With so much attention by activists worldwide on current US imperialism, few have questioned the recent expansionism of the European Union (EU) and its continued neo-colonialist policies. What is worse, the EU has been treated as if it were a more humane alternative to the latest version of US capitalism, so that the present prevailing strategy among most mainstream “left” circles is to support the EU project as a counterbalance to US hegemony. This strategy fails to consider the capitalist underpinnings of the EU, its consequent imperialistic tendencies and practices, and its complicity with and active support for American military aggression worldwide. The eastward “enlargement” of the EU on 1st May 2004 (and the usurpation of Labour Day) is part of an expansionistic strategy of major segments of both the Western and Eastern European bourgeoisie for retaining, if not increasing their core status in the capitalist world-system.  The majority of Eastern Europe and its relatively low-waged, largely precarious workforce will, according to the Lisbon Strategy,  be largely sacrificed, eventually along with their Western European counterparts, to bring about a “competitive, dynamic, and knowledge-based economy”.
The lengthy process of this eastward enlargement has received much attention since the early 1990s, leading to the establishment of entire research programmes dedicated to resolving the technical aspects of transforming state structures and social relations to suit evolving EU institutions, addressing ongoing discord over the degree of EU centralisation and the timing and economic expenditures of expansion.  Beyond attending to feasibility issues, academic and policy circles alike express an overwhelming enthusiasm for the enlargement project as creating the conditions for long-term stability, peace, security, and prosperity. In less ideological circles, the EU is viewed as the only “appropriate context” for challenging the global predominance of “neoliberalism”. The enlargement process is deemed an important inclusionary project that, if properly accomplished, will avoid “eastern” applicants becoming “embittered by exclusion”,  a view ironically shared by The Economist, which criticises the process as insufficiently market-driven.  This assessment agrees with those that surmise a probable convergence in economic development between new entrants and established EU members through internal redistribution (Structural Fund) policies. 
These views ignore the military aspects of EU enlargement. Less publicised, but no less important, is the induction of seven more Eastern European states into NATO,  the internally embattled and geopolitically centrifugal armed wing of the EU (see my earlier work on the topic, published in 2001).  While this institution enables the US Empire to attenuate Western European expansionism, it simultaneously functions as a preliminary stage to EU accession. Though mentioned in passing here, the issue of NATO expansion and its overlap with the EU is crucial to understanding the geopolitics of EU enlargement, but it will not form part of this discussion.  Suffice it to say that the failure to connect EU and NATO expansion as part of the same overall project of reapportioning Eastern Europe, following the collapse of the USSR, attests to the lack of attentiveness to interrelated longer-term and larger-scale phenomena on the part of most scholars and activists.
This feeble intellectual resistance is probably linked to predominant political platforms and projects that reduce current political options to either more or less restrained forms of global capitalism. While the latter free-marketeering path is completely uncritical, the former reformist route is no less problematic (witness the recent election campaigns in Europe, where the content of “left” and “right” platforms is nearly indistinguishable, as in the US, and even fused, as currently in Germany). The present situation invokes the failures of earlier social democratic and welfarist paths that created the conditions for neoliberalism in the first place (and for unprecedented devastation through warfare, in the early twentieth century). Moreover, even using mainstream indicators, the optimism shown by the reformist convergence argument conveniently overlooks the chasm in health indicators and regional per capita GDP (even wider than that of the US) between the wealthiest and poorest EU member states, as well as widening gaps according to gender, ethnicity, and age. It also elides the EU’s reproduction of these disparities for the rest of the world through economic coercion (e.g., ‘structural adjustment’) and occasionally warfare.  Apparently, the more critical intellectual circles find it acceptable to enmesh most of humanity, directly or indirectly, in this ‘European project’ of durable inequalities, with promises of political and economic rewards that are touted as better than the narrow alternatives that are allowed to be contemplated publicly. 
This forfeiting of much critical reasoning is commensurate with the unabashed support of most intellectuals for the transposition, through enlargement, of EU norms (the accession criteria), albeit phrased officially in the most effulgent of terms: the ‘free market’ (i.e., capitalism, social inequality), ‘democracy’ (i.e., the liberal variant with minimal citizen representation), and ‘common rules, standards, and policies’ (that mostly apply to weaker states, see below, and that are often, as EU ‘directives’, not implemented at all),  reasoning as they do from preclusive, self-contained, and/or self-referential sets of liberal ideological premises.   The actual aims of the EU are therefore far from shrouded in secrecy and the expansionistic character of the EU (the diffusion of capitalism, “democracy”, and Eurocentric norms) is not only beyond dispute, but it is even celebrated. It should nevertheless be hardly controversial to point out that EU enlargement constitutes a general effort at reducing already modest political accountability and welfare provisions and at expanding and concentrating wealth for the few by conquering and securing new markets.  Yet even if one were unwilling to accept the obvious, the tasks that are hardly addressed are of determining the form of this expansionism or ‘enlargement’ (as opposed to others), of examining the actual practices and multiple-scale consequences associated with it, and of explaining its underlying causes. Below I discuss the nature and geopolitical aspects of the EU as an institutional entity and the repercussions of enlargement for both the expanded EU itself and the former and current colonies of many of the EU member states. The EU and its enlargement constitute the latest gendered and racialised imperialistic and colonising strategy of political economic elites for disciplining workers and accumulating capital to increase competitiveness in the world-system.
The EU Enlargement and Integration Processes as Global Competitive Strategy
An initial approach to understand the EU as an institutional entity would be to define it. Official statements, however, are unequivocally ambiguous:
The European Union (EU) is a family of democratic European countries, committed to working together for peace and prosperity. It is not a State intended to replace existing states, but it is more than any other international organisation. The EU is, in fact, unique. Its Member States have set up common institutions to which they delegate some of their sovereignty so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level. 
