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Monday, 01 December 2014 00:00

Europe at night

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They say a picture paints a thousand words, so we've set out to discover what photography might be able to tell us about today's Europe and are pleased to announce the winners of our November competition.

Though the theme may have been "Europe at night", the entries to this month's photo competition Europe Through a Lens could not have been more colourful. Darkness was well and truly banished, and light in all of its manifold guises took centre stage.

Several photos were in the running for the top spot, but it was Junyuan Chen's image Star that eventually claimed first place. The judges were particularly struck by the way it seemed to make the moment last for a long time and also praised Junyuan's technique, wondering how many attempts were needed to get the shot right. The 22-year-old Chinese photographer, who is currently studying at the University of Glasgow, will be interviewed for Sixth Sense about his work and invited to pitch a piece of photojournalism for E&M. We're very excited to hear more about his photographic endeavours, and in the meantime, why not take a look at his Flickr account.

Published in Europe Through a Lens
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 00:00

Tales of Warsaw

When the bigwigs of international politics meet to discuss climate change, most people only shrug: too bulky, too distant, too untrustworthy. Not Laura Führer. As an observer for the international student think tank CliMates, she had the chance to take a closer look from the scene. Here she reflects on her experience in the negotiations jungle in Warsaw and on the role of young people within and outside these negotiations.

Published in E&M Reports
Monday, 28 May 2012 06:27

The art of critical patriotism

It's the middle of the night and we're on our way to Warsaw. Traffic lights on the motorway slow us down every other mile. Low volume Metronomy beats won't wake up the others, but give the scene a scent of detached stillness. Warsaw will be the 16th capital on our journey, albeit distinct in one important aspect. Poland is a nation on the rise. An island of success in the blue sea with 12 yellow stars. The forecasted growth rate for 2012 is 2.5%, where Germany presents a meagre 0.6% and Greece a catastrophic -4.4%. We have seen how a stagnating or even shrinking economy can depress whole countries. Is the opposite true for a country with a constantly growing economy? Will Poland be full of happy faces beaming with pride? (This article was originally published on Euroskop, a travel blog about today's Europe.)

Polityka news magazine building, second floor. People rushing by, accelerating as they do so. "Surely, we are proud. The West looked down on us for years. We have worked hard, made drastic reforms to get where we are now." Wawrzyniec Smoczynski is Foreign Editor of Polityka (which can be compared to German Spiegel or the French Nouvel Observateur) and stands for the Poland he is unravelling in front of our eyes. Proficient in English and German, he left his country to broaden his horizons and came back to support his country with his skills. "Young Poles are trying to form a new middle class. There might be a materalistic, even hedonistic aspect to their attitude, yes. But if you ask me, it is due time that our young students can enjoy walking through Paris or London without being regarded as the poor Polish plumber." On the political level weights are already shifting. "Behind closed doors the Germans are constantly asking us to join the Euro." As Smoczynski says: "The EU is blue, boring, and unelected." Similarities between the Champions League and the Eurozone? Both lost some of their charm in recent times due to foul play, though they will remain attractive for those in the second league.

A small office in a Warsaw University building, which turns out to be a former SS-Headquarters. Far too many chairs for such a small room. Lost between them sits Michał Bilewicz, who has a PhD on prejudice and identity. "Polish people always felt a very strong connection with their country and their people, not only but also due to decades of oppression. However, they are also very critical of their own kind. They are not used to thinking highly of themeselves. We call that critical patriotism." Apparently, critical patriotism renders you more open-minded towards other groups. A model for a European patriotism? At least Europeans seem to have internalised being critical of themselves and their institutions. Yet the strong connection might be missing...

Published in Reader Submissions
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