‘Europe in your Pocket’: Narratives of Identity in Euro Iconography

Sassatelli, Monica. 2017. ‘Europe in your Pocket’: Narratives of Identity in Euro Iconography. Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 25(3), pp. 354-366. ISSN 1478-2804 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

European institutions have long been concerned with how citizens perceive them and how this is connected to shifting notions of Europe and collective identities. This article contributes to the analysis of EU narratives as revealed by the design of the euro banknotes, their intended institutional meaning and the debate they raised. The seven denominations’ main images are bridges and doors, inspired by European architectural styles, but representing abstract symbols and not actual landmarks. In the public debate, this has attracted more criticism than praise; scholars, too, have generally been dismissive. In this article, I aim to provide an interpretation of how currency iconography becomes the medium of both accepted and occasionally contested narratives of identity. First I consider how the euro was designed and officially promoted; then I advance a critique of the main interpretations, as an indicator of accepted (or unacceptable) representations of Europe. Available narratives will finally be rethought through an analysis of the significance of the bridge and the door as cultural symbols, following Georg Simmel’s essay on the subject. The significance of this will emerge in relation to the wider relevance of architectural metaphors of Europe as tropes in narratives of European identity.

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Currency, iconography, euro, narrative, identity

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25 June 2017Accepted
2 October 2017Published Online

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Date Deposited:

28 Jun 2017 15:12

Last Modified:

19 Dec 2019 10:18

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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