The EU is a unique institutional form, though one is neither informed specifically what is unique about it, nor what sort of political entity it is. The amorphous nature of official description probably betrays the evolving struggles among states and fractions of capital, interspersed with variegated social pressures from below, with respect to sovereignty and formal political structure. Perhaps the EU’s uniqueness is due to “democratic” decision-making processes at the “European level”; however, the bulk of EU institutions, as at the national scale, are not even comprised of elected officials. Given how the word ‘democracy’ liberally peppers discussions about the EU, especially in conjunction with complaints regarding the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’, this is not too trifling an issue even to those that think of democracy largely in terms of formal structures of representation through the occasional ballot box and referendum and through the activity of political professionals, all within the sacrosanct infrastructure of the state, most of which is not accountable to the average citizen. Nor is the delegation of sovereignty as voluntary as might be suggested, considering, for example, the financial influence the Bundes Bank exerts on the economic affairs of other member countries or the political effects of foreign direct investment in Greece and Portugal from the core economies of Western Europe. The latest exemptions granted for French and German government deficits, compared to the penalisation of the Portuguese counterpart, which must instead abide by the strictures of monetary union, hardly demonstrate any such voluntarism or equanimity in matters of sovereignty.
So the dominance of certain national states over others, the serving of specific interests to the detriment of other members, the lack of even much ‘representative democracy’, among other problems, should make it clear that the EU is not exactly what it is officially claimed to be.  Numerous (mis)understandings of the EU have been circulating that attempt to make sense of this evolving, officially dissembled institutional arrangement. These assessments range from legalistic and institutional depictions to geopolitical and political economic interpretations.
Some attest that the EU “is a legal construct comprising, as of the year 2000, fifteen countries” that, since the 1980s, can be characterised as an international actor with a degree of decisionary autonomy, a major impact on inter-statal relations, and political significance recognised by most states.  In this sense, one could argue that the EU is akin to an inter-statal coordinating institution such as the IMF or the World Bank, but with less direct representation for large capital. But if it were a mere legal construct, one would expect a constant potential for its dissolution or reorganisation (and without much difficulty, were it to occur). The fact is that national institutions have been rearranged such that a greater degree of political economic interdependence has been achieved, albeit largely under the influence of French and German states as the core of the EU. 
It is becoming increasingly clear to many that the EU is a geopolitical actor with imperial characteristics and an internal centre and periphery. The centralisation process common to state systems is thwarted by the membership’s diversity of state forms, which contributes to the relative institutional uniqueness and contingent internal unity of the EU as a geopolitical actor.  These arguments, however, ignore the economic elite interests and the wider social struggles, including cultural practices, behind the expansionistic tendency of the EU.
The EU has also been interpreted as a project involving the reorganisation of state capacities and formal political structures at multiple levels so as to increase global competitiveness. Such a project is the result of a decreasing reliance, since the 1980s, on vertical political integration and the national scale (“decentralisation”) for state functions so as to achieve greater international economic competitiveness, even if at the expense of social welfare. The proliferation of regionalisms and horizontal networks would be a manifestation of this reorganisation of political institutions or “politics of scale”.
This interpretation accords with recent analyses that view the current evolution of the national state as reflecting worldwide shifts in capital accumulation strategies in an era of “globalisation”. Much decision-making, especially of late, is not made at intra-national levels.  Witness, for instance, the global diffusion of neo-liberal imperatives and the imposition of ‘structural adjustment’ on the poorer countries by more powerful governments, including EU members, via the IMF and other such institutions and even through the EU itself. The global shift acquires even more social meaning with its accompanying impositions of macroeconomic austerity, precarious employment, and reductions in welfare provisions, among other measures used to discipline an otherwise recalcitrant population. 
These global and intra-national realities express actually existing arrangements between mostly Western, and now also Eastern European countries finally being formalised through integration and accession respectively. Codification (laws, regulations, etc.), itself a social practice, is typically both a laggard and complicating excrescence of other established social practices. Ex post facto, it reflects predominant norms resulting from social struggles (mainly external to governmental arenas), while it impedes and/or facilitates, depending on social agent and historical context, other forms of social action. The debate over the EU constitution, for instance, should be regarded as such a dialectical unfolding. Arguably, so should the entire edifice of the EU, based largely as it is on shifting agreements among member states and actual impositions by more powerful states of the boundaries of sovereignty and the development of the acquis communautaire.
As Böröcz explains, the EU, as a meta-state, enacts and develops its geopolitical position of power through the following interrelated mechanisms (which I slightly reinterpret): (1) a reduction in citizens’ already exiguous influence on the national state’s legislative organs through the relocation of decision-making processes involved in elaborating and imposing the acquis communautaire out of voting reach; (2) an integration with other intergovernmental organisations (e.g., NATO, the World Bank) and coordination with national member governments to mobilise, albeit vicariously, an otherwise lacking executive apparatus and to project political economic power beyond its official boundaries (this also ensures that external military interventions and macroeconomic policies are decided without the consultation of national parliaments, much less citizens); (3) the global reach and activities of large corporations based in the EU (e.g., Daimler Benz, British Petroleum); and (4) the imposition of legal frameworks and economic restructuring through the eastward enlargement process, which I view as an outgrowth of the second and third inherently expansionistic mechanisms, rather than a mechanism itself.  In this light, it seems most appropriate to interpret the EU as a competitive and disciplinary strategy involving multiple powerful core national states and their semi-peripheral ‘vassals’, including now those in Eastern Europe (which, though lost to many in the predominant overweening orientalising discourse, includes Austria, Finland, and Sweden). It is for these reasons, at least, that the EU might more effectively be thought of as a large-scale and ongoing imperial political strategy for building new institutions and rearranging national states to discipline workers globally so as to extract and centralise greater profits and compete more successfully with other core empires, namely the US and Japan. 
The Global Competitive Strategy of an Evolving Imperial Institution
The expansionistic character of spreading ‘democracy’ and the ‘free-market’, not to mention the shifting and accumulating acquis communautaire, might invoke negative connotations if equated with imperialism. Yet understanding the EU as an imperialistic venture should not be shocking to the reader, if it is understood that there exist many imperial forms, some of them more militaristic and extortionate than others. There is a plethora of theory on the causes of imperialism and it is beyond the task here to review the relevant literature and explain the causes of EU expansionism in particular. Böröcz  has already delineated the reasons for regarding the EU as an empire, as a polity integrating diverse and previously independent societies or creating new ones, and the latest ‘eastward’ expansion as a process of colonisation. 
