< SWITCH ME >

16438065636 6a14a51f38 zPhoto: Michqel D Beckwith (Flickr); Licence CC0 1.0 

What is Europe? Is Europe more a geographical, cultural, political or economic concept? What defines the European identity? These are all questions E&M has pondered from the very beginning, and over the years we’ve come up with many very different answers. Indeed, our vision of what Europe is and should be is influenced by many factors. With this new regular feature, My European Bookshelf, we wanted to consider one of those factors: literature. In this space, E&M has invited young Europeans to share the books that have shaped their understanding and perception of Europe. 

Published in Sixth Sense

 3320452655 be4c49997c zPhoto: jvoves (Flickr); Licence CC BY 2.0 

What is Europe? Is Europe more a geographical, cultural, political or economic concept? What defines the European identity? These are all questions E&M has pondered from the very beginning, and over the years we’ve come up with many very different answers. Indeed, our vision of what Europe is and should be is influenced by many factors. With this new regular feature, My European Bookshelf, we wanted to consider one of those factors: literature. In this space, E&M has invited young Europeans to share the books that have shaped their understanding and perception of Europe. 

The idea of this column —to be written by someone new each time — is that on our bookshelves we keep an idea of Europe. Over days and weeks and months of reading we travel across borders we might never even dream of in real life. I've written about a few examples of (at times only vaguely) European writing and why I feel they're important; if you're scratching around for something good to read, this list might be a start. You see, on my bookshelves, there are many versions of Europe, from the bloody and historical to the whimsical, the factual, and the symbolic. It is worth noting too, that I have used this space to write what I can only describe as a literary prescription: at least some of these books will be good for your soul. 

Published in Sixth Sense
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Photo: Suzanne Alibert

What's it's like to leave your home behind and spend months visiting very nearly every country in Europe? E&M editor Rosamund Mather speaks with Suzanne Alibert about her project "Europe Next Door" and how it helps promote European values and reach out to young people in Europe.

E&M: Hello Suzanne! Could you briefly explain what exactly the project "Europe Next Door" is?

Suzanne Alibert: It’s a tour of Europe to meet young Europeans. I will be visiting 26 countries in the EU, plus Turkey and Iceland. During my travels, my aim is to see what the situation for people is like in each country and what they think about the European Union. I’m writing articles on my website during my trip, and when I’m back in France, I will write a book and do some conferences and photo exhibitions.  

Published in Sixth Sense
women past
Photo: Paul Townsend (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0

In the past women have done a variety of jobs: from working in factories during war periods to steamming tobacco leaves.
In this picture Florence Brown, the first female Lord Major of Bristol, returns to her old job for a few minutes (June 1963).

 

Women's employment is one of those evergreen issues in the agenda of the old continent. Besides dusty stereotypes that still relegate women to few sectors of care and other social needs, the problem of women's employment has been worsened by the recent economic crisis. E&M author Nicoletta Enria approaches the topic and unveils European trends when it comes to women's education, wages and their presence in decision-making positions.

In the past couple of years, issues regarding gender equality have entered mainstream discourse with cries for gender parity by the likes of American actress Patricia Arquette in her Oscar acceptance speech and British actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson’s #HeForShe campaign calling for men to join the battle. Although proposals for gender equality in the economic, political and cultural spheres seem to have become popular again, how far has this actually gone in providing concrete progress for women? With a backdrop of financial instability bringing forth a rise in unemployment and austerity measures, what is the European job market looking like for women nowadays?

The European Commission stated in its 2014 Report on Equality between Men and Women that gender equality is not only a fundamental right but is also essential for economic growth. Needless to say, the financial crisis affected a whole generation, resulting in a sharp rise in unemployment, especially for young people. However, the proportion of inactive young women remains double that of young men. Austerity measures in countries such as Greece have led to cuts in public, health and care sectors — all sectors which normally employ women. This is leading to a rise in women unemployment and a rise in unpaid care work for women, with currently 45% of Greek women living below the poverty threshold. This also casts a light on the problem of occupational segregation, which is when your gender defines what ranking or job you get based on gender stereotypes deeply engrained in our society.

