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In this week’s edition of Good Reads, E&M's Frances Jackson shares a few online titbits that caught her eye over the last few weeks: prepare yourselves for a whistle-stop tour of current European hotspots, both culinary and cultural.

 

Frances, Diaphragm / Baby editor

 

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FORGOTTEN EUROPE, BRIEFLY REMEMBERED

 

This is not only my first Good Reads of the year, but also my first as a magazine rather than blog editor. I suspect that the festive season is still preying on my mind though, because I am very much in the mood to indulge myself and shall be shamelessly tailoring these picks to my own personal whims and interests. Some readers might recall that I have previously used these pages to argue that Western media outlets suffer from a chronic lack of interest when it comes to Albania. In general I stand by this point, but I was at least pleasantly surprised to see the country getting a couple of mentions in recent days.

 

The first, which even spent a little while trending on the website of the Independent, was connected to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s decision to arrange three coloured pencils like Le Tricolore in his lapel pocket for the Charlie Hébdo demonstration last Sunday. The author is right to highlight the fact that Rama is himself an artist, yet I do feel that he misses a couple of other important points. Namely that the politician used to live in Paris, and, perhaps even more significantly, is now leader of a European country that – however secular it may be – does have a Muslim majority.

 

My other discovery was a travel piece about the mallësori, a mountain community in the far reaches of northern Albania. Amongst the sweeping and evocative descriptions of life in the mountains, there are perhaps hints of the strain of orientalism identified by Larry Wolff in Inventing Eastern Europe, but for the most part, I found the author to be fairly even-handed in his judgement. In fact, for me, the main effect of the article was simply to unleash a certain nostalgia for the country that I called home for a few months back in 2013. All I can say is read it, and go there. Seriously. Albania is a wonderful place that does not deserve the oft-unsavoury reputation it has acquired.

Published in Good Reads
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 00:00

Good Reads – 15/07/2014

From the 100th anniversary of the First World War to elections in Slovenia, it's been a busy few weeks for Europe. Frances and Veronica, two of E&M's new editors, share articles that recently got them thinking about the continent. 

 

Frances, Sixth Sense editor

Frances

A MEDIA BLINDSPOT

Something rather important happened on 27 June 2014. Game-changing, one might even say – if you can forgive the buzzword – for a good three million people. Ring any bells? It was during the summit of the EU heads of state, if that helps. Still nothing? All right, I'll tell you: it was the day that Albania was finally granted EU candidate status, some five years after its initial application for membership. And to be honest, I don't blame you if you haven't heard about it. By and large, most English-speaking media appear to have ignored this historic decision. At the time of writing, the BBC has not even updated its country profile on Albania to note that following a recommendation from the European Commission the small Balkan nation has indeed become a candidate for EU membership.

 

In fact, I only stumbled across one article – published in the English-language section of the Deutsche Welle – that really got to grips what the development means for Albania and its people. That said though, I'm not sure I entirely agree with the implication that Albania does not yet "belong to Europe". Surely to be European means more than simply living in a state where the rule of law is observed. And who's to say Albania isn't already European? Geography is certainly on the country's side; history too, I should have thought. Or are European credentials now measured purely in terms of EU membership? Somebody had better break the news to Switzerland...

Published in Good Reads
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