Sussex European Institute

About SEI

The Sussex European Institute (SEI) is an interdisciplinary research hub set up in 1992. Designated as a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in 1998, It brings together a community of scholars and experts committed to developing nuanced and historically informed accounts of Europe and in its role in the world.

The Sussex European Institute:

• Facilitates collaboration between leading academics and practitioners in seminars, panels, workshops and conferences

• Acts as a hub for scholars involved in research on Europe within and beyond Sussex.

Specifically, but not exclusively, it seeks to facilitate debate and collaborations in the following research areas: 

Thinking Europe from the periphery 

European Studies and related disciplines have often given specific attention to the formation of a European ‘centre’, which tends to be synonymous with Europe’s ‘West’. This includes the continuous re-affirmation of a ‘European’ core (through invocations of ‘Western values’, ‘modernity’, etc.), which simultaneously re-produces peripheries – beyond but also within Europe. At the SEI, we critically engage with how and why peripheries are made, how they are defined and categorized, and the roles that are thereby attributed to Europe’s internal and external ‘others’. This includes research into Europe’s history and the various ways in which European countries have engaged in and benefitted from colonial exploitation and violence. The research programme also involves studying how and why distinctions are made between Europe’s North and South, East and West. The pitfalls of integrating diverse European models of capitalism have been central to the causes and ongoing legacies of the eurozone crisis, and our scholars analyse the politics of core-periphery asymmetry within contemporary Europe. Similarly, the history of European Empires and the bipolarity of the Cold War have designated a territorial and geopolitical position to ‘Eastern Europe’. This has created a category that inadequately grasps the diversity of histories, cultures and languages across Europe, yet which continues to shape asymmetric relationships and trajectories of mobility.

Europe and the politics of crisis

Building on long-standing strengths in the study of the Far Right and Euroscepticism, the institute is interested in the politics of crisis in Europe, broadly defined. Members of the SEI work on the political economy of European integration and capitalist diversity, financialisation and austerity, or the politics of European disintegration. A key focus is also on the humanitarian crisis at Europe’s and Britain’s borders, the politics of asylum and immigration, and mobilities within Europe. Another area of expertise are Europe’s security crises, and debates about securitisation and foreign policy. These overlapping crisis narratives raise vital questions for European studies and related disciplines. SEI is interested in the development of new and critical agendas in the study of European integration and disintegration, and in the analysis of ‘blind spots’ within existing theoretical debates.

Post-Brexit Britain’s relationship with Europe

 As a European Research Centre based in the UK, the SEI views the UK’s recent departure from the European Union not as an end-state, but as an open-ended and ongoing process. Brexit raises questions about the new relationship between Britain and Europe, including in key areas such as trade, agriculture, foreign policy, education, the politics of equality, and labour rights. Of specific interest is also Britain’s emerging post-Brexit border and immigration regime, the social, political, and economic consequences for the UK, Euroscepticism, and the future of British-Irish relations. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic has drawn our attention to Europe and the UK’s roles in managing global health inequalities. Various members of the research community at the Sussex European Institute explore key aspects of this evolving landscape.