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Saturday, 16 February 2013 09:30

Hidden traces in Europe's backyards

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.

Sunday, 11 March 2012 10:10

Who was E&M's first fan ever?

You’ve probably already circled the 1st of April 2012 on your calendar: after all, it’s the publication date of E&M’s 16th issue. But it’s also the deadline for applications to the Studienkolleg zu Berlin, the international programme where E&M was born.

If you happen to be planning to found a new transnational project, you’ll need a lot of different ingredients. A group of motivated people, plenty of unrealistic ideas, a lot of patience... plus, somebody who believes in you, who supports you with resources and with encouragement. For E&M, the Studienkolleg zu Berlin was that “somebody.”

In September 2007, five students met at the Studienkolleg induction week. They came from Germany, Bulgaria, Poland and Latvia, and they had at least two things in common: they all wanted to create a medium which would make Europe personal, and they all felt that now was the moment that they could really do it. The Studienkolleg invites 30 young Europeans each year to take part in its programme of talks about Europe and work together in groups on Europe-related projects, while studying at a Berlin university. For a year, they receive a monthly stipend which supports them through their studies. It gives them a bit of space and time to think about what Europe is, and what Europe needs.

In June 2008, E&M was ready to go online. It had five unusually named sections, an awesome design, a great team of writers, and five exhausted and excited editors. The other members of the Studienkolleg all danced manically at the launch party to celebrate the very first issue, which - among many other things - explored the complex voting dynamics of the Eurovision Song Contest, told the Erasmus Love story of Susu and Fede, and - my personal favourite - featured a Baby article called Sexy Bum.

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