Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

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Posted on March 9, 2016 in Admin, News, Research, Students

Welcome to the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.  Our mission is to enrich the intellectual culture of Notre Dame by creating an integrated, interdisciplinary home for students and faculty to explore the evolving ideas, cultures, beliefs, and institutions that shape Europe today at the University of Notre Dame.

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Student Spotlight: Daniel Barabasi

Posted on July 14, 2015 in Research, Students, Uncategorized
Daniel Barabasi at our EU day celebration.

Daniel Barabasi at our EU day celebration.

Daniel Barabasi (’17) received a Break Travel and Research Grant for Sophomores and Juniors for his research in Transylvania, Romania.  Daniel is currently an honors student working on a degree in neuroscience and behavior in the College of Science.  What does neuroscience and behavior have to do with Europe?  Quite a bit.  It involves the study of human behavior and how it can be applied to other fields such as medicine, law, or education.  Daniel, who reviewed literature on poverty and development, also interviewed leaders and government entities working on child welfare and child protection services.  We hope to see more College of Science students take this kind of initiative!  Read on to learn about his experience:

            My initial contact at the Sapientia University of Miercurea Ciuc, Dean István Kósa, referred me to the leading village policy researcher and professor at the institution, Andrea Sólyom. Dr. Sólyom took it upon herself to not only guide my search for literature on poverty and development in Transylvania, she also arranged meeting with the leading organizations and government entities in the area.

            Though I had specified early on that I was interested in the broader picture, my previous experience with the Dévai Szent Ferenc Alapítvány led Dr. Sólyom to focus the meetings on child protection and development services, which turned out to be very rewarding in hindsight. Due to this slight miscommunication, the research I was able to accomplish spread itself into two parts: first, actual literature in the first leg of the trip, which was sent to me by Dr. Sólyom as background information and second, interviews with various members of the aforementioned organizations.

            I was provided with various articles, both scholarly and general audience, on the topics of child protection services and employment, as well as various surveys on the issues deemed to be important for families living in the region. Strong progress had been made in these areas after Romania joined the European Union in 2007, however this bolstering effect seems to have declined since 2012, when the last of the optimistic general audience articles that I examined was written. In the past years, Harghita County, the capital of which is Miercurea Ciuc, has seen declining wages, despite rising costs of living. Nevertheless, the surveys show more families concerned with the future of the “Szekler Land” and the Transylvanian Hungarians than the economic stability of the country. Nevertheless, in a question focused on family life, it becomes clear that the greatest concern seems to be for the welfare of one’s children, with the income of the family coming second.

            In the interview portion of my research, I was continually reminded of the regional interest in the upbringing of progeny. My first meeting was with Zoltan Elekes, who was the head of the county branch for child protection, and gave deep insight in the development of current systems set in place. Coming out of the Soviet Union, Romania had large governmental orphanages with anywhere from tens to hundreds of children at a time. When Romania petitioned to join the European Union, among many other accommodations, it had to update its child protection services. The teeming homes were dismantled, being replaced by “adoptive families,” who took in one or a few children at a time to their own homes in exchange for modest stipends and payment. This was especially important for children under the age of three, who could legally not be in larger homes, where a guardian would be responsible full-time for eight to ten orphans. Recent efforts have been focused on making the adoption process more fluid and offering stronger incentives for guardians.

            Zoltan Elekes and Dr. Sólyom also connected me with representatives from two NGOs involved with child protection in the area. The first, The Csibész Foundation, provides an alumni network for adults leaving the governmental child protection services. Houses run by The Csibész Foundation develop the independence and work ethic of these adults, giving them marketable skills and job opportunities, if possible. The Dévai Szent Ferenc Foundation, mentioned previously, works with underprivileged children, providing them with food, shelter, and a community focused on their wellbeing and education. Parents and guardians still have custody over their children, and most children are returned to them during breaks from school. One of the greatest struggles for this foundation is accrediting their homes, as Romania recently erased the dated standards of accreditation, but never when through the trouble of establishing new ones.

            The interviews, with the background of literature I was provided with, provided me a clearer understanding of the ongoing poverty levels and frustrations in a supposedly developed country. Hearing about the hurdles present for both government-run and civil organizations in developing futures for underprivileged and orphaned children has pushed me to shed light on the inefficiency of the Romanian government in addressing these measures, while at the same time developing measures by which Notre Dame students or Americans in general can volunteer or assist in the progress that Transylvania needs. The Nanovic Institute for European Studies has provided me with a strong framework for following through with the promises I have made to myself and the individuals and groups I met while abroad, and I hope to work side-by-side with the Institute in addressing the issues I encountered throughout the course of this project.

