Professor Eszter Salgó on the Politics of Time in International Relations

Professor Eszter Salgó presented a paper titled “Mythical Time in International Politics: Interpretive Approaches to the Study of the European Union’s Politics of Transcendence” at the annual conference of the Millennium: Journal of International Studies. The conference, on the topic of “The Politics of Time in International Relations,” took place at the London School of Economics and Political Science on October 21-22.

A peer-reviewed and highly ranked journal of International Studies founded in 1971, Millennium is committed to critically transforming the field of International Studies by publishing provocative and original scholarship focused on theoretical perspectives rarely seen in International Relations. Each October, the annual Millennium conference provides a forum for discussion on the latest developments in Critical International Theory. This year’s conference also aimed to underscore the political aspects of what might appear to be an abstract and philosophical dimension of human experience: that the politics of remembering the past, narrating the present and anticipating the future ensure that time is often a site of struggle, contestation, and violence.

Professor Eszter Salgó

Professor Eszter Salgó

In her paper, Professor Salgó stated that, until recently, European history has been told by the European elite in a linear, teleological fashion as the story of the “European family’s march,” starting in 1950 and advancing gradually but without serious interruptions, towards complete union. Since the 2008 crisis, however, a cyclic vision of time seems to prevail in the European discourse. The supranational elite more and more frequently presents the story of the European Union (EU) according to the mythic structure of trauma and triumph, of death and rebirth. The European community is cherished for its ability to arise from the ashes, resurrecting time and time again, and returning to its mythical age. Gaining inspirations from anthropology, political, psychoanalytic and art theories, Prof. Salgó sought to illustrate that the causes of this shift relate to the crisis of the two intellectual sources of the linear conceptualization of time: the Judeo-Christian tradition and liberal thinking. On the one hand, the supranational elite’s increasingly authoritarian approach offers little room for liberal thinking. On the other, the architects of European federalism seem to be inclined to fill the void left by the crisis of the Judeo-Christian tradition through the sacralization of politics – the fabrication of a new political religion based on the dogma of an “ever-closer union.”