Innovative thinkers respond to our 4 timely topics
There are a number of key moments in history that have not been fully or properly digested by our societies. These national and European points-of-pain – or taboos – are part of us, and influence our social and political reflections and actions. By not confronting our own histories and responsibilities, we risk falsifying our current relationships.
Some of these taboos are: the long term impact of our colonial pasts (and how it still influences how certain EU countries deal with certain non-EU countries), the Palestine conflict and Europe, the roles of Western EU countries during the Balkan war, the place of Roma and Sinti in our societies, the relationship between countries in the north with those in the south...
“WIR RIEFEN ARBEITSKRÄFTE UND ES KAMEN MENSCHEN.” (MAX FRISCH) / ‘We called upon the labor force and the people came.’
Continental Europe has seen centuries of migration and mixing of cultures. The last decade has been particularly marked by ‘economic’ migrations. For example, three million people with Turkish roots live n Germany or the 2,16 million people with north African roots (out of a total of 7.2 million ‘migrants’) living in France. Is Europe a cultural melting pot? Demographic studies suggest so. The sealant used between countries is often ‘tolerance’. Is this the right material for building the ambitious and human project as Europe ?
We are living with a worldwide economic crisis, shifting of international power relations (China, India, Turkey, Brazil…) and challenging politico-religious relations. The individual seems to be danger. Meanwhile we are all in the same soup.
History forced ‘tolerance’ upon us. History also gave us a strong sense that human rights and the freedom of expression are good – even essential – for an open society. Same goes for ‘Integration’, ‘diversity’, ‘multiculturalism’, ‘social cohesion’, etc.
Meanwhile stereotypes remain alive, well and interacting in Europe. There’s the charming but corrupt Italian, the snotty French person, the spendthrift Greek, the cold-hearted Swede, the radical Muslim as woman oppressor, etc. These types often seem to lie just under the skin of ‘tolerance’.
But how relevant is any of this when it comes to a person meeting a person? Are we individually responsible for these different ideas or are they imposed by society? And what exactly is the state of stereotyping in Europe today?
The EU apparatchik is often seen as an administrative monster happily gorging on all of our hard-earned national budgets. Is it time for Brussels to get a make-over?
Europe=EU remains common math. Europe=EU is also often equated with the regulating of banana angles and current theoretical equations around the Euro Crisis. Currently many are fixating on ‘us’ having to pay those astronomic debts of certain countries – inept, southern countries!
Europe can offer many opportunities. We travel,work, live, study easily in a global world. Compared to many other political systems in the world, we still retain a sense of social security solidarity and justice. There is (relative) peace. And freedom of speech and thought. But these advantages are often either unrecognised or taken for granted. Meanwhile no one has arisen above the grey suits of Brussels to embody some kind of vision – someone who could convince media and public while inspiring a younger generation to action or engaged citizenship. Where’s our B. Hussein Obama?
All contributors, guests and online participants of Voices come with varied backgrounds, and regard the globe as their work place. Their personal and poignant stories form a showcase against generalisations and populist streamlining. After all, only a subtle, nuanced and determined approach can help us find the answers for today’s world.
Authors and their contributions are listed alphabetically below. You can choose to read per theme or per author, just click on the images above.