In particular, several aspects of the EU accord with imperial forms established since the 18th century, if not earlier. Imperialism, as understood here, does not necessarily entail violent conquest or the establishment of colonies, which are but two kinds of empire-building activity. Imperial expansion can feature concurrent or disjointed combinations of (1) unequal exchange, (2) coloniality through either settler or missionary colonialism, and (3) export of governmentality or administrative colonialism, all within an overall geopolitical strategy that may include warfare.  The juxtaposition of these colonial elements within an overall imperial strategy renders the EU enlargement process superficially contradictory and internally heterogeneous, but there should be little confusion here. The overarching geopolitical strategy is reflected in promoting enlargement as an official long-term project, in waging war on Yugoslavia, in providing contingent assistance to the rest of Eastern Europe, and in using an accession hierarchy as a divide and conquer tactic. The colonial rearrangements that support the imperial strategy are evident through the following dynamics:  (1) the accumulation of capital in the EU via the control of former state-socialist economies with the expansionism of national fractions of capital (unequal exchange); (2) hierarchical cultural demarcations such as the construction of easternness during the accession process and the construction of Eastern European immigrant ‘invasions’ (coloniality);  and (3) the transposition of the acquis communautaire to applicant states (export of governmentality). The latter was even betrayed in Verheugen’s optimistic proclamations:
I am absolutely convinced that without the prospect of European integration, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe could not have managed the process of transformation so rapidly or so successfully. 
While administrative and institutional transposition is reinforced by capital flows, the new brand of imperialism is much less brutal than Enlightenment antecedents. Settler colonialism has been achieved instead with the migration of relatively wealthy EU citizens and businesses to ‘safe’ Eastern European countries (as occurred in Spain, Italy, and Greece earlier) to purchase property and/or exploit cheaper labour-power in Eastern Europe. There is even an aspect of missionary colonialism in the various EU-, NATO, and USAID-supported NGOs, inter alii, that diffuse the gospel of ‘free markets’, ‘democracy’ and ‘civil society’ among the masses of Eastern Europe. These forms of colonialism are being cemented by the concurrent process of integration into the EU’s circuit of capital. As Verheugen revealed regarding the economic impact of EU accession:
The European Union is by far the largest trading partner of the thirteen candidate countries. Between 1993 and 1999, the total value of trade almost trebled to €210 billion. Together, these countries account for 13.7 % of total foreign trade, a fact which makes them the EU’s second most important trading partner after the USA. The EU’s trade surplus with the candidate countries for 1999 stood at €25.8 billion. Trading relations between the EU and the candidate countries have become even more intensive. 
The enlargement and uneven character of trading relations establishes dependence and the extension of spheres of influence divided among major Western European states and fractions of capital. These diverse colonial processes, complicated by the state-capital relation, ensure an ambivalence and contestability within the functions and structures of the EU, its member states, and future applicants. The task of critical scholars, policy-makers, and activists should be to disentangle these surface complexities and explain what is entailed and what is at stake in these processes of integration and enlargement, rather than reinforce the dissimulation of official EU propaganda.
Implications of EU Expansionism
The EU, as imperial project, developed through the restructuring of the world-system since the early 1970s, even though it remained an inchoate tendency since the early twentieth century.  With the decline of the US-USSR conflict and a change to a finance-dominated world economy, the EU constitutes a recent strategy of social disciplining and capital accumulation for maintaining, if not gaining greater global competitiveness relative to other imperial powers. The basis of the EU’s wealth and political power rests on the harnessing of external processes and actors and on previous and ongoing colonial and imperial practices. The latest enlargement is the manifestation of the expansionistic character of the EU, while the intensification of control over the economies of former and existing colonies illustrates the continuity of the EU with the imperial and colonial pasts of nearly half its member states (12 out of 25). 
The social repercussions of this enlargement process are therefore profound. The dismantling of social welfare, monetarist policies, and the privatisation of state assets enable the concentration and centralisation of wealth, while political decision-making processes are increasingly removed from parliamentary control and policing and militarization are intensified. Such processes are being enforced not only within the expanded EU borders, but simultaneously within the periphery, through imposition of structural adjustment programmes and indebtedness, the undermining of economic activities through protectionist measures, direct and indirect military intervention, and draconian immigration controls, among other developments. These realities should only be surprising to those that believe in the propaganda of a benevolent or beneficial EU. As a geopolitical entity, the EU is steeped in the maintenance of the capitalist world-system and the patriarchal and racist social structures that sustain it.
Notwithstanding the global effects of EU expansionism, very little has been written on the significance of EU enlargement to other parts of the world, much less about the existing colonies under the control of several EU member states. The unfortunate tendency has been to nearly ignore the fact that the EU is comprised of countries that have historically accumulated capital and developed international military and political prowess through imperialism and colonialism.  This trend in mainstream scholarship is particularly disturbing, seeing that the imperial background of many of the EU member states has not been lost even to conventional journalistic outfits such as The Economist.  Despite the clear implications of EU enlargement for the world-system periphery, few writers have concentrated on the EU’s connections with the former and current colonies or with ‘developing countries’, save for occasional superficial treatments about the changing formal status of existing ‘dependencies’.  Though very limited, these studies describe how the EU’s internal agricultural and foreign aid policies, for instance, have impacted and continue to impact the political and economic structures of poorer countries. 
These policies have often helped support dictatorial regimes that were strategically useful to the main EU powers (and other core countries). The EU has also been actively involved in regional integration schemes, particularly along the Mediterranean. With the fall of the USSR, EU interventionism has been modified so as to maintain its political legitimacy both internally and externally and EU foreign assistance is increasingly contingent on meeting certain preconditions. So, for instance, the European Commission, in 1995, formulated several preconditions for the implementation of regional integration initiatives, such as the ‘rule of law’, ‘democracy’, ‘peace and security’, ‘macroeconomic stability’ and other such no less interventionist processes.  What is interesting about these recent aid contingencies is that high-ranking EU officials thereby acknowledge implicitly that such matters as ‘democracy’ were less important before the 1990s and that national elites in the periphery have less bargaining capacity since they have lost the option of defecting to the CMEA camp.
