As Europe is facing its most severe crisis since the end of World War II Second World War, populist nationalism is on the rise again all over the continent. Parties like the AfD, Ukip, the Dutch Party for Freedom or Front National refer to nostalgic imaginaries of their respective countries, while emphasizing the divisive character of national idiosyncrasies. Simultaneously, a shared European heritage and cultural values are mobilized as uniting factors against a shared Other: Islam. These constructions of both, disjunctive and shared European pasts, however obliterate rather forgotten memories of its origins – memories of colonialism and fascism. By referring to the German context in particular, and by drawing on and expanding Homi Bhabha’s conception of national temporalities, this article argues for a melancholic character of Europe in its relationship to the past – a Europe that is nostalgic for its lost Empire(s) and anxious about its fragile territorial as well as ideological borders. Giving the example of the popular song “Wir sind Wir (Ein Deutschlandlied)” by Paul van Dyk and Peter Heppner, utilized as its anthem by the German AfD in its 2015 election campaign, I will exemplify how the unresolved past is tantamount to the present, both on a national as well as the European level.
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- Who said we were over it? On Nationalist Nostalgia and a Specter Haunting Europe: Popular Music and the Melancholic Presence of the Past