigrants for a European identity.  


This explorative study is conducted at the University of Oldenburg. Students of intercultural education are involved in the preparation and analysis of data, starting with a seminar ‘Ausländischen Studierende in Europa über Europa. Inhalte und Methoden des Forschungsprojekts POLITIS’ in October 2005. In this seminar, Dita Vogel and Rudolf Leiprecht follow the approach to involve students in a learning-by-doing manner in European research.

POLITIS working paper 4 is  summarizing first results of the research.