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Saturday, 16 February 2013 09:30

Hidden traces in Europe's backyards

Written by Philip Wallmeier

The recent wave of inter-linked protests in many countries, the financial crisis and growing concerns over immigration make it necessary to look at events not only from a national angle but also to analyse them as they happen, taking their transnational dimension into account. However, what may seem to be a new development is rather the return of an insight that has been forgotten. Join us as an editor at E&M and help us move this dimension into the focus again.

Recently I read the Count of Monte Christo and was astonished by Dumas' portrait of a common European space in the first half of the 19th century. In this story, after escaping prison, the Count of Monte Christo decides to take revenge on those who are responsible for his 14-year long sentence. To pursue this revenge, he moves to Paris with Haydée, the daughter of the Emperor Ali Pascha, where he introduces himself sometimes as an Italian priest, sometimes as an English banker; he works together with a group of organised criminals from Rome as well as with his former fiancée, the Catalan Mercedes. Monte Christo's revenge is eventually successful because of his ability to gather information and to bring together people and stories from different places. Reading this classic novel, it became vivid to me again that a common European space is not a new concept but rather an old reality that, as in Monte Christo's story, can be found by following traces which are sometimes bloody or smelly, sometimes beautifully hummed or stunningly narrated. In Dumas' story, we participate in the hero's adventures, move with him from one place to another which is seemingly unconnected, only to find out that if we follow him off the main road and step into a yard behind a small house in a side street, we find a crucial connection; even more, this connection becomes obvious to us and we cannot understand how we didn't perceive the trace that he was following all along. As in the story, ties, connections and traces in the European space are often hidden; they have been crossed out by borders, painted over with the blood spilled in wars but also banned from our perception because of democratic institutions and constitutions which like strong lights directed at our eyes blind us to what is further away. As the example of Dumas' hero shows, however, these hidden traces and ties might matter more than we are inclined to think.

Because at E&M we feel that these traces matter and that we need to make them more visible again, we follow transnational ties in politics and ideas (Brain), emotions and melodies (Heart), jokes and anecdotes (Diaphragm), bodies and their fluids (Baby) as well as peoples' private and economic adventures (Legs) – we step into yards in side streets. As Dumas shows, this was already necessary in the first half of the 19th century – Monte Christo's advantage over his enemies is his knowledge about events and ties which they believe to have been lost and hidden – but is even more important today since the European social space has become denser. While Monte Christo had to travel by carriage, today we can fly; while our hero had to send letters via messenger, we send them via email within a second; last but not least, there is even an institution today that connects many of the European countries, the EU. If Monte Christo had to follow stories all over Europe to understand what is going on, how can we believe that our national gaze would be sufficient today? To understand economic performance and the financial crisis, it's not enough to look at a trade deficit – where is the surplus? Attitudes towards immigration cannot be understood nationally either – they are linked to identities which contrast "oneself" to someone else; and this list could go on.

By stepping into backyards, describing and explaining what we find, E&M hopes to contribute not only to a better understanding of what is going on around us, like Monte Christo did nearly 200 years ago; at the same time, we want to challenge others, debate and hence help to establish new ties, carve new traces into space of a young European generation. If all of this sounds exciting to you, if you want to be part of an international team of editors which stretches from New York City, via Amsterdam and Portugal to Moscow, who are passionate about writing, thinking, debating and working together, if you are ready to go and visit backyards and challenge common perceptions, then you should join us!

As a E&M editor...

-  You will head one of the six sections of the magazine. You'll decide which stories we run and how we present them.

-  You'll be responsible for motivating your authors, assessing their work and giving them direction.

- You'll have the right to decide on most matters related to the running of the magazine: partnerships, financial matters, marketing strategies, organisational structure, future projects and workshops

- You'll have the opportunity to get involved in project management, which might mean planning and organising a training workshop for European journalists, running a debating event or creating a journalism prize. This is a great way to gain experience in writing funding applications and learning how to organise a budget!

This role places you at the core of the magazine - an expanding project with plenty of opportunity for you to use your own creativity. We aim to help create a European public, which goes beyond national boundaries. Join us!

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Application deadline: 7th of March 2013.

Last modified on Sunday, 17 February 2013 11:37

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