Research in European studies at UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture cuts across a wide range of subject areas, including modern history, cultural and literary studies, area studies, human geography, political thought and philosophy. The research covers a broad spectrum of European political, cultural and intellectual history, with particular emphasis on the ideas and concepts that shaped Europe; on Europe’s engagement with the world, past and present; and on the debates and controversies about Europe today, whether on issues like the legacies of empire and colonialism, nationalism, migration or minorities. Staff members across the UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture are also engaged in research on Europe in a range of fields such as politics and international relations, film and performance studies, religion and migration.

Research focus

Thinking about Europe today requires looking beyond the traditional geopolitical and conceptual frameworks. Research in European studies in the School of Humanities & Languages at UNSW Sydney encompasses Western and Eastern Europe, including Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Reflecting on Europe today, must consider the different foils against which Europe has cast itself, the cultures, spaces and periods that have figured as the other to European identity, whether external or internal.

One set of research is thus concerned with Europe’s geographical peripheries like Ireland and the zones of exchange with non-European civilisations as for example, the Eastern Mediterranean. Historically, interests range from the Enlightenment and European colonialism to culture and politics of memory in modern Europe, from contemporary debates about the rise of populism, the role of religion in public life and politics, and the migration crisis.

Staff strengths & accomplishments

Research on European Modernism/Modernity is one area of particular strength in the School of Humanities & Languages. It includes work on literary authors of High Modernism (such as Samuel Beckett) and reflection on, and the critique of, Modernity in the continental philosophical tradition: from Kant and Hegel via Nietzsche to Heidegger and contemporary French and Italian thought. Modern European History is another area of great strength in the field of European studies, with research on the history of the family, on Western intellectuals and the Soviet Union, or postwar and postsocialist European societies (Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland). Religion, secularism and political theology is an emerging area of strength in which the interests of colleagues from different disciplinary backgrounds intersect.

The interdisciplinary research group on the religious turn in the humanities and social sciences is engaged in international debates over issues such as Islam in Europe and, more broadly, the entanglement of religion and politics, historically and in the present. In November 2016, the group organised a set of research seminars and a colloquium featuring high-profile guests from the United States and Europe.