The Atlantic as metaphor

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Taking as its point of departure Paul Gilroy's proposal to look at the Atlantic as “as system of cultural exchanges,” this paper argues for the need to look at the Atlantic both as a barrier and as a conduit. As Tocqueville noted two centuries ago, some elements of European culture, not all of them, made their way across the ocean. Religion, which figures so prominently in contemporary debates about transatlantic relations, is a case in point. While pre-Enlightenment conceptions of the religious formed the core of the American national ethos, secularist notions so dominant in “post-Christian” Europe today are much less prevalent in the New World, accounting for the growing gap between European and American public opinions on issues such as abortion, the death penalty, religious dress in public schools or the separation of Church and State.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-117
JournalAtlantic Studies: Literary, Cultural and Historical Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004


  • transatlantic relations after 9/11
  • patriotism
  • religion
  • secularism


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