One of the most revealing ways to perceive European history is by examining its persistent and complex changes and transfigurations as symptoms of a dynamic process of development which has a tendency to reshape not only reality, but also its ideas and images. It is not surprising, then, that recent analyses of the contemporary European situation have tended to focus on the effects of the major transformations that are taking place in society: the transition to a post-industrial economy, the steep rise in the flow and networks of communication and goods; the increase in the mobility of people, specifically the resurgence of immigration (and the resulting intensification of the debate on the conditions of integration, but also of control and legality); and the impacts of economic, technological and cultural globalization. These are just some examples which reinforce the idea that we are facing significant (and in some cases radical) changes in living conditions and social and cultural structures in Europe. A perception that has recently been accentuated by the grave economic and political crisis which has had devastating consequences for society, instigating new fronts of fragmentation in the European space and the emergence of new types of phenomena and of conflict.
The intention is to encourage consideration and analysis of the signs (themes, situations, behaviour, phenomena) which indicate processes of reflection, readjustment and alteration of the concepts and categories, and the images and the representations, which we habitually associate with Europe’s many different realities. At the same time it is important to recognize that this endeavour also implies ascertaining the circumstances of the gaze and the corresponding interpretations which make it possible to develop and articulate with respect to these same signs.