Focus 1 : European circulations : Europe as a product of material civilization

Europe at night.
Europe at night. Extract of “Earth at night”, Black Marble project, 2012.
Source : NASA

The European Union defines itself as a space of ‘free flows’: of people, goods, services and capital. These flows, in turn, are structured by diverse material and institutional regimes and networks, giving shape to many different ‘Europes’. In addition European flows overlap and intersect with national, regional and global flows. Taking this on board, Strand 1 of LabEx EHNE, Europe as a product of material civilisation, conceives of Europe as a series of successive configurations of space, shaped by a permanent dynamic of integration and fragmentation. Analysis is focused on the fundamental determining factors of these dynamics, the successive structures they produce, and the interconnections they generate.

Research is divided into sub-strands that focus on three important sectors and the interactions between them.

Energy is analysed as a determining factor in successive spaces of material civilization and forms of social life (thought, work, travel, communication). Successive models of energy supply and the transitions between them will also be analysed in terms of the cumulative effects, notably in the political sphere, of the stresses generated in all eras by the continued scarcity of energy resources.

Specific themes to be analysed are:

  • Energy and raw materials – transitions in energy regimes
  • Social acceptance of risk
  • Energy dependence and independence particularly between Western Europe and Eastern and Central Europe

The sub-strand Mobility concentrates on the flow of people and merchandise as supports for markets. It analyses them both from the point of view of the real economy as ell as the institutions and policies for controlling them. We approach the latter by analysing the patterns of development in European economic space and its extensions in a world economy long dominated by Europe. We seek to highlight the interplay of actors, both public and private entities, that structure economic spaces.

Specific themes explored are:

  • Identifying mobile users: citizens, consumers, mediators ;
  • The production of mobilities, approached at the intersection of issues of logistics, the construction of infrastructures, polarization and metropolitisation of territories as well as the development of intermodal co-ordination.

Communication supports the flows of all nature that energize European space, determining the contours and the modes of European integration within the world. In recognition of this, this sub-strand analyses networks as space-structuring elements by exploring how they are mapped, the ways of life they enable and the means by which they are governed. In analysing these processes, the sub-strand mobilizes recent work on technocratic internationalism and Europeanism.

The key themes examined are:

  • European informatics
  • Governance of networks and standards
  • Users and customers between markets and geopolitics
  • Advertising

The team

  • Alain BELTRAN, Directeur de recherche au CNRS
  • Mathieu FLONNEAU, Maître de conférences en histoire contemporaine, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Pascal GRISET, Professeur (Histoire des Techniques) Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV
  • Leonard LABORIE, Chargé de recherche CNRS
  • Cécile WELKER

Contact: labexehne1[at]

Research notebook :