Between the second and third Euroculture semesters an Intensive Programme (IP) of about ten days takes place. The location of the IP rotates around the parter universities. All students, staff members and guest professors from the universities of the Euroculture Network come together for the IP.
If you are interested in finding out what the IP 2019 "Inequality and Solidarity", organized by Göttingen, Olomouc and Pune, looked like, you can find out more here
In 2011, the IP was hosted by Göttingen. The following pages will give you a good insight into what an IP organized by students and staff in Göttingen looks like!
Theme Statement: "Europe: Space for transcultural existence?"
With this yearly topic, the question is raised to what extent Transculturality can be seen as valid concept and how much space is given to a transcultural existence. Transculturality rests on the conviction that migration and other cultures and influences are not merely absorbed, but equally accepted and appreciated. In a sense, this yearly topic is thought of as a continuation of the previous one, which highlighted effects of Europeanization and Globalization. In dealing with this theme, Glocalization seemed a valid term once concentrating on the citizens as the “receiving end” rather than on the “senders”, that is, institutions, companies, and politics. We would like to start our dealing with the new yearly topic from this angle: In a Postcolonial critique of Modernization Theory, Globalization is neither perceived in a teleological way, nor is it considered a consequence of modernity or seen as a state all societies around the world could eventually reach. Thus, one will be asked to carefully analyze culture, society, politics, economy, religion and to emphasize the spatial rather than temporal developments. Furthermore, the usage of “space” rather than “place” is to pay tribute to the fact that one might not feel bound to a particular perspective. In this sense, “space” is not a solely geographical category, but includes a social component, considering how people(s) actually meet and to what extent they are able to create a new, perhaps “third space”. Transculturality comes into play once researching into the use we make of the influences we have to cope with. It stands against any binary logic of “us” as opposed to “them” and is based on a real understanding of the ”Other”. Is there “space” for more than one culture in oneself, or can it be that people are afraid of challenging the very core of their identity? Does Transculturality stand in competition to multicultural or intercultural approaches, or is it of supplementary nature? This leads to more general understandings of culture and to questions of inner homogeneity and outer delimitation. Here, one could reflect, for example, on increasing extremist nationalism, seperatism and ghettoization. Twenty years after German reunification, people discuss how far borders have been transcended. If recent debates on the background and genetic traits of peoples are any guide, one could wonder to what extent a transcultural co-existence has been achieved. The same is true for the current debates on failing integration efforts or the conditions of the Roma in France and elsewhere. They raise questions of how we deal with minorities and immigrants, what we understand by “European”. It has to be seen whether these current debates reflect on actual coexistence in daily life or merely have to be considered a debate of a conservative elite. These are only some ways to explore this yearly topic. In order to make it more tangible, the focus shall be set on the following four subthemes: (a) Internal and external European trans-border relations (b) Representation of Europe in the Arts and Literature (c) Feeling at home in many places – polygamy of place (d) Mirroring Europe from the outside. *The sub-themes (a) to (c) are based on the outline by Gabriela Huk, Chiara Nacchia and Annelien Ramakers.
The European Union has developed several programs in order to cooperate within its borders and beyond. One aim here is to build a more cohesive and integrated Europe and to gain mutual understanding and trust even in countries and regions where historical events and political decisions have created strong mental borders. This subtheme also relates to the function of borders in the contemporary world. They can be seen both as barriers and as places of contact. It has been suggested that we are “prisoners of borders” (mental, cultural, social, political, linguistic, or religious). While this statement appears to be somewhat exaggerated, it holds some truth, as boundaries are not only elements in spatial organization but also structural forces in our daily lives. European trans-border relations may also be seen in the field of educational programs. Educational cooperation between Europe and non-European countries seems to become more crucial to allow for academic exchange and ultimately an increased cultural awareness. Cultural diplomacy can be seen as another means to exchange ideas, information, values, beliefs and all other aspects of culture in order to create a mutual understanding. Therefore it is a tool for fostering EU internal relations as well as external relations, thus helping to bridge differences not only between member states.
This subtheme refers first of all to the images of Europe that are presented in the Arts (painting, photography, film, sculpture, installation, etc.) and Literature. They may be both from the inside and the outside of the European Union. Interesting insights may also be found in travel literature and travel guides. It would be also interesting to look at the representations of Europe from the linguistic point of view. Newly emerging creole languages may provide us with an image of Europe as seen by the immigrant communities. This image may be found in the literature and music which exists in creole languages. Also, we can see a creolisation process of official languages influenced by the idiom of the migrant groups (Spanglish, or French-Arab or German-Turkish, Rinkeby-Swedish).
“Feeling at home in many places – polygamy of place” can be understood in a number of ways. A first idea is related to the phenomenon of migration and the concept of cosmopolitanism. In the globalized world, the traditional conceptualization of belonging and the relationship between people and places have been challenged. It may even be said that people abandon or even are forced to abandon their territories in search for a new home. Thus, one might ask whether one can feel attached to several places at once – physically being in another country than their own, but still cultivating their cultural traditions. Europe is said to have broken the internal borders so that the citizens of the member states could move freely inside the EU. Which consequences does that have for their feeling of belongingness? Do omnipresent multinational corporations and media make it easier for us to adapt to new places and new (cultural) contexts? Does the possibility to explore the world from your living-room, enable you to feel “at home” in several places?
It has been emphasized in Postcolonial Studies that “the Occident” got its inner stability by defining its identity against that of a colonial “other”. Historians and experts within Cultural Studies claim that, although “Orientalism” preserved features of Imperialism, this inner stability is not to be retained. The same seems true for the transatlantic relations, where setting off against this “Other” does not help much in establishing an own European approach. There are many questions that can be posed when analyzing how Europe is mirrored from the outside – a process that always includes at least two, one holding the mirror and one being seen in it. Here, academic discourses or policy analysis are possible areas of interest. What can we tell from the reflections on Europe, how do they connect and interplay with views from the inside? How are the perceptions being picked up in both Europe and the world?
Péter Nádas and Richard Swartz: Europa im Zwiegespräch
In conjunction with Göttingen’s Literarisches Zentrum (Literary Centre), we were very excited to welcome two renowned guests, Péter Nádas and Richard Swartz, who were speaking on at the Paulinerkirche in Göttingen. This event forms part of the IP, and due to the distinguished nature of the two European intellectuals, is also open to the general public. The Hungarian author Péter Nádas (‘A Book of Memories’) and the Swedish journalist and writer Richard Swartz (‘A House in Istria’) are co-authors of the captivating and thought-provoking book ‘Zwiesprache’ (Dialogue), in which they, as an “Ostmensch” and a “Westmensch”, spend four days in the spring before the fall of the Iron Curtain, discussing and discovering what they have in common and the different ways in which they view the world, due to their different experiences of life. This discussion brings many interesting and surprising insights to light, regarding both political concepts, and more personal topics. Both authors were resuming this fascinating dialogue for us, discussing what Europe means for them. We are very happy to have had this event in Göttingen, as part of the Intensive Programme! It was published in the proceedings of the IP, "Europe - Space for Transcultural Existence" with Göttingen University Press (see "Publications").