Lomé, Cotonou, and other “partnership” conventions actually reflect the power asymmetries between the EU and the periphery, which enable the EU’s unilateralism in setting agendas and conditions for assistance.  As one scholar has observed, “The reasoning behind the implementation of conditionality is clear; democracy is liberal democracy, liberal democracy is the only path to peace and prosperity, therefore Europe is the one and only entity which can monitor and guide the implementation of democracy”.  The parallels with the process of accession are striking,  although the ultimate result is the further marginalisation and greater pauperisation for the periphery, rather than its annexation, such as in the case of Eastern Europe, into a core area enriched through the spoils of centuries of imperial and colonial domination. At the same time, these preconditions for increasingly meagre amounts of assistance funds are but a thin disguise for imperial control, given the EU’s concomitant and more sustained policies aimed at coercing the periphery into opening markets to foreign capital while the EU retains protectionist barriers.  As Böröcz reminds us, the EU is much more than the sharing and pooling of sovereignty; “The EU shares and pools in its member states’ colonial loot, and the applicant pool is now asking for a share,”  and large flows of investment and aid are one component of this vicarious loot.
The neo-colonial linkage between the major EU member states and most of the rest of the world is pitifully lost on most scholars, if they do not participate themselves in reinforcing it outright in their writings. The colonialist past is treated, mostly in a subtle manner, as if it were either irrelevant to the current expansion or superseded by more recent historical events. For example, one author claims that “The decolonisation process led the [European] Community and the newly independent countries to seek new ways to cooperate”.  There seems to be very little compunction in this literature in erasing centuries of violence and oppression and persisting postcolonial exploitation. Others ingenuously see the EU as a unifying force for “Europe” that “could use its understanding and history of relations with the South to promote the South’s interests in the international arena” or “as a champion of the developing countries in a world which has largely marginalized them”, despite the “undignified rush for colonies in the last decades of the nineteenth century” and the continuing EU policies that systematically maintain and reinforce global inequalities.  Representation being already problematic on local and national scales, one wonders to whose “interests” the author could be alluding and whether the author has ever considered the history of internal conflicts and heterogeneity in the “South” that give rise to the interests of the elite few being repeatedly served at the expense of those of the many.
Coercion, Plunder, and Accumulation in the Development and Expansion of the EU
The recent eastward push therefore marks the geographical extension of a mercantilist (protectionist) project of economic integration and regional bloc formation that began with the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951. With the rising dominance of financial capital, abetted by a scramble for new markets resulting from the collapse of the USSR and the economic reforms in China in the late 1980s, the project has turned expressly toward demolishing the former welfare-based strategy of profit-rate maintenance for the elites of Western Europe in favour of greater market liberalisation and the consequent increase in the concentration and centralisation of wealth. The demolition of the social welfare model is evident in the convergence among member states demanded by the Maastricht Treaty (1991) regarding inflation control, public expenditure reduction, and price stabilisation, all of which acquire even greater intensity with monetary union. 
The recent eastward enlargement is consistent with the class-based, gendered, and racialised political processes behind this moulting of capital accumulation strategy, greater territorial reach and large-scale company mergers enabling global economic competitiveness. What this has immediately meant for the periphery in general and the former and current colonies of EU member states in particular (in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific regions) is the loss of much development assistance as more investments and aid have been redirected towards Eastern Europe and east Asia.  In addition, EU aid to the periphery is increasingly contingent upon the adoption of “free trade” agreements in accordance with WTO rules and in blatant contradiction with the EU’s own protectionist policies (e.g., the Common Agricultural Policy defeating the purposes of many agronomic financial and technical assistance programmes to encourage cash-crop exports). The EU enlargement has therefore already reverberated throughout current and former colonies. 
In the mainstream, the negative results of these policies are typically viewed as mere inconsistencies due to the “complexity” of EU decision-making processes and the mutual isolation of institutional cultures.  Yet development aid, especially since the early 1990s, has bolstered the profitability of large EU firms in the receiving countries, whereas the CAP, for instance, protects some of the same firms from external market competitors. This is what has been called a ‘recolonisation’ process, whereby the geopolitics of aid and investment has shifted towards a neoliberal agenda, to the detriment of the periphery, through the introduction of political and economic preconditions for loans and aid and through the increase of pressures for state asset privatisation and market liberalisation.  These policies have allowed large-scale capital from the EU to exert greater control over resource extraction and processing and investment security in the periphery, through direct military intervention if necessary (e.g., French troops in the Ivory Coast and Haiti). Given that much previous development aid sustained corrupt dictatorial regimes throughout the periphery, another interpretation of the redirection of EU funds towards Eastern Europe could be that eastward enlargement has drained substantial bribery resources away from the elites of the periphery, precipitating a loss of legitimacy for some of those regimes and increasing the likelihood of uprisings.
The European Union as ‘Europe': Ideological Constructs for a New Empire
Given the enormity of what is at stake with respect to the EU’s enlargement, the least that must be undertaken in intellectual work is the debunking of prevailing liberal ideologies on the EU so as to facilitate the articulation of political alternatives for a socially egalitarian ‘Europe’ that contributes constructively to the rest of the world, rather than through warfare and exploitation. Scholarly work has instead liberally contributed to conflating the EU with ‘Europe’ in a sort of sordid metonymy (using a word that is part of an entity to mean the entire entity itself); this is part of an exclusionary institutional language (as part of a discourse) with respect not only to other European countries, but with the rest of the colonised world without which ‘Europe’ could not even be contemplated.
The metonymic practice, aside from culturally inscribing the actual existence of militarily patrolled borders, forms part of a larger colonial discourse, whereby a set of institutions, the EU in this case, is identified as the pinnacle of progress, ‘Europe’, building upon a relatively recent myth emerging from the militarily empowering recrudescence of capitalism, industrialisation, and national states in what is largely the western part of Europe.  This colonial discourse has therefore a necessarily geographical character, as it pertains to the territorial expansion of a (geo)political entity largely representing some of the economically and militarily strongest national states in the world. The struggles involved in the development and delineation of control over physical spaces and the restrictions and facilitation of specific flows (e.g., facilitating investment flows and restricting immigrant entry) emerge through what Neil Smith has described as the “production of scale”, whereby the scale of societal processes are restructured and reorganised as the effect of political struggles and power relations and, in this case, as part of the economic and political expansion of the EU.  These processes underpin the cultural construction of place boundaries (e.g., Europe as a place represented by the EU) and images of space (e.g., the EU as “progress”), to which scholars of all stripes blissfully revel in contributing.
