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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: Marvin (PA)(Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0 

In the first Good Reads of 2016, former editor Frances Jackson shares a few articles that have got her thinking about Europe over the last few days.  Read about contrasting efforts to integrate asylum seekers in Germany and Finland, the publication of a new annotated edition of Mein Kampf, and why the AZERTY keyboard could soon become a thing of the past.

Frances, former Diaphragm / Baby editor

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IN search of a common ground

I suppose it’s inevitable that, in the face such a torrent of depressing news stories and seemingly insurmountable hurdles as is the case with the ongoing refugee crisis, we are drawn to examples of journalism that give us hope for the future. Certainly, I think that is what made Herbi Dreiner’s recent guest post for the Guardian stand out for me.  He is part of a team at the University of Bonn that has started putting on physics shows with Arabic explanations to help engage young asylum seekers who are still finding their feet in Germany.  I love the simplicity of the idea, its optimism and the way it encourages us to find a shared understanding, rather seeking to emphasise differences and deficiencies.

Published in Good Reads
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 00:00

Good Reads – From Lampedusa to Scotland

Another week has flown away but not without two of E&M's editors sharing some articles that got them thinking about our continent. This time around, Edgar and Veronica have picked up some online pieces about the value of history and the aftershocks of an Italian earthquake, passing through the Scottish referendum, a law in favour of the rights of transsexuals and Europe's immigration debate.

 

Edgar, Baby editor

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HISTORY AND HUMILITY

 

In one of the first tutorial sessions of my undergraduate history degree, I clearly remember a classmate nonchalantly reeling off George Santayana's famous quotation about the value of history: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The tutor was unimpressed. "You're lucky you didn't say that in your interview," he said. His point, reprised by many of my teachers throughout the next three years, was that history is not a crystal ball. If we gaze into the past we do not see the future; only the past.

 

At the time, these historians' strident insistence on the practical uselessness of their subject was a little deflating. Why were they devoting their lives to such a futile endeavour? They were clearly jaded, I thought, if not outright depressed. Only gradually did I realise that this warning against drawing lessons from history was a valuable lesson in itself. If history teaches us anything at all, it is how little we can control or even predict our own fate.

 

Published in Good Reads
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