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Culture Wars in Europe and Eurasia

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.

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.