From the Distant Crusades to 'Local' 'Islamic Terrorism': From the European Civilizing Processes to the Contemporary Western De-civilizing Process?

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This paper takes its point of departure in a number of wars fought far away from most of the European survival units (states) in the 8th century at the Iberian Peninsula and in the 11th and 12th centuries more specifically in the Middle East and Eastern Europe/Baltic countries. The claim is that the distant wars at the frontiers of 'Europe' in the 8th, and especially in the 11th, and 12th centuries . As we know the often named as the Crusades were crucial to the European civilizing processes, including the Christian dimension and this was reinforced by the Ottoman conquest of Konstantinoble 1453, the defeat of the Ottomans in the battle of Lepanto 1571 and the two sieges of Vienna in 1529 and 1683.
As we know the name Europe comes from Greek and the name is related to the myth…. But more importantly Europe was constituted by the rise and development of particular survival units as a response to the decline of the roman empire, new forms of military technologies, the rise of towns, the spread of Christianity etc., etc..
Gradually, we can see how two figurations co-develop but also how the two are interdependent. The first figuration can be named the figuration of European survival units emerging and consolidating within the landmasses of the southern, western and northern Europe protected by the Northern Sea, Atlantic Sea and the Mediterranean and with a fuzzy and moving frontier to the east. This figuration was itself situated in a larger figuration in which the ‘Arabs’ and later ‘Turks’ became the principal enemy due to a struggle of land and ideology. Thus we see how the key source of conflict dominating the development of the European figuration of SU was determined by the struggle for influencing the ratio of power. Thus the dominant actors were the European great powers. Occationally, a major threat emerged due to changes in the larger figuration which led to a threat from the Ottomans. Then this conflict overdetermined the different ‘local’ European conflicts and the European strongest SU had to mobilize together towards the external enemy.
From the early 16th century and to the peace of Westphalia war is fought within and between the European survival units partly due to great power rivalry be tween France and the Habsburgs and partly as a set of religious wars between Catholics and Protestants. This dual set of conflictual relations created a specific set of conditions of existence for the European civilizing process. The external 'islamic' threat contributed to a European civilizing process in which Christianity became an important aspect. The Islamic 'signifier' functioned as a common enemy (hostis) for most European survival units with some continuity from the 7th and 8th centuries to the 11t h, 12th, and 13th centuries. It continues in the 16th and 17th and it returns in the 21st century. During this long period of time war against 'Islam' moves from being a distant war in the Middle East in the 11th century to become a 'civil' war ('War again st terrorism') in the big cities in Europe. The 'islamic fundamentalists are recruited from European citizens. 'The enemy is an inherent part of the civilizing process. Finally, the paper discusses the implications of these developments for the civilizing processes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts : Nordic Sociological Conference 2018
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationAalborg
PublisherAalborg Universitet
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event29th Nordic Sociological Association Conference. NSA 2018 - Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Duration: 8 Aug 201810 Aug 2018
Conference number: 29


Conference29th Nordic Sociological Association Conference. NSA 2018
LocationAalborg University
Internet address


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