It is then a veritable irony to find some geographers themselves adopting colonial constructions of place and confusing scales, collapsing an entire continent into one region, with such farcical titles as “Poland: a return to Europe”.  But confusions of scale are not limited to a fictional coextensiveness of region and continent. Other aspects of coloniality infuse the EU accession proceedings. So, one learns that, “Proud of its role in European history and Christianity, Poland views membership of the EU as fulfilling its historical destiny. But, given the structure of Polish society as ‘a partly traditional and partly industrialised society …, one should not assume that this is a universal view”.  Quoting here Weclawowicz, a Polish academic, the argument is redolent with modernist notions of progress to indicate how “traditional” segments of society might fetter the triumphant march of progress towards the country’s EU membership as “historical destiny”, as if the refounding of Poland in 1919 had anything to do with joining a then non-existent EU.
As in the writings of many other academics, Francis finds it necessary to efface social struggles within Poland in order to render the accession process intelligible to the colonising subject, local colonial functionaries, and an emergent comprador bourgeoisie. First, with a synecdoche, the author asserts the unity of the national state with the people living within its borders, as if an entire society can be reduced to the activities of state functionaries. Second, the social struggles underlying the accession process within Poland are mystified through the universalising dichotomy of “traditional” and “industrialised” societies, as if small-scale peasants and large estate owners or workers and bourgeoisie had the same interests, not to mention the social differentiation and tensions wrought through gender and ethnic relations.
The Effacement of Histories as Strategic Discursive Device
There are other practices that elide and efface, especially in official pronouncements. For the sake of brevity, I will discuss one egregious example. According to an introductory EU document, justification for the necessity of a European regional bloc derives from the moral imperative of avoiding mass conflict.
The historical roots of the European Union lie in the Second World War. The idea of European integration was conceived to prevent such killing and destruction from ever happening again. It was first proposed by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in a speech on 9 May 1950. This date, the ‘birthday’ of what is now the EU, is celebrated annually as Europe Day. 
Proponents of European integration typically point to its peaceful prospects without elucidating on the relationship between integration and war prevention. Aside from this astonishing non sequitur, the major implication is that of an utter disregard for human lives outside the EU’s borders, oblivious to the fact, for instance, that the Second World War involved many parts of the world outside of ‘Europe’. Instead, such proponents are wilfully engaged in conflicts in other parts of the world that the EU states are themselves abetting or instigating, such as currently in Afghanistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, and Iraq. The actual meaning of this mandate therefore becomes clear when considering the EU’s practices, especially those of the more powerful EU member states.
But even the area of ‘Europe’ that is supposedly being integrated is not immune to this deadly subjection of elision. For instance, shortly before its 49th birthday, the EU, under the aegis of NATO, had little compunction in joining the bombing and military occupation of Yugoslavia. This sort of ‘integration’ mechanism for ‘Europe’ should be seen as a clear contradiction and yet the solution of mass indiscriminate murder through bombing raids remains acceptable to most EU citizens. This widespread consent is partially attributable to the legitimacy conferred to linguistic expressions associated with the state and to the monopolisation of means of communication. This kind of outcome makes the analysis and rebuttal of official constructs socially important, provided it is widely distributed in public arenas. Unfortunately, to date, the bulk of intellectuals combine effectively with state officials to persuade the public of the moral rectitude of this kind of violence, cynically raising spectres of genocide and constructing dehumanising stereotypes of Serbs. 
There are other hypocrisies one could bring to the attention of the public and thereby attempt to create a forum to counter the real aims of an imperial institution called the EU. The French government arming of Hutu extremists combined with a lack of EU intervention in the Rwandan genocide. Germany’s active fomenting of secession within Yugoslavia expedited the Yugoslav civil war, while the EU did not intervene against Croatian, Albanian, and Bosnian nationalist extremists to the same level as against their Serbian counterparts. All these practices should amply demonstrate the actual meaning of the phrase “to prevent such killing and destruction from ever happening again”. It is largely an attempt at preventing warfare among core European countries, minimising inter-imperial contradictions while expanding collective imperial reach for mutual benefit.
The Empire’s Self-exonerating Narratives: Imperial Annexation, Modernism, and Postcoloniality
It is not by accident that such constructs and elisions recur in academic and official EU literature. Their abundance and repetition in the media mirror the successful strategy of the US Bush administration employed to legitimise the military devastation and invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. They are part of a rhetorical arsenal whereby the moral superiority of the ‘west’ is affirmed through a narrative of innocence.  The EU discourse described above, which posits expansion as in the fundamental interest of all inhabitants of candidate countries, is essential for justifying EU imperial expansion. The matter is even put as if citizens were somehow represented by national states and political and economic elites (never mind the actually existing monopoly over the means of coercion by the few, the tendency of national states to represent elite interests, and the manipulation of the means of distribution and presentation of political issues, just to name a handful of empirical problems).
The sort of wilful public amnesia involved in the EU expansion process is largely a product of the institutionalised colonialist language about Eastern Europe within the EU as well as among accession countries’ institutions and elites. The pattern is historically continuous with the expansionism of Western European powers since at least the 18th century, through which the entire world is presented as a nested hierarchy featuring (North)western European cultures at the apex and centre of that world, corresponding to actual asymmetrical relations of power between cores and peripheries at multiple scales.  The concrete effects of pervasive resistance, cooptation, and cultural shifts incurred through largely (Western) European invasions, multiple genocides, and recurring expropriations of territory and resources have imposed a global unitary differentiation that still renders such (largely Western) Eurocentric mythologies resonant with self-evident truth, upon which EU and other European elites thrive. Given the popularity of European exceptionalism, activists must also concentrate their efforts towards showing the connections between EU expansion and global exploitation, including within “Europe”, drawing from the experiences of anti-colonial struggles in the capitalist world-system’s poorer countries. 
