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, Spiegelzaal

Arendt, Metaphors and the EU
How Language Reveals the Conceptual Frameworks on which EU Industry and Technology Policies Draw  



The rise of populism signals a profound crisis of the political, and the EU does not escape from this. I will argue that this crisis has beengenerated by the fact that politics is still understood and practiced  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 for transforming the conceptualisation of relations and of agents that fuels the growing dissatisfaction among many Europeans with EU policy-making. I will make this  argument by stretching and re-articulating Arendt’s labour-work-action distinction and taking seriously both the biological and plural dimensions of the human condition, on top of  its rational one. By applying this shift to an EU context, EU policies might  change their priorities and better address the needs and expectations of plural political agents and of European citizens. Thisargument is 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