Benjamin Thorpe is a PhD candidate at the School of Geography of the University of Nottingham (2013-). His research looks at the shaping of a European political imagination during the interwar years, with particular reference to the contributions of the Pan-European Union and its leader, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi. In the course of his doctoral research he has been a Visiting Student at both the European University Institute, Department of History and Civilisation, Florence (Sep-Oct 2014), and the Higher School of Economics in Moscow (Oct-Nov 2015).
He holds an MA in Geography from the University of British Columbia (2008-2010), where his thesis focused on the 2008 emergenza nomadi in Italy, using it as a case study to examine the ways in which Roma are produced as the Other against which the European order is defined. His undergraduate degree was from the University of Cambridge (2004-2007), where he won the 2007 RGS-IBG Urban Geography Research Group Prize for best undergraduate dissertation.
Eurafrica as a Pan-European vehicle for Central European colonialism (1923-1939)
’Eurafrica’ was first developed as a political concept in the 1920s by the Pan-European Union, and named as such in a 1929 article by its founder and leader, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi. Within five years, this neologism became a commonplace, as Eurafrica exploded across the public political discourse. Recently, several scholars have started to unpick the ways in which Eurafrican thinking contributed to the emergent Europeanism in the post-WWII period, and hence began to analyse the EU’s forgotten debt to colonial thinking (Hansen & Jonsson, 2014). This story plays heavily on the French efforts to reconcile their own colonial empire with participation in European political integration. However, as it was originally expressed by the Pan-European Union, Eurafrica was above all else a means of opening up colonialism to those European states that did not have a colonial empire. Partly, this meant appealing to German colonialists resentful at the stripping of Germany’s colonies at Versailles. But crucially, it also meant appealing to the broader historical injustices resulting from the fact that Central European countries did not have access to colonies; as a member of the old Austro-Hungarian nobility, Coudenhove-Kalergi was particularly well-placed to make this argument. This paper positions the Eurafrican promise of Central European colonial access as a radical (albeit equally neo-colonial) alternative to the Mandate system of the League of Nations, an offer of a future in which 'historical injustices’ were righted.