To put it very succinctly and bluntly, therefore, “Europe” (the ideological term of reference for what is really the Western EU, as Andre Gunder Frank often underlined), as a political-economic as well as a cultural (neonationalistic?) unit, could not possibly exist without the plunder of resources from both the periphery of the world economy and its internal peripheries, be it achieved via economic or military means. In order to maintain their wealth, largely white male capitalist elites expand the possibilities of capital accumulation by further dividing workers worldwide through, among other strategies, divisive legal frameworks (e.g., the status of migrants and the Schengen Treaty) and differential allocation of the means to livelihood (e.g., the distribution of salaries), while simultaneously protecting themselves from other elites through a variety of instruments largely available only to core state institutions, such as effective protectionist measures, self-serving international financial regimes (e.g., a main function of the IMF), cooptation through contingent economic aid, and direct and indirect military intervention. The successful implementation of these kinds of strategies is, arguably, what enables EU propaganda to retain political leverage or even any credibility, given the prevalent effacement of history and self-exonerating narratives in mainstream discussions on the EU (comparable, in the US, to the discursive elision of multiple genocides, slavery, ongoing racism, and constant warfare as the basis of American wealth and high consumption levels). Yet these descriptive statements should be unremarkable and empirically obvious to the reader. What is outrageous is that, in the mainstream, they are not. This is thanks in no small part to the ongoing propaganda that obfuscates the exploitative and imperialistic basis of the EU.
1. The new entrants are the southern part of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia; A. Bieler, Globalisation and Enlargement of the European Union. Austrian and Swedish Social Forces in the Struggle over Membership (London: Routledge, 2000); W. Bonefeld, ‘European Monetary Union: Ideology and Class’, in W. Bonefeld, ed., The Politics of Europ: Monetary Union and Class (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 64-106; G. Carchedi, ‘The EMU, Monetary Crises, and the Single European Currency’, in W. Bonefeld, ed., The Politics of Europe: Monetary Union and Class (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 37-63; G. Carchedi, For Another Europe (New York: Verso, 2001); G. A. Frank, ‘What Went Wrong in the ‘Socialist’ East?’, 1994,
2. European Council, ‘Presidency Conclusions Lisbon European Council 23 and 24 March 2000′ 2000,
3. P. Reuber and G. Wolkersdorfer, ‘The Transformation of Europe and the German Contribution – Critical Geopolitics and Geopolitical Representations’, Geopolitics 7, No.3, 2002, 41.
4. S. Moisio, ‘EU Eligibility, Central Europe, and the Invention of Applicant State Narrative’, Geopolitics 7, No.3, 2002, 113.
5. The Economist, ‘The Joys of Enlargement’, The Economist 371, No. 8370, 2004, 52; D. Lawday, ‘The Return of the Habsburgs’, The Economist 337, No. 7941, 1995, 5-8.
6. V. Bornschier, M. Herkenrath and P. Ziltener, ‘Political and Economic Logic of Western European Integration’, European Societies 6, No. 1, 2004, 71-96.
7. These are Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia (http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2004/04-april/e0402a.htm, last consulted 26 April, 2004). This raises the EU-NATO double membership to 19 countries.
8. S. Engel-Di Mauro, ‘The Enduring National State: NATO-EU Relations, EU Enlargement, and the Reapportionment of the Balkans’, in J. Böröcz and M. Kovács, eds., Empire’s New Clothes: Unveiling EU Enlargement, Central European Review, 2001, 179-217,
9. S. Amin, ‘Confronting the Empire’, Monthly Review 55, No. 3, 2003, 15-22; A. Callinicos, ‘The Contradictions of European Monetary Union’, in W. Bonefeld, ed., The Politics of Europe. Monetary Union and Class (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 10-36; J. Halevi and Y. Varoufakis, ‘The Global Minotaur’ Monthly Review 55, No. 3, 2003, 57-75; I. Wallerstein, ‘U.S. Weakness and the Struggle for Hegemony’, Monthly Review 55, No.3, 2003, 23-9.
10. Amin, ‘Confronting the Empire'; S. Arber, ‘Gender Inequalities in European Societies Today’, in T.P. Boje, B. van Steenbergen and S. Walby, eds., European Societies. Fusion or Fission? (London: Routledge, 1999) 66-83; S. De Rynk and P. McAleavy, ‘The Cohesion Deficit in Structural Fund policy’, Journal of European Public Policy 8, No. 4, 2001, 541-57; M. Haynes, ‘The European Union and its Periphery: Inclusion and Exclusion’, in W. Bonefeld, ed., The Politics of Europe. Monetary Union and Class (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 136-69; HVG (Heti Világ Gazdaság), ‘Szegények és gazdagok [The Poor and the Rich]’, Heti Világ Gazdaság 3, No. 14, April 2004, 60; V. M. Moghadam, ed., Patriarchy and Economic Development. Women’s Positions at the End of the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996); G. Oberansmayr, Auf dem Weg zur Supermacht. Die Militarisierung der Europäischen Union (Vienna: Promedia, 2004); M. Shaw and S. Orford, ‘Widening Inequality in Mortality between 160 Regions of 15 European Countries in the Early 1990s’, Social Science and Medicine 50, No.7/8, 2000, 1047-58; J. Vogel, ‘Income and Material Living Standards’, Social Indicators Research 64, No.3, 2003, 33-50.
11. C. Tilly, Durable Inequality (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 126.
12. See also
13. On the rare occasion that such scholars venture outside established political philosophy, societal caricatures (‘Marxist economies’, ‘Totalitarianism’, ‘Communism’) are dangled in front of readers, like menacing scarecrows warning of the abject failures that the alternatives to the bourgeois order inevitably bring.
