Non-Fiction Books:

Ambivalent Europeans

Ritual, Memory and the Public Sphere in Malta


Paperback / softback

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Ambivalent Europeans by Jon P Mitchell
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Ambivalent Europeans examines the implications of living on the fringes of Europe. In Malta, public debate is dominated by the question of Europe, both at a policy level - whether or not to join the EU - and at the level of national identity - whether or not the Maltese are 'European'. Jon Mitchell identifies a profound ambivalence towards Europe, and also more broadly to the key processes of 'modernisation'. He traces this tendency through a number of key areas of social life - gender, the family, community, politics, religion and ritual. This book examines the potency of ritual with special reference to the island's festa (feasts), in particular that of the national patron St. Paul, showing how they are used as a means for resolving and expressing anxieties about 'tradition' and 'modernity'. It also looks at the pervasive nostalgia that characterises contemporary Malta, a country where Roman Catholicism has historically been dominant, and where 'modernisation' and 'Europeanisation' are seen to threaten traditional values, even when they promise greater affluence and economic stability. In addition, it demonstrates how the particular dynamics of Maltese public life have shaped debates concerning national identity. Although located in Malta, this book contributes to many contemporary theoretical debates, and highlights processes that may be observed elsewhere in the region. In so doing, it furthers our understanding of European integration, not least how Europe is viewed from its margins.
Release date NZ
September 20th, 2001
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
2 Tables, black and white
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