On the Borders of Europe. Citizenship Education and Identity in Cyprus

  • Stavroula Philippou

Abstract

This paper is about the concept of "Europe" and how it could be used as an educational framework to alleviate existing tensions regarding citizenship education and Euro-pean/national/state identity in the context of Cyprus. To this end, the paper serves both a descriptive and a normative agenda, in that it largely describes recent theoretical and political development in civics and citizenship education in Europe and in Cyprus, in order to explore, in the last part of the paper, the potential of using "Europe" and "European citizenship" as tools for reflection and dialogue over (Greek)-Cypriot citizenship and identity. The study of European citi-zenship is complicated due to its different meanings and associations with national identities; I argue that in Cyprus this is further complicated by a political problem of community conflict and partition, which has long been challenging peoples' national identities. Cyprus, an island lying on the borders of (traditional geographical definitions of) Europe and one of the European Union's most recent member-states needs to revisit its approaches to citizenship as a condition of EU membership. The paper illustrates how ongoing discussions and debates over the political problem of Cyprus render it extremely difficult to take decisive steps towards reconceptualising existing Greek-Cypriot civics and citizenship education curricula, exactly because notions of national identity have so far been inextricably interwoven into these curricula. It is proposed that a revisiting of the meaning of "Europe" and the discourses of post-national, multicultural and European citizenship, as well as human rights and democracy might be useful tools to address citizenship and identity dilemmas deriving both from EU membership and the political problem in Cyprus.
Published
2007-01-10