Theme 2017: “European Values in Crisis?”

The European Union can be characterized as a community of values. But a consecutive series of crises, monetary, political, migratory and identity, makes one question what has become of the democratic values of solidarity, dignity and liberty on which the European Union has been built? Most strongly today, political discourse speaks of a ‘migratory crisis’ and even a ‘humanitarian crisis’. In this context, fundamental European values emerge again, such as established in the Treaty of Lisbon: ‘respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and are asked to put in practice. 

Two questions present themselves in relation to the reappearance of the debate on European values. Are these values European, universal or national? How does this story of values reach the citizens and to what extent can we consider Europe still an engine of inspiration? At first sight, European values are indistinguishable of what has become universal values and in fact they should maybe not distinguish Europe from the rest of the world too strictly. What is typically European about these values is for sure the historical importance of countries who had just lived through two world wars recognizing shared values. Peace was a common denominator out of which desire for solidary, tolerance and justice was born. But today’s reality is different. Europe is only just recovering from an economic and financial crisis in the midst of which the values of tolerance and openness seem in decline. Hundreds of thousands of people are seeking to enter Europe – refugees and migrants – and the response of the majority of the European leadership is to let countries with external borders build fences or seek any other means of refusing them. Thus, while from one side efforts are made to close the borders and impose restrictive migratory policies, from the other side comes messages of unity and warnings about retreating into nationalist responses. Francois Holland can be heard quoting Francois Mitterand in the European Parliament, ‘Nationalism is war’, and adding ‘Sovereignty is decline’. Angela Merkel, in the same name sees the end of Europe in the return of national borders and lack of unity to fight the crisis: ‘More Europe, not less!’, she demanded.

For years, there has been talk of a ‘European identity crisis’ reproaching the European union for shirking its responsibility and accusing it of advancing the European construction while neglecting the citizens, thereby increasing disaffection. Nevertheless, it is Europe’s economic and financial crisis management policies with its strict austerity measurements, and the current ‘refugee and migratory crisis’ that fuels populist discourses. 

What gets through to us, the European citizens? Why does the refugee crisis and the free movement of people, a corner stone of the EU project, put the existence of European values to the test and produce warnings about national selfishness and intolerance? Brexit being it’s latest and most dramatic example. The financial crisis and strict austerity measures feed directly anti-European populist discourses. To this may be added the public alarm about Islamists. The dominant discourse in this time of crisis has been overwhelmed by the opinions of the populist leaders of xenophobic and anti-European parties. 

Europe has a historical challenge to provide a convincing response to a crisis where the paradigm of exclusion, xenophobia and nationalism are overriding the values of solidarity, inclusion, common safety and shared economic growth. Such a response concerns us all and is all about European values: it is our time to evaluate whether we can still believe in this Europe. 

The summer school sets out to investigate and discuss the historical, political, sociological, anthropological and human rights questions that come with the current crisis of European values.  How to safeguard fundamental European rights in times of crisis?


Schedule 2017


Sunday 9th July

Monday 10th July

Tuesday 11th July

Wednesday 12th July

Thursday 13th July

Friday 14th July




European values and Europeaness


Radicalization & Free Speech  (from Charlie Hebdo to homegrown Jihadism)

Local Lecture / Media Representation


Exclusion & Resistance. Italian Asylum policies  and the case of Riace


Populism in Europe












INTERNATIONAL (Intl Relations and Intl Law)

External Relations and European Values


Use of European Values








Reading Blocks


16-18 Reading Block

16-18 Reading Block


Theater (cont.)


Reading Block


Reading Block



Introductory Lecture followed by a reception

Guided Walk to the City Centre


Academic Committee



Closing Ceremony




Clusters 2017

Cluster 1 – Anthropology

Exclusion & Resistance: Italian Asylum policies and the case of Riace  

Federica Tarabusi (University of Bologna) & Ester Driel (Utrecht University)

The Anthropology cluster aims to investigate how the European liberal values are challenged by the increase in the number of asylum-seekers in EU-28 Member States over the past two decades. As many scholars have stated, the threat to the self-proclaimed liberal and democratic values (based on human rights) is particularly appearent in the area of immigration and asylum (Boswell 2000). In an introductory lecture, an anthropological background is provided on the challenges that the rise of exclusionary forms of ethnocentrism and a growing “backlash” against diversity pose to the European project (Grillo 2005). This in turn contributed to a widespread hostility towards migrants (Vertovec, Wessendorf 2010).

The second part will be an interactive workshop, where students will contribute to the main discussion by doing exercises based on small group work. Focusing on the case of Italy, we will take into account how in Riace – a small town in Southern Italy – an innovative reception program for refugees supports the accommodation of asylum seekers and promotes a local positive attitude towards refugees (Driel, n.d.). Based on data collected during an ethnographic fieldwork from October 2015 to September 2016, the success of Riace’s reception program and the reasons why the majority of the residents perceive the hospitality towards refugees as an integral part of the identity of the town will be discussed.