Article published online in Contemporary European History 26 February 2021

Granadino, A., Karamouzi, E., & Kullaa, R. (2021). Rethinking Southern Europe: Society, Networks and Politics. Contemporary European History, 1-10. doi:10.1017/S0960777320000557

Rethinking Southern Europe: Society, Networks and Politics

“…Simone Paoli’s monograph Frontiera Sud: L’Italia e la nascita dell’Europa di Schengen focuses on the topic of movement across borders as transformative societal action. It marries the two subjects of national history and mobility to the EU. Paoli focuses on Italy’s position as the epicentre of Europe’s debate on immigration but also shows how a transnational phenomenon transformed Italy. His research proves without a doubt that the increase in irregular migration to Southern European shores was a consequence of the Schengen regime. Paoli creates a historic account of immigration and frames the question correctly and creatively in terms of European integration. This text is written neither in defence nor in favour of the abolishment of ‘fortress Europe’. Such arguments have dominated much of the recent historiography of the European South written from an identity and value politics point of view. Those current trends on the debate on migration stand contrary to the book reviewed here which is based upon empirical investigations of new sources Paoli’s book stands outside the two pro and contra boxes by researching what happened to Europe’s southern border during the transformation of the European Communities into the European Union. His historical analysis of the rich data he has gathered help to move forward our debate about the role and position of Southern Europe within the EU as well the European border regime and shows what recent history research can contribute to current debate…”

“…By placing these actors at the epicentre of the analysis, these books provide a better understanding of how societies framed changing cultural norms, and what they thought about the nature of transformation in Southern Europe. None of these stories could be told without an understanding of wider transnational spaces since none of the political spaces were transformed in isolation from the regional comparative context of Southern Europe or the world. Grouped together, these books move beyond old clichés of Southern Europe without giving a definitive meaning. They do so by placing the people at the centre of their analyses. Such an approach provides valuable insights into how Southern European societies experienced, thought about and influenced regional transformations. Readers are given the opportunity to rethink this region by moving closer to the issue of what Southern Europe meant for its people. When read together, these books reveal that it meant different things to different people, from a space for social progress for young students looking towards a democratic future, to a space which would come to define how the European Union would progress as a political entity in the future. What is different in this recent literature is that Southern Europe is no longer approached from the starting point of a periphery, but rather as another centre of the European narrative of progress. Moreover – and perhaps surprisingly – these books remind us how people in Southern Europe continued to prioritise and emphasise the value of the nation. By placing social movements, migrants, transnational fascism and political elites at the heart of the analysis, the books reviewed here provide a rich picture that widens the scope for interpreting the transformation of Southern Europe in the second half of the twentieth century…”