The naturalization of feminine and masculine qualities, which was used for the gendered division of occupations, intensified during the nineteenth century. The occupations of men were often based on physical strength, or the exercise of high public office and professions involving knowledge and power, whereas the occupations of women were more connected to dexterity and the fields of care and education. Transgression of the gendered occupational order has led to many professional “firsts” among women since the late nineteenth century, as well as to a few “firsts” among men in the early twenty-first century. Their history is closely connected to recognition of rights granted to women as well as progress towards professional equality, without however leading to equal pay.
The expulsion of the Germans of Czechoslovakia in 1945-1946 brought an end to the centuries-long presence of German-speaking populations in this part of Central Europe. The German-Czech disagreement regarding these expulsions remained strong throughout the second half of the twentieth century. The suffering endured by Czechoslovaks under Nazi domination, as well as that experienced by the German-speaking population upon their expulsion have fuelled strong resentment on both sides since 1945. This rancour on the part of those who were expelled was reinforced by the silence that the communist regime imposed on this thorny subject in Czechoslovakia, leaving West Germany with the task of granting reparations. The initiation of a reconciliation process was almost impossible in these conditions. The discussions initiated since 1989 have nevertheless enabled a return to calmer relations, which are more in step with the evolution of memories of the Second World War in Europe.
Russeries, which were imagined by Jean-Baptiste Le Prince, were one of the last forms of artistic exoticism conceived in eighteenth century France. The artist went to Saint Petersburg in 1757, and was presented at the court of Elizabeth I of Russia (1741-1762), who entrusted him with official commissions. Over the course of six long years, the painter-engraver steeped himself in the “Russian” atmosphere, and captured local everyday scenes from real life, along with portraits of men and women of the people, offering a partially descriptive study of native populations. Upon his return to France in 1763, he used these works in various artistic domains. While his works won him a certain renown, the fortune of his work suffered when this fashion ran out of steam at the end of the century. Occasionally revived in the field of art objects, the posterity of russeries has been minor, although the ethnographic dimension of Jean-Baptiste Le Prince’s work, which was novel in the register of exoticism, foreshadowed the scientific research of the nineteenth century.
While the discovery of America in 1492 was a cultural and psychological shock for Europe, one that was echoed in Montaigne, the mythical “Cathay” of Asia had always been a part of Western imagination thanks to the Silk Road. The exchange that developed beginning in the seventeenth century established direct contact with this “other,” whose difference was both surprising and captivating, and whose representations primarily express an Orient ( “The East”) dreamt up by Europeans.
The fluctuating identity of Gypsies was built gradually after their arrival in Western Europe during the fifteenth century. Despite a certain fascination they were considered as professionals of nomadism, theft, vagrancy, and trickery, so much so that an increasingly repressive legislative arsenal was implemented to dislocate their groups. The figure of the fortune-teller partially embodies the prejudices and stereotypes that have fueled the European imagination towards Gypsies up to the present day. The reprobate culture of their curious science of chiromancy was nevertheless assimilated by scholarly Europe. The success of treatises on physiognomy and chiromancy were inspired by the “Egyptian knowledge” that the Gypsies brought into Europe. The strange, popular, and oral science of chiromancy practiced by the Bohémiennes [female Bohemians] stood in contrast to the learned chiromancy of scholars. In this sense, Gypsy culture influenced and became a part of the culture of scholarly Europe.
The European economic project was the foundation of the first European communities which brought together six states in North-western Europe. The European Customs Union coincided with the period of the Trente Glorieuses and enjoyed continued success until the “energy crisis” of the early 1970s. After the end of the Cold War, the Maastricht Treaty proposed a new order for Europe with the creation of an Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) as well as the European Union, which counted 25 states in May 2004. The early years of the twenty-first century were marked by numerous turbulent episodes that made the success of the EU’s initial economic project more difficult.
Reformist and Christian trade unionisms accompanied the construction of the European Community, as opposed to “Marxist” confederations which saw it as an instrument of oppression and war against the socialist camp. The gradual implementation of the European market subsequently raised problems for trade unions, and dialogue with European institutions was affected as a result. Yet at the same time, this Single Market promoted the rise of a reformist unionism based on expertise, to the detriment of a unionism based on confrontation.
Nineteenth and twentieth century Europe was the continent of political crises par excellence Episodes of European protest (1848, 1918-1919, 1968, 1989) were characterized by their recurrence, continental scope, universalist dimension and profoundly transnational character. While these political crises were never strictly speaking European crises, they nevertheless contributed to the construction and diffusion of a public sphere, as well as of a political model and culture partly shared by European nations.