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From European solidarity to anti-colonialism: Thursday's highlights

From European solidarity to anti-colonialism: Thursday's highlights at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas 

Can the European Union survive the breakdown of solidarity shown by national responses to the migration challenge? European legal experts, including the University of Cambridge's Catherine Barnard will discuss the issues at the heart of EU politics at a discussion at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas on Thursday.

In Solidarity in the European Union: Quo vadis?  Professor Barnard, an expert in EU law who has been widely quoted in media coverage of Brexit, will talk about one of the big issues for post-Brexit Europe: European Union citizenship, including the impact of Brexit on European Union citizens living in and coming to the UK.

Also speaking is Dr Esin Küçük from Lancaster University who will address member state solidarity in the context of the Mediterranean refugee crisis.

The event is organised by Dr Egle Dagilyte, Senior Lecturer in Law at Anglia Ruskin University and is based on the 2018 book Solidarity in EU Law: Legal Principle in the Making, edited by Andrea Biondi, Egle Dagilyte and Esin Küçük. The book explores the ongoing debates on solidarity in the context of the European financial crisis and immigration, asylum and border checks as well as the practical enforceability of solidarity-based obligations in EU law. 

Thursday's event will tackle the theme of solidarity in European Union law and the move from the focus of the Lisbon Treaty, signed over a decade ago, on the potential for common action in the European Union to the current context of rising nationalist and separatist political sentiments. 

Dr Dagilyte states: "We see the ideals of transnational European solidarity crumbling down. In fact, solidarity is undergoing a crisis not only at European, but also at national level. Does this mean that European solidarity was a nice idea that is no longer feasible? Or are these recent developments just temporary setbacks, evidencing the ongoing conflict between solidaristic community ideals and individualism-driven commercial markets that benefit the selected few?"

Other events taking place on Thursday include a talk by Dr Priyamvada Gopal on How anticolonialist resistance influenced British critics of empire. The talk, based on her forthcoming book, argues that the emergence of metropolitan dissent from the imperial project, alongside liberation struggles in the colonies, was a two-way process, and that the resistance of the colonised, shaped cultures of dissent, in the heart of the imperium, in profoundly important ways. 

Dr Gopal, Reader in Anglophone and Related Literatures at the University of Cambridge, says: 

"The argument of the book is not just that there is a long tradition of British criticism of Empire or British anticolonialism but that this is a tradition that was actively influenced by   witnessing and engaging with resistance to empire and insurgent movements in the colonies themselves. A lot of attention is paid to the ways in which Britain influenced political thought in the colonies; I’m arguing that there was influence in the other direction as well...

"The story of empire and resistance to it, both within and without Britain, binds us all. Part of my goal is to give back to Britain a story about some of its own powerful dissident traditions which were also deeply influenced by events in Asia and Africa and by engagement with anticolonial thinkers from these regions."

More information on the talk is available here.

The Festival sponsors and partners are St John’s College, Anglia Ruskin University, RAND Europe, University of Cambridge Museums and Botanic Garden, Cambridge Junction and Cambridge University Press. The Festival media partners are BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and Cambridge Independent.