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Simone Veil presiding over a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on October 12, 1979. © Claude Truong-Ngoc

Europe only has founding “fathers”, that is, the male European politicians who in the 1950s committed themselves to building the Community. There were no women, and for good reason: at the time they were given very little space in the national political life of the six founding states, even if a few women can be identified in the shadows of the founders behind the European project. None of these, however, had a deciding role. This initial absence of women can lead one to believe that they did not share in in the construction of Europe, although what was true of the 1950s and 1960s, was no longer the case from the beginning of the 1980s.

‘The doormat’, satirical drawing by David Low (1891-1963), published in the Evening Standard, 19 January 1933.

“Collective security”, an expression that emerged in the 1930s, is an attempt to respond to the outbreak of violence in the two world wars of the twentieth century. In contrast to the notion of security through a balance of power, which characterised the international system in the nineteenth century, collective security instead relies on the “imbalance of power” (Marie-Claude Smouts and Guillaume Devin) that would be amassed by all member states against any aggressor. This system was first institutionalised in the aftermath of the First World War by the League of Nations and taken up again in 1945 by the United Nations. While never bringing the results hoped for by its advocates, it nevertheless marks a turning point in the history of international relations.

Statue erected in Gallipoli (1922) in honour of Corporal Seyit, hero of the Turkish army

Since Antiquity, the ideal of virility has been built on the model of the Greek citizen-soldier, notably in war. The Revolution conferred rights upon the soldier, and exalted his courage and acceptance of the supreme sacrifice. During the nineteenth century, Romantics, partisans of colonization, and nationalists continued to base virility in war, while in civil societies a less bellicose masculinity imposed itself. In the twentieth century, increases in firepower, the transformation of combat, and recognition of the fear and psychiatric disorders of combatants, weakened the military-virile model. All the same, the values preached in war and espoused by the army remain first and foremost masculine ones.

Liberation of children by Soviet troops from the camp of Auschwitz in January 1945, photography by Alexander Voronzow.

Barbed wire, which is associated in mental representations with the worst totalitarian systems of the twentieth century and with deprivation of the most fundamental liberties, was born in the 1870s in the large prairies of the American Midwest. During World War One it became an essential albeit little-known weapon, and represents a symbol of mass death, which only imperfectly renders the historical conditions of its use.

Soviet partisans during World War Two

Nineteenth-century Europe for the most part refused the presence of women in the military, believing that bearing arms was incompatible with femininity, reserving it only for men who possessed the political power from which it was inseparable. Women made their demands in vain, and transgressions of this gender norm were rare. The feminization of the military began in the twentieth century, but initially involved only medical care and auxiliary logistics. The two world wars along with the wars of decolonization amplified the mobilization of women and forced the military in most European countries to establish a lasting legal framework enabling women to become soldiers like anyone else, that is to say like men.

Maerten van Heemskerck (1498-1574), Self-portrait, with the Colosseum , 1553. Fitzwilliam Museum.

The study and representation of the remains of ancient Rome had a central role in the emergence of cultural and artistic models in Renaissance Europe. Beginning in the late fourteenth century, humanists developed a collection of scholarly methods (notably epigraphical and topographical) that founded a proto-archaeological approach to ruins. The “science of ruins” went hand in hand with an aesthetic fascination that had a lasting influence through the redefinition of the canons and subjects in artistic practice. Observation of ruins was one of the major inspirations in the creation of “classic” architecture, while ruins became a recurring motif in European painting beginning in the late fifteenth century. Finally, this rediscovery was anchored in a powerful imaginary that conferred memorial and political value on Roman ruins. Humanists in particular made ruins into a warning from History, and formulated a patrimonial ideology of which the pontifical power of the Quattrocento was the primary promoter.


In 2001, the European Commission published European Governance: A White Paper, after six years of preparatory work conducted by civil servants and academics. The notion of participation by civil society plays a fundamental role in the work. A genuine discourse of European participatory governance is established, one of whose primary functions, we believe, is to confer a kind of democratic legitimacy onto Commission civil servants and experts at a key moment in its history.

Norden and European Union flags.

Seen from the outside, cooperation among the Nordic countries appears as a foregone conclusion–aren’t these countries, which have so much in common, destined to cooperate with one another? However, a more nuanced analysis of their cooperation during the twentieth century reveals a series of missed opportunities, dashed hopes, and institutional false starts. If the coordination of their foreign policy appears to be one of the natural instincts of the five Nordic states, economic rivalries, geopolitical differences, and recurring disputes have complicated their relations, and often prevented their organized cooperation from reaching concrete results despite numerous attempts. 

Strasbourg- European Court of Human Rights. Photo: CherryX.

Evoking a “European standard” for liberties amounts to examining the existence and development of legal norms applicable to all states in the area concerned. In the current state of the law, there is the clear emergence of what could be called a “continental” law, one of the essential characteristics of which is the promotion of stringent requirements in matters of liberties, particularly insofar as it is characterized by constant evolution. It nevertheless meets with active opposition, both externally and internally.

« Tout le monde Kaputt. La Première Guerre mondiale en BD » tenue à Giessen (Allemagne) du 12 juin 2013 au 7 juillet 2013. 

Recounting war has always played a role in European comics, whether as an instrument of propaganda, heroisation or denunciation. But it is only in recent decades that the number of stories about war has proliferated, that the range of subjects, spaces treated and perspectives has increased, and that the circulation of stories across Europe has become more pronounced. For this reason, comic books feed into a shared collection of popular narratives of war just as they fuel anti-war representations.

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