Women in the neighbourhood: Reinstating the European Union’s civilising mission on the back of gender equality promotion?

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Series Details Vol.23, No.1, March 2017, p122–144
Publication Date March 2017
ISSN 1354-0661
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The European Union has launched its New European Neighbourhood Policy as a reaction to a ‘changing neighbourhood’. A key novelty in the New European Neighbourhood Policy is the special role attributed to gender equality promotion as an important ingredient of Europeanisation. The literature has so far focused on assessing whether and to what extent neighbourhood countries adopt and implement European Union gender equality norms. Bringing together the feminist and postcolonial literature on gender equality promotion and European identity formation, this article resituates the New European Neighbourhood Policy within the broader debate regarding processes of European identity formation and Europe’s relations with Others. We combine the concept of delineating gendered and racialised coding with the concept of contrapuntal reading to analyse key official European Union documents alongside the voices expressing themselves through new (social) media.

This allows us to highlight silences and exclusions within New European Neighbourhood Policy narratives, to resituate these narratives in their historical context, and to render visible the diversity of competing and interrelated narratives related to gender equality promotion. We read the recent focus on gender equality promotion in the New European Neighbourhood Policy as an expression of the ambivalence of European Union identity building: at a moment when neighbouring countries move closer to Europe, either adopting the acquis communautaire or going through democratisation processes, they are placed at a spatial and temporal distance outside Europe. Our analysis highlights the persistence of colonial practices of Othering and hierarchical Self–Other definitions that are reproduced through current New European Neighbourhood Policy policies. Yet, we suggest that this moment might also present an opportunity to render visible and take seriously the co-constitutive relationship between the European Union and its Others, which could point to alternative forms of interaction and identity building.

Source Link http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1354066115621120
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