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Culture Wars in Europe and Eurasia

This new research project explores the dynamic nature of culture wars in Europe and Eurasia, looking at both domestic contexts and transnational actors, grassroots movements and ideological instrumentalization, and discusses how culture wars are reshaping definitions of belonging, citizenship, and moral order.

Culture wars were long seen as unique to the highly polarized U.S. political context. In his seminal work Culture Wars: The Struggle to Control the Family, Art, Education, Law, and Politics in America, James Davison Hunter defines culture wars as cultural and social conflicts rooted in the moral and philosophical assumptions that order our lives. Outside the US, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa were the first regions of the world to face local versions of culture wars; these often occurred due to extensive interactions with U.S. actors—thereby confirming the transnationalization of culture wars and the birth of a new Global Right Wing, as studied by Clifford Bob—even if local context and actors agenda have remained the driving force.

Since then, the post-communist space of Europe and Eurasia (both former socialist countries and former Soviet republics) seems to have become a new hotspot for culture wars, and Western Europe has not been spared either. Contentious topics range from the classic abortion issue and the new flagship of LGBT+ rights to euthanasia, bioethics, medically assisted procreation, domestic violence, juvenile justice, climate change, and—since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic—vaccination and lockdown measures.

The Culture Wars in Europe and Eurasia is a series that seeks to provide an opportunity for scholars to touch upon some controversial societal issues that feature prominently in today’s contemporary politics–from sexual and reproduction rights to bioethical issues, migration policies, or interpretation of climate change. Many of these topics can be approached from both an academic or opinionated perspective, as scholars are also citizens, situated in their own political culture and philosophical beliefs. The series offers a platform for sharing both scholarly works and more opinion pieces on the nature of today’s culture wars, as well as on the constructed nature of this same notion of culture wars.