Nanovision in December

Movement of Peoples

The first genome-wide perspective on the origin of Romani peoples has been published in Current Biology (Cell Press) by David Comas (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain) and Manfred Kayser (Erasmus University, Netherlands). Linguistic evidence has long placed the origins of the Roma in Rajasthan; genome data confirms this view and adds that intermarriage with non-Romani Europeans also contributes a great deal.

Gérard Dépardieu’s recent protest against tax rates in France reminds us that the free movement of people, and peoples, is often driven by economic incentives and disincentives. On the other end of the income spectrum, what are the movement patterns now in, for example, Spain, where unemployment is skyrocketing? More generally, youth unemployment is upwards of 40% at Europe’s edges, as this map based on Eurostat data shows.

Social & Political Geographies

Geography is one of those academic enterprises like English that has largely dissolved its disciplinary boundaries. It now encompasses not only the description of terra firma but of any phenomena (social, political, etc.) that can be mapped to it. With the advent of big data, maps have taken on new subjects, methods, and representational forms. One site that collects especially thought-provoking maps is Strange Maps by Frank Jacobs.

Patterns of Integration

One of the most obvious patterns of cultural solidarity in Europe is the sharing of food. Europe of course has long been known for its cuisine (France, Italy, Spain, etc.). One of the chefs best-known today for pushing the envelope is Ferran Adrià, from the famous (and now closed) restaurant, El Bulli. Adrià is leading the El Bulli Foundation, which aims in part to create a global database of gastronomy called BulliPedia. Like other cultural examples of modernism, Adrià’s approach to cuisine searches high and low and verges deliberately on the surreal to “make it new.” It’s interesting however that this global modernist cuisine is matched in status by its complement, the creatively locavore and primitivist cuisine of René Redzepi in Copenhagen, whose restaurant Noma is considered by the trade to be the best in the world.

Religion & Secularization

TEDx at the Vatican on April 19, 2013, will address religious freedom.

Other links of interest

eurozine, “Europe’s leading cultural magazines at your fingertips”

Council for European Studies (Columbia University)

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