Published in Contentious Europe
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Photo: Matthias Ripp; Licence: CC BY 2.0
 
Love for all 

 

Being in a love relationship can be at times complicated, right? Besides the ups and downs of a "regular" story, those who are in a long-distance relationship may find it way harder to overcome misunderstandings as well as to share nice moments. Broadening the topic,we wanted to go deep inside the feelings and thoughts of a young European couple currently split up into two different places, unveiling their fears, their struggles and their hopes for a future together. E&M's Veronica Pozzi tells the story of Marta and Johannes, an Italian-German couple who have grappled with national stereotypes and modern technology as part and parcel of their relationship.

 

"I was terribly late. It took me a while to get from my flat to the underground station and the way to get there had been quite weird, featuring a soldier from the German army who paid my bus ticket as I had run out of coins. After getting lost and adding more minutes to my already huge delay, I managed to arrive at the place. And he was there. With his blond hair, drinking a rather big beer. Looking very German indeed. Without taking my eyes off him, I started to talk to an Italian friend, who arranged the evening together, and as I was talking to her (read: very loud and with lots of gestures) I thought I must look truly Italian. And then the show began".

 

The memories Marta tells us are a strange but clear mixture of funny and sad bits. Her willingness to be abroad brought her to Germany, but she never thought that she was going to be so involved with that country as she is now. She was in that situation when you are not really on the look-out for a new story. But the guy she met there impressed her a lot and the dates that followed made her feel so comfortable, interested and happy that she felt she didn’t want to miss out on him. So, almost two years ago, their relationship started –  more as an emotion-driven decision rather than a totally rational one. But here they are, and, in these two years, they have gone through quite a lot.

Published in Imagine Europe
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 00:00

E&M welcomes a new cartoonist

Cartoons1  Baruffato
Photo courtesy of Alice Baruffato 
 

Lichtgrenze over Berlin - Alice Baruffato, December 2014

As a part of E&M's commitment to multimedia content, our magazine is glad to announce that the Italian illustrator Alice Baruffato will be sharing with us cartoons drawn exclusively for E&M. She works as an archaeological illustrator but she will be also be contributing specifically to E&M, so stay tuned and enjoy some of the most significant European issues being turned into thought-provoking drawings on a monthly basis. To find out more, E&M's Veronica Pozzi has interviewed her about her work as an archaeological illustrator and her life-experiences in Europe.

 

Alice

Alice Baruffato. If you feel you are already familiar with the name that's because she is not new to E&M. Last November, together with two friends, she wrote this article on her experience as a volunteer at the Berlin Wall. But the months she spent in Germany's capital are not the only European project in which she has participated. In this interview she shares those experiences as well as her personal views on Archaeology in Europe and the related job market.

 

E&M: Where does your passion for drawing come from? And how have you nourished it throughout the years?

 

Alice: My parents had a stationery shop. I remember I started drawing when I was a kid: I've always had this passion and, thanks to my parents' shop, I had access to good quality pencils and everything I needed. I took only one drawing course in my life, it was about cartoons but very short. For the rest, I just kept on drawing following my passion and as a self-learner.

Published in Beyond Europe
etc4
Photo courtesy of Annemone Taake
 
Filip and Ivana, main characters of I'm afraid that we know each other now

 

Life is a stage, they say. Whilst institutions and many associations are working on integrating Europe under several points of view, the European Theatre Convention trascendes geographical and language borders andbrings real life stories simultaneusly to Europe's stages. Philip Wallmeier attended one of these plays in Heidelberg, Germany for E&M and now wants to unveil its reflections on sex, life and memory making.