14. D. Dinan, Ever Closer Union: An Introduction to European Integration (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1999), 188-189; J. Harrop, The Political Economy of Integration in the European Union (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2000), 296, 300; J. Gillingham, European Integration, 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), xii, 421; C. Jönsson, S. Tägil and G. Törnqvist, Organizing European Space (London: SAGE, 2000); L. Neal and D. Barbezat, The Economics of the European Union and the Economies of Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 364-365; P. A. Poole, Europe unites: The EU’s Eastern Enlargement (Westport: Praeger, 2003); W. Schäuble and K. Lamers, ‘Reflections on European Policy’, in B.F. Nelsen and A.C.G. Stubb, eds., The European Union: Readings on the Theory and Practice of European Integration (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1994), 15-25; B. Waites, ed., Europe and the Wider World (London: Routledge, 1995), 212-213.
15. Bieler, Globalisation and Enlargement; Bonefeld, ‘European Monetary Union'; J. Böröcz and M. Kovács, eds., Empire’s New Clothes: Unveiling Enlargement, Central European Review, 2001,
16. http://europa.eu.int/abc/index_en.htm, 12 November, 2003.
17. P. Aalto, ‘A European Political Subject in the Making? EU, Russia and the Kaliningrad Question’, Geopolitics 7, No. 3, 2002, 143; S. P. McGiffen, The European Union: A Critical Guide (London: Pluto Press, 2001); M. B. Williams, ‘Exporting the Democratic Deficit: Hungary’s Experience with EU Integration’, Problems of Post-Communism 48, No.1, 2001, 27-38.
18. C. Cosgrove-Sacks, ‘The EU as an International Actor’, in C. Cosgrove-Sacks, ed., Europe, Diplomacy and Development. New Issues in EU Relations with Developing Countries (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 5.
19. G. A. Frank, The European Challenge (Westbury: Lawrence Hill Publishers, 1984).
20. Aalto, ‘A European Political Subject'; K. Muller, ”Concentric Circles’ at the Periphery of the European Union’, Australian Journal of Politics and History 46, No.3, 2000, 322-35; S. Peters, ‘The ‘West’ Against the ‘Rest': Geopolitics after the End of the Cold War’, Geopolitics 4, No.3, 1999, 29-46; O. Tunander, ed., Geopolitics in Post-wall Europe: Security, Territory and Identity (London: SAGE, 1997).
21. J. Agnew, ‘From the Political Economy of Regions to Regional Political Economy’, Progress in Human Geography 24, No. 1, 2000, 101-110; P. Bourdieu, ‘On the Fundamental Ambivalence of the State’, Polygraph, an International Journal of Culture and Politics 10, 1998, 21-32; N. Brenner, ‘Between Fixity and Motion: Accumulation, Territorial Organization and the Historical Geography of Spatial Scales’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 16, 1998, 459-81; A. Negri, ‘What Can the State Still Do?’, Polygraph, an international journal of culture and politics 10, 1998, 9-20; S. Sassen, ‘Embedding the Global in the National: Implications for the Role of the State’ in D.A. Smith, D.J. Solinger and S.C. Topik, eds., States and Sovereignty in the Global Economy (London: Routledge, 1999), 158-171.
22. D. Harvey, Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996); Moghadam, Patriarchy and Economic Development; R. Peet and M. Watts, ‘Introduction: Development Theory and Environment in an Age of Market Triumphalism’, Economic Geography 69, 1993, 227-53.
23. J. Böröcz, ‘What is the EU?’, Paper presented at the CEEISA/RISA/NISA Conference in Moscow, June 2002, 5-8.
24. G. A. Frank, ‘Economic Ironies in Europe: A World Economic Interpretation of East-West European Politics’, International Social Science Journal 44, No. 1, 1992, 50.
25. J. Böröcz, ‘Introduction: Empire and Coloniality in the ‘Eastern Enlargement’ of the European Union’, in J. Böröcz and M. Kovács, eds., Empire’s New Clothes: Unveiling EU Enlargement, Central European Review, 2001, 17-18,
26. The earlier one of 1995 somehow did not require specification as to cardinal direction (Böröcz, ‘Introduction: Empire and Coloniality’, 6).
27. Böröcz, ‘Introduction: Empire and Coloniality'; J. L. Comaroff, ‘Images of Empire, Contests of Conscience: Models of Colonial Domination in South Africa’, in F. Cooper and A.L. Stoler, eds., Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 163-98. Engel-Di Mauro, 2001.
28. J. Böröcz, ‘From Comprador State to Auctioneer State: Property Change, Realignment, and Peripheralization in Post-state-socialist Central and Eastern Europe’, in D.A. Smith, D.J. Solinger and S.C. Topik, eds., States and Sovereignty in the Global Economy (London: Routledge, 1999), 193-209; J. Böröcz, ‘The Fox and the Raven: The European Union and Hungary Renegotiate the Margins of ‘Europe”, Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, No. 4, 2000, 847-76; C. Chase-Dunn and T. Boswell, The Spiral of Capitalism and Socialism: Toward Global Democracy (London: Lynne Rienner, 2000); B. Kagarlitsky, Restoration in Russia (London: Verso, 1995); A. L. Stoler and F. Cooper, ‘Between Metropole and Colony: Rethinking a Research Agenda’, in F. Cooperand A.L. Stoler, eds., Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 26-27.
29. Such fears are also coupled with hypocritical preoccupations with the Rom’s living conditions in the accession proceedings; improving the treatment of minorities forms part of the official conditions for EU membership, even though the Rom and immigrant minorities are denied basic human rights within many EU member states (many examples exist, among which the issue of citizenship for Turks and Kurds born in Germany, the rights to infrastructure access for Rom in Italy and Spain, the rights to political independence in Corsica, Basque country, Northern Ireland, and Sardegna). Moreover, minorities’ human rights in the accession process itself seem to shift in importance according to expediency. For instance, the denial of welfare rights for Rom in Slovakia and of citizenship for Croats, Serbs, and other minorities in Slovenia has, curiously, not impeded the accession of Slovakia and Slovenia into the EU.
30. G. Verheugen, ‘Enlargement is Irreversible’, Speech made in the capacity of Member of the European Commission responsible for Enlargement to the European Parliament, Strasbourg, 3 October, 2000.
31. G. Verheugen, ‘Strategy Paper, Accession Partnership with Turkey and Progress Reports’, Speech made in the capacity of Member of the European Commission responsible for Enlargement to the European Parliament, Brussels, 8 November, 2000.
