European Enlightenment (EE)

The CEMES steering committee granted in january 2013 DKK 92600 for the establishment and startup of a new CEMES-research group, European Enlightenment (EE). The group is located at the Institute of English, Germanic and Romance languages with Professor Carsten Meiner as principal project manager.
Activities of the European Enlightenment research group will include workshops, interdisciplinary meetings and an international conference on "Bio-politics and Happiness in the 18th century" (organized by Associate professor Anne Fastrup IKK).  


That European history, values and institutions are closely connected to the Enlightenment is a commonplace. This alliance, however, has had an incongruous history as it has alternately been celebrated and criticized by intellectuals, politicians and philosophers. A recent tendency in the debates on Europe reaffirms the positive aspects of the alliance: on an academic level, former structuralists, marxists, and
postmodernists publish books and articles all invoking the legacy of the Enlightenment. On a political level, intellectuals, politicians and commentators likewise use the Enlightenment to discuss, rebut or legitimize almost any political issue.
The terrorist attacks in Madrid and London, the irregular rendition of ghost detainees, the headscarf controversy, the problem of abortion in catholic Europe, gay-marriage, the cartoon-controversy were all linked with Enlightenment key-concepts such as tolerance, equality, liberty of speech, separation of church and state, autonomy, progress or negligence of the separation of powers.This constitutes a new “Enlightenment discourse”, as it were, connecting Europe with the values, ideas and institutions of the 18th century.
The research group “European Enlightenment” wishes to explore the alliance between Europe and the Enlightenment in two ways.
1) Firstly on a historical basis: As a simple point of departure the group proposes to conceive of the Enlightenment as a period of contradictions, confrontations and tensions rather than as one of ethical, intellectual and cultural homogeneity. The European Enlightenment was a period where intellectual, political and social antagonisms and tensions came to stabilize themselves as profoundly composite European ways of living and thinking.
2) This historical conceptualization points to the second goal of the research group as it also wishes to engage in reflections on the legacy of the Enlightenment for the 21st century. The research group proposes to consider the heritage of the Enlightenment as one 
precisely of conceptual, social and cultural tensions, contradictions and problems. It is not as naturalized and unquestionable ideas, values and institutions that “Liberty of speech”, “individual rights”, “tolerance” are important for European self-understanding but in the composite continuum of tensions and contradictions that they together form. Europe inherited a series of valuable problems and it is our task to analyze them in order to fully appreciate the relevance of the Enlightenment in Europe today.
If the participants in the group have worked individually on the Enlightenment for some fifteen years now the research group “European Enlightenment” is a newly started cooperation between Engerom, IKK and Saxo. It welcomes anyone working on the Enlightenment historically, conceptually or in its prehistoric or modern versions in order to create a trans-disciplinary environment for research on the social, artistic, intellectual, political and cultural life of the Enlightenment.
The group is planning a Starting Seminar in late September 2013 and an international conference in December 2013 entitled: Temporalities, Spaces and Borders of Happiness in 18th century European Culture.

Group members:
Professor Carsten Meiner, Dr.Phil., Engerom 
Professor Ulrik Langen, SAXO
Associate Professor Anne Fastrup, IKK
Associate Professor Tue Andersen Nexø IKK
Associate professor Tine Damsholt, Saxo

The group is open to new members.
For further information please contact one of the principal project managers Professor Carsten Meiner (Engerom):, Associate professor Anne Fastrup (IKK), Professor Ulrik Langen (Saxo)