MUSTS/PCE Colloquium with Nicole Dewandre: Arendt, Metaphors and the EU

Joint MUSTS/PCE Colloquium

Wednesday, October 17 2018, 15:30-17:00

Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, Grote Gracht 80-82, Attic

Arendt, Metaphors and the EU: how language reveals the conceptual frameworks standing under knowledge?



The rise of populism is the signature of a profound crisis of the political, and the EU does not escape. I shall argue that this crisis is generated by the fact that politics is still understood and acted in a modern way, while we are stepping out of Modernity. Hannah Arendt’s well-known but controversial distinction between labour, work and action provides, perhaps unexpectedly, a conceptual grounding for transforming politics and policy-making at the EU level. Arendt provides the conceptual tools to transform the conceptualisation of relations and of agents that fuels the growing dissatisfaction among many Europeans with EU policy-making. This argument is made through stretching and re-articulating Arendt’s labour-work-action distinction and taking seriously both the biological and plural dimensions of the human condition, besides its rational one. By applying this shift in an EU context, EU policies could change their priorities and better address the needs and expectations of plural political agents and of European citizens. The presentation and argument are informed by my analysis of the use of metaphors in EU policy documents over the past decades, focusing on industry and technology policies, and on those relating to the Lisbon Treaty and EU 2020.

Nicole Dewandre is Adviser for Societal Issues, Communications Networks, Content & Technology to the Directorate-General, European Commission