32. A. Bordiga, ‘United states of Europa’, Prometeo 14, 1950,
33. The imperial background of 12 of the member states is represented by Austro-Hungarian, Belgian, British, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish empires.
34. Böröcz, ‘Introduction: Empire and Coloniality'; T. Chafer and N. Cooper, ‘Introduction’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies 11, No. 2, 2003, 159-66; P. Hansen, ‘European Integration, European identity and the Colonial connection’, European Journal of Social Theory 5, No. 4, 2002, 483-498.
35. The Economist, ‘The Shadow of Empires’, The Economist 369, No.8346, 2003, 54.
36. K. Muller, ‘Shadows of Empire in the European Union’, The European Legacy 6, No.4, 2001, 439-51.
37. Cosgrove-Sacks, ‘The EU as an International Actor’.
38. C. Santos, ‘European Union Support for Regional Integration Initiatives in Developing Countries’, in C. Cosgrove-Sacks, ed., Europe, Diplomacy and Development: New issues in EU Relations with Developing Countries (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 47.
39. S. R. Hurt, ‘Co-operation and Coercion? The Cotonou Agreement between the European Union and ACP States and the End of the Lomé Convention’, Third World Quarterly 24, No. 1, 2003, 161-76.
40. G. Brusco, ‘Eurocentrism and Political Conditionality: The Case of the Lomé Convention’, in C. Cosgrove-Sacks, ed., Europe, Diplomacy and Development. New issues in EU Relations with Developing Countries (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 108.
41. Böröcz and Kovacs, Empire’s New Clothes.
42. G. McCann, ‘Recolonisation by Stealth: Global Market Liberalisation and the EU’s Development Policy’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies 11, No. 2, 2003, 217, 227.
43. Böröcz, ‘Introduction: Empire and Coloniality’, 14.
44. Santos, ‘European Union Support’, 31.
45. M. Lister, The European Union and the South: Relations with Developing Countries (London: Routledge, 1997), 2, 26, 60, 63.
46. G. Arrighi, ‘Globalization, State Sovereignty, and the ‘Endless’ Accumulation of Capital’, in D.A. Smith, D.J. Solinger and S.C. Topik, eds., States and Sovereignty in the Global Economy (London: Routledge, 1999), 53-73; Bieler, Globalisation and Enlargement, 2; Bonefeld, ‘European Monetary Union’.
47. A. C. Reis Coutinho, ‘Coordination of the European Union’s Development Cooperation Policy: Analysis and Future Prospects’, in C. Cosgrove-Sacks, ed., Europe, Diplomacy and Development: New Issues in EU Relations with Developing Countries (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 232.
48. Lister, The European Union and the South.
49. A. Bell, ‘The Quest for Coherence between EU Policies: An Unattainable Goal?’, in C. Cosgrove-Sacks, ed., Europe, Diplomacy and Development: New issues in EU Relations with Developing Countries (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 207.
50. McCann, ‘Recolonisation by Stealth’, 222.
51. J. Kentor, Capital and Coercion: The Economic and Military Processes that Have Shaped the World Economy 1800-1990 (New York: Garland Publishing, 2000); C. Tilly, Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990-1992 (Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, 1992); L. Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization in the Mind of the Enlightenment (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994).
52. N. Smith, ‘Remaking Scale: Competition and Cooperation in Prenational and Postnational Europe’, in H. Eskelinen and F. Snickars, eds., Competitive European Peripheries (Berlin: Springer, 1995), 59-74.
53. A. Francis, ‘Poland: A Return to Europe’, in M. Mannin, ed., Pushing Back the Boundaries: The European Union and Central and Eastern Europe (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), 295-317.
54. Francis, ‘Poland: A Return to Europe’, 295-296.
55. http://europa.eu.int/abc/index_en.htm, last consulted 12 November, 2003.
56. P. Hammond and E.S. Herman, eds., Degraded Capability: The Media and the Kosovo Crisis (London: Pluto Press, 2000); R. Hayden, ‘Humanitarian Hypocrisy’, Jurist: The Law Professors’ Network, 1999,
57. As Carlo Ginzburg emphasizes, the current penchant for treating history as discourse, with the consequent ambiguity of historical ‘truth’, leads to the reduction of history to a series of rhetorical and narrative practices. This indeterminacy enables the use of rhetoric “as an individual and collective instrument of self-absolution…through which…the West has repeatedly absolved itself of its own crimes” (C. Ginzburg, Rapporti di forza. Storia, retorica, prova [Power Relations. History, Rhetoric, Proof] (Milano: Feltrinelli, 2000), my translation).
58. B. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (New York: Verso, 1983); M. Bakic-Hayden, ‘Nesting Orientalisms: The Case of Former Yugoslavia’, Slavic Review 54, No.4, 1995, 917-31; I. T. Berend, Decades of Crisis: Central and Eastern Europe Before World War II (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); A. Melegh, ‘Perspectives on the East-West Slope in the Process of EU Accession’, in S. Engel-Di Mauro, ed., The European’s Burden: Global Imperialism in EU Expansion (New York: Peter Lang, forthcoming, 2005); M. Todorova, Imagining the Balkans (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe.
59. D. Brydon, ‘Introduction’, in D. Brydon, ed., Postcolonialism: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies: Volume I (London: Routledge, 2000), 5; D. Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 254; A. Dirlik, ‘The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism’, in D. Brydon, ed., Postcolonialism: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies: Volume I (London: Routledge, 2000), 207-236; E. Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978); G. C. Spivak, ‘Poststructuralism, Marginality, Postcoloniality and Value’, in D. Brydon, ed., Postcolonialism: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies: Volume I (London: Routledge, 2000), 60.
Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro is Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. He received an MSc in Physical Geography (Soil Geomorphology) and an MA in Anthropology (Archaeology) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in Geography and a Certificate in Russian, Central, and East European Studies at Rutgers University. His PhD work linked soil management to gender relations at multiple scales, focusing on SW Hungary as a case study. His current studies seek to explain the gender and class aspects of farming and soil degradation, the connections between world economy, soil science, and soil management, and the relationship of European Union enlargement to world-system processes.