The European Flag According to Paolo Fabbri

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Too often we consider symbols in our cultures to be indivisible monoliths that can only be interpreted through the connotations they take on over time. This is due, on one hand, to their compact nature, the correspondence between the planes of expression and content that make them appear solid, impossible to break down. However, it is also true that in the majority of cases we inherit ready-made symbols that seem to have been born with their current shape, with no hint as to the processes that have made them this way. As a rule, there are so many, varied meanings of the word “symbol” that, in the absence of a clear, consensual hypothesis on what a symbol is, they can be difficult to read. And yet, any linguistic and semiotic system recognises its own incompetence when it fails to provide a proper definition of symbol (Lotman, Simvol v sisteme kul’tury, 1987).In this chapter we will attempt to demonstrate how it is possible to describe a symbol and the ways in which a particular kind of sign is a symbol. The flag of the European Community offers a rare occasion to observe and understand how a symbol is constructed, as demonstrated by many official documents. Here, we find multiple clues, not only in terms of the winning project, the flag’s current form, and the doubts and conflicts that lingered even as it was being made but also in the discarded versions and the parameters that, conversely, led to them being unsuccessful.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImages of Europe. The Union between Federation and Separation
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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