< SWITCH ME >

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Photo: zsoolt (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0
Central European University main entrance

A magical thing happened last week in Budapest – Europe became one notch more erratic and even less predictable. Viktor Orbán, the democratically elected leader of Hungary, in a befittingly authoritarian fashion, passed new legislation on Tuesday, April 4, reflecting its maker’s fondness of political control of science. The legal amendment was fast-tracked, with only a few hours given to lawmakers to seal the fate of academic freedom in the country. It was also tailor-made to fit the long-standing desire of the Central European University, one of Eastern Europe’s top-level universities, located in Budapest, to collect its things and beat it. Leaving behind such a gash in liberal values, that given time it can swallow Hungary, the European Union and, eventually, Uranus.

Published in Sixth Sense

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
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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
Monday, 13 April 2015 00:00

Pegida and "the Golden Age"

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Alice Baruffato on the theme of Pegida

 

In her monthly series of cartoons, E&M's Alice Baruffato now focuses on the Pegida movement in Germany. 


For sure, the far right movement holds the headlines and has conquered a firm place in the debate about European integration. But it also seems to have to face some internal problems and a general lack of supporters, as the anti-Pegida and pro-Europe movements are shouting out loud their ideas in many German cities. 

Who is this "full-blood" Saxon ancestor fighting against? An imaginary enemy, finding himself alone on what he thinks is a battle field in the contemporary Saxony/Germany...

Published in Contentious Europe

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Photo: Paul; Licence: CC BY 2.0

Italian vespa in Durham, UK

 

Immigration is a hot topic in the UK and the current political campaign is no exception. In the run-up to the general election, scheduled for 7 May 2015, politicians from different wings are getting tougher on EU migrants. Focusing mainly on migrants coming from Southern Europe and, especially, on the Italian community living in the UK, E&M's author Nicoletta Enria takes us through some of the scenarios about how this election could affect EU migrants and their lives in a country where they don't have the right to vote.

 

From the time of the Roman Empire to Ellis Island and now taking to the streets of London, Italians have always been known to migrate and make their presence known throughout the world. As youth unemployment in Italy soars, hitting a staggering 43.9% in November 2014, young Italians cannot help but feel anger, disappointment and resentment towards a system that offers them no hope and begin to look for a brighter future abroad. This swarm of educated youngsters, the "escaping brains" as they are known in Italy due to the fact that many of them have university degrees, are now predominantly settling in the UK. Officially, there are said to be 600 thousand Italians today in the UK, of which 60% are under the age of 35. What is life like for all these hopeful young Italians in the UK and how will the potential outcomes of the UK General Elections in May affect them?

 

In Italy, partially due to the role of the press in glorifying the UK and Germany, young Italians are brought up believing that all hope lies in migrating there. More and more hopeful Italians are travelling to the UK and finding themselves living in squalid, cheap hostels to avoid transport costs and expensive rent. Paid minimum wage, sometimes even less, they are ideal for low-income jobs as they provide big companies with cheap labour. In their dream for a better life not just Italian migrants, but also Portuguese, Spanish and Greek youngsters are facing this similar unexpected economic hardship, in an attempt to escape the financial crisis in their home countries. There is also a large community of young Italians studying at British boarding schools and universities in an attempt to profit from one of the best education systems in Europe and broaden their opportunities to obtain jobs in more places around the world. With a growing anti-immigration discourse in the UK, seen in articles such as this one by the Sun referring to Portuguese, Italian, Greek and Spanish migrants as "PIGS [that] are here to stay", integration is a privilege that not all of these young migrants have. Despite this, plenty of Italian migrants I have spoken to, myself included, thoroughly enjoy living the UK and feel fully integrated in their home away from home.

Published in Contentious Europe

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Alice Baruffato on the theme of Charlie Hebdo  

 

E&M's contributor Alice Baruffato continues her series of thought-provoking cartoons on current, major European topics. This time round Alice has focused her attention on the Parisian attack and, more broadly, on freedom of speech and expression.  

Published in Beyond Europe

Another week has passed and it's time for us to provide you with another Good Reads post. This time round E&M's Veronica Pozzi is taking up the challenge and shares articles that got her thinking about how IS uses social media and how this particular battle is fought in Berlin. Her final pick is about sexual and religious identity in Europe.

 

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Veronica, Sixth Sense

 

ISIS: When the recruitment starts on SoundCloud

 

In a period in which the Islamic State (IS) appears on the front pages of newspapers across different European states, it is somehow frustrating to note the lack of good journalism on the topic. Despite the huge media attention that IS gets, and also in the light of recent events in France and Syria, it seems that there is a general lack of original stories, a lack of journalists who do not only work with press agencies but who have actually been "out and about" and can provide some essential shoe-leather reporting.

 

That is why I was so happy when I stumbled across this article co-written by Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet for The Washington Post. Set in an immigrant neighborhood in south Berlin, the story revolves around a liberal mosque that, for years, has been a progressive and tolerant place where battered Muslim women could seek help in divorcing. But now a further problem claims the mosque's attention: IS and its recruitment of young, European Muslims.

 

Starting around the time that the infamous Denis Cuspert, a Berlin based rapper who started to spread radical views via his songs three years ago before going to fight in Syria, came to prominence, the recruitment process of new Muslim fighters for the IS is now run online. This article by The Local focuses on SoundCloud's jihadi accounts asking young Muslims to go and fight in Syria using the power of music and it connects this trend with Germany's law and efforts to oppose the IS. But this is just an example of how IS uses social media and Internet to spread its radicalism: this recent article posted by BuzzFeed (yes, they do also serious and investigative journalism) focuses on how IS is currently threating Twitter founder and employees after their decision to block several pro-jihad accounts. 

 

Published in Good Reads
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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

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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
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00

Good Reads – 29/07/2014

Two of E&M's editors share articles that recently got them thinking about Europe. Diána kicks off by suggesting an interesting interview and also a book review that might just make you look at the news in a completely different way. Then it's over to Edgar, whose picks include an article on the difficulties of observing Ramadan in Norway.

Diána, Managing editor

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Little green men with faces

When we read it was 'pro-Russian separatists' or 'Ukrainian rebels' who shot down the MH17 plane flying over their disputed territory, it is often extremely difficult to imagine who those people on the ground are and why they see it as a realistic political option to call their territory The People's Republic of Donetsk.

The fighters themselves often seem to be missing from media coverage. From a European point of view, it can easily seem rather confusing, almost absurd, to be willing to embrace the authoritarian ways of the Russian leadership. This is why an interview with one of the so-called 'little green men' – the imported fighters from Russia – is an immensely interesting read. In the article, Artur Gasparyan, an Armenian-born former fighter, tells us about the details of his service, the complete anonymity of Russian recruitment and the often extremely chaotic conditions of the fighting involved.

Though the interview is not completely clear on certain points – personally, I'm not sure I understood why he was willing to talk and whether his position about Ukraine has now changed – one message comes across plainly: that for many in the post-Soviet world the very category of separate nation states still does not make sense. In their eyes, there are no 'Ukrainians', only 'Slavs'. For Gasparyan and the others still fighting for the Soviet Union, twisting time and space is possible in the present. However alarming that thought may be, this is an angle we need to tackle if we wish to understand what is going on along those borders.

Published in Good Reads
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