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The religious borders of Europe, which are more evident and controversial than ever, challenge established forms of political legitimacy and the legal requirements for citizenship. Perhaps covertly rather than overtly, they shape politics and policies. While scholars have once again resorted to Edward Said’s Orientalism to describe the dynamic at play, this article argues that the Orientalism narrative of East and West is too simple to capture the actual complexity of Europe’s borders. There are four religious and thus four cultural-symbolic borders, which are increasingly defining the continent: north-western Europe is Protestant, southern Europe is Catholic, the East is Orthodox and increasingly nationalist, and the South and Near East are Muslim. The cultural purity and the values that Europe craves in search of identity and order are simply not available in a world of global interconnectedness and social diversity.


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

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Journal Article

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