The heart of the European body politic: British and German perspectives on Europe's central organ

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On the basis of a corpus of British and German press coverage of European Union (EU) politics over the 1990s, the paper analyses uses of the geopolitical heart metaphor. Over the course of the 1990s, successive British governments promised to work at the heart of Europe. However, no one ever claimed that Britain was in the heart of Europe, even though other geographically peripheral parts of Europe (e.g. the Balkan peninsula) have been situated there by the British press. Instead, British media and politicians tended to foreground scenarios of heart illness or even heart failure to express scepticism towards further political and economic integration. Conversely, in German public discourse, the heart of europe seems to be most often proudly identified as a German one, with selected places in central Europe (Prague, Vienna, Wroclaw/Breslau) as ‘runners‐up’. On the basis of the corpus evidence, it is argued that the heart of europe metaphor plays a central role in EU-related political discourse, which links it to the tradition of BODY POLITIC concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-452
Number of pages16
JournalMultilingual & Multicultural Development
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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