Stefan Auer

Stefan Auer is Associate Professor, Jean Monnet Chair and Programme Director in European Studies in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Hong Kong. Prior to this, he worked at La Trobe University in Melbourne (2006-2013) and University College Dublin (2001-2006). He is the author of Whose Liberty is it Anyway? Europe at the Crossroads (Seagull, 2012) and Liberal Nationalism in Central Europe (Routledge, 2004, pbk 2006), which was awarded the prize for Best Book in European Studies (2005) by the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES). His recent publications include, ‘Carl Schmitt in the Kremlin: the Ukraine crisis and the return of geopolitics’, International Affairs, 91: 5, 2015.


Cover for: Sovereignty bites back

Sovereignty bites back

Brexit and the future of an ever closer union

Brexit, migration, the eurozone debt crisis: despite the victories of Macron and Merkel this year, the EU’s problems have not gone away. Indeed, the future shape and direction of both the EU and the UK remain far from clear. At the heart of the challenges they face lies the contestation of sovereignty, argues Stefan Auer.

Mélanie Laurent in

The Holocaust as fiction

From Andrzej Wajda's "Korczak" to Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds"

“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” However, what if remaining silent is unacceptable? Then Wittgenstein’s famous dictum no longer helps, writes Stefan Auer. Then one narrates stories, even cinematic ones.

Cover for: The end of the European Dream

The end of the European Dream

What future for Europe's constrained democracy?

A political culture of total optimism has obscured one of the paradoxes of European unity: a constrained democracy, borne out of the experience of the devastating wars in the first half of the twentieth century, and aimed at suppressing pernicious populist instincts, has now become the source of new resentment. Coupled with the unintended consequences of the single currency, these are exceptional times indeed. And the challenges awaiting democracy are not about to get any easier, according to Stefan Auer.

From pacifist to cheerleader for US foreign policy, from dissident thinker to purveyor of “political kitsch”, Vaclav Havel was a figure that divided opinion. Nevertheless, right up to his death, Havel continued to pursue a consistent ideal, writes Stefan Auer.

European leaders’ unwavering commitment to ever closer union is causing more harm than good, argues Stefan Auer. Europe doesn’t need more integration; it needs more democracy to enable its nations to regain control over their destiny. Partial and well-managed disintegration may be preferable to a chaotic implosion.

Contesting the origins of European liberty

The EU narrative of Franco-German reconciliation and the eclipse of 1989

Despite western Europe’s initially lukewarm response to the people’s revolutions of ’89, twenty years on the EU claims them as a cornerstone of “European identity”. Yet historical gaffes have exposed the pitfalls in attempting to create an all too tidy narrative of Europe’s twentieth century, writes Stefan Auer.

Hannah Arendt’s writings on the 1956 Hungary uprising might give the impression that it was the first velvet revolution in central and eastern Europe. In other words, Arendt wrote about a revolution that had not yet taken place. Despite this misjudgement, Arendt’s theoretical insights into the relationship between power and violence are more than ever relevant to an understanding of both the uprising itself and the role of the public memory of it after 1989.

In order to live up to its promise to become a community of shared
values, the European Union should pay more attention to the legacy of the 1989 revolutions
in Central Europe. The experience of the peoples of Central Europe showed
that radical political change can be achieved by peaceful means. Thus the “conservative”
revolutions in Central Europe challenged the exclusive paradigm of revolutionary
change derived from the French Revolution. In contrast to 1789, the events of 1989
demonstrated that new beginnings are possible without a radical break with the past.

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