 

How can young people today live and create change when they cannot even understand how they got to where they are in the first place? This is the question around which Ivor Martinic’s most recent work, "I am afraid that we know each other now", evolves; it is being staged simultaneously in Zagreb and Heidelberg as part of the project The Art of Ageing of the European Theatre Convention (ETC).

In "I am afraid that we know each other now" the young Ivana and her ex-boyfriend Filip run into existential trouble. Not because she broke up with him; but because when she told him about her decision to end the relationship, he responded by restating what his mother once said: "You best satisfy a woman with the tongue". Ivana cannot accept this as the last words which were spoken in their relationship: "How can I tell people about how it ended?". Since Ivana cannot accept Filip's reply, she comes to see him again and again. While Ivana is looking for a way to tell the story of her life, Filip is searching for words that could describe "what really happened".

 

In this involving play, the spectators are shown this tension between Ivana’s search for a story that could be told and Filip’s soul searching for what really happend not merely through the actors' words but also through their bodies in motion. The young actors, who spend nearly two hours continuously on stage, run, shiver, are aroused, beat or caress each other, looking for ways to communicate that could transcend the tension between what happend and what can be said. Often their bodies speak a different language from that of their voices. The play is not, however, a meditation on the general impossibility of true communication through language but can be understood as a reflection on the feelings and lives of the young generation today in Zagreb and Heidelberg. When, for example, Filip is finding a way to give his experience an expression, the characters think about the particular city part of which their story is: Ivana and Filip discuss the meaning of the monument "The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" in Zagreb. The monument was originally built for the fallen soldiers of World War One, but the placard which recounts this history was erased by the communist regime – the consequence: many people believe that this is a tomb for the soldiers who fought the Nazi regime. As the young director Miriam Horwitz explains, the "piece questions the role of spoken language but also the idea of stories as memories and memory making".

Published in Beyond Europe

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

 

8frances

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
Thursday, 01 March 2012 18:01

Good Reads 01/03/12

Each week, two E&M editors share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.

juliane

Juliane, Diaphragm Editor 

HAS TECHNOLOGY FIGURED US OUT?

I love it when science and technology present easy solutions to complex problems. The notion that you can answer some of life's most troubling questions in one single sentence is deeply appealing to me. Nevertheless, when I first read about complexity scientists having explained the way culture has spread in Europe, I was somewhat... offended. For me, European culture is fascinating, interesting and compelling because it cannot be explained in one sentence. So when a bunch of complexity scientists (which, on a side note, is the coolest academic title I've come across) explain to me that the main reason, or perhaps one of the main reasons, that the democracies of ancient Greece and the Roman empire still remain the most influential and persisting cultural movement in European history is ... that Italy and Greece are located not in the centre, but on the edge of the European continent, I am quite frankly insulted. However, the possibility that they might be right is puzzling and fills me with curiosity. See if you agree here and download the whole paper here if you're interested.  

PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE FILM OF THE YEAR... SORT OF

This is a movie that I'm more excited about than I care to admit. A few reasons: 1) It's just about as tacky as science fiction will ever get. Which in itself is a reason to love it. 2) It's one of the few examples of real, not just imagined, fan-funding (the movie has been planned for ages, but director Timo Vuorensola did not have the money to make it happen - until he urged people who wanted to make it happen to pitch in, actually funding enough for proper production of the whole thing). In other words, even before the first screening, the movie had a huge and loyal pool of fans, which in this day and age is quite the accomplishment. 3) The movie, which, just to be clear, is about AN INVASION OF NAZIS WHO HAVE BEEN HIDING ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON SINCE 1944, opened at the Berlin Film Festival Berlinale this year. I love it. I love what it says about Germany being able to deal with their past in, if not unproblematic ways, then at least openly and with the realisation that the past is actually in the past. 4) It's a pan-European project actually said to have a chance of being a blockbuster in the US, which always is a weird satisfaction for me. Intrigued? Read more about what is perhaps the most inappropriate, yet surely entertaining, film experience of the year here.

Published in Good Reads
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