Student Spotlight: Molly Geraghty

Posted on April 8, 2015 in Research, Students

bhvp-02

In writing my grant proposal for the Senior Fall Break Travel and Research Grant, I had prepared an agenda to look at specific resources in the the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris (BHVP) so I could get right to work on my first day in Paris.

However, Paris had different plans. Upon arriving at the BHVP, I found that it would be closed throughout the week for construction and repair, though this notice was not listed on any websites relating to the BHVP, including those of the French government and the national library system.

Instead of seeing this as a defeat, I chose to view it as an opportunity to explore other resources. Given my research interest in the popular reception of opera in revolutionary France, particularly at the Opera Garnier, I found my way into the library/museum of the national opera of France, the Bibliothèque-Musée de l’Opéra. I also found resources to consult at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), which led me down roads of discovery that I never would have come across if the BHVP hadn’t been closed.

garnier

As an added bonus, I got to work inside the Opera Garnier itself, the illustrious edifice that served as a setting for the events in the Phantom of the Opera, the story that inspired my original research!

As a result of this small roadblock, I was able to discover one of the most exciting truths about research — it is always changing. Researchers must constantly adapt to keep up with it as they find new resources and discover new ideas.

The research I did in Paris over fall break 2014 was a continuation of the trail of discoveries I began a year earlier during fall break of 2013, through another grant from the Nanovic Institute. Previously, I had studied two specific incidences of audience interaction at the Opera: the modern film adaptation of the fictional story of the Phantom of the Opera and the failed premiere of Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhaeuser at the National Opera of Paris in 1861. I had learned during my last visit to the Paris libraries that these incidences of audience interaction at the Paris Opera were not accidental coincidences but rather two instances of a greater historical trend. It seemed that the opera was used as a stage by far more than just the performers.

bmo-small

This time around, I thought it would be interesting to expand my search and explore this tradition of audience interaction during revolutionary times, when the atmosphere of rebellion and independence would only support and encourage uprisings at the opera. As it turned out, history was just as entertaining as fiction.

My time in Paris showed me the dynamic nature of research. I also learned a great deal more about the topic of audience interaction, which I am currently developing into a thesis with the help of my research mentor, Professor Julia Douthwaite, and found fascinating stories that serve both as support for my thesis and as entertainment to help the long hours spent at the library pass by quickly.

People have a remarkable ability to adapt in order to survive tough circumstances, and my time in Paris over fall break exploring the active role of the audience in the Paris Opera through times of struggle and oppression allowed me to both learn about that and experience it firsthand!

Molly Geraghty (’15)
Major in Science Pre-Professional Studies and French
Senior Fall Break 2014 Travel and Research Grant

Gen X and 1989 in Poland

Posted on November 20, 2014 in Events, Partners, Social and Political Geographies

On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, Alicja Kusiak-Brownstein (Visiting Faculty) joined A. James McAdams (Director, Nanovic Institute), David Cortright (Kroc Institute), and Sebastian Rosato (Political Science) for a panel discussion commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall. Her reflections are reprinted here below.

After being invited to the panel “The Berlin Wall 25 Years On: Its Meaning, Then and Now,” I asked my friends in Poland, who in 1989 were in their late teens and early twenties: how do you remember the fall of the wall?

Though from a far distance, their memories resonate with Prof. A. James McAdams’ observation that the Berlin Wall did not fall so much as it opened. They also embody the point made by Prof. David Cortright that civil society had the leading role in the transformations of the late 1980s. Moreover, those memories, though indirectly, reveal one important quality of the political changes epitomized by the fall of the Berlin Wall: its peacefulness. That quality is too often played down. The fall of the Berlin Wall was certainly a spectacular media event seen around the world. Yet the fall of the wall was just one of a series of events that helped to bring down communism in Eastern Europe over a three-year period. This peaceful dismantling of the communist regimes spared us the trauma caused by military violence, one that could have lasted for generations.

One of my immediate observations, however, was how much the place where one stands defines the point of view, or in other words, how different the fall of the Berlin Wall is remembered by the Poles who at the time lived in the West, and those of us who lived in the East. The West was astounded at the collapse of the wall. Justyna, in 1989 an undergraduate student at University of California in San Diego, said she was astonished to see the reports about the Berlin Wall in the newspapers. “I was very surprised that it is happening now… simply, one beautiful day communism collapsed, and that’s that.” Hania, who worked in a photography studio in Suresne, in the western suburbs of Paris, said she was petrified when she first heard the news. While the French radio constantly played the reports from Berlin, her little shop turned into a discussion club, where clients and employees had heated debates about what that event would bring to Germany, Europe, and the world.

The memories from the Polish side show less surprise. Andrzej’s first thoughts were clear and patriotic: “Damn it! It’s gonna be a great symbol of the fall of the communism. Germans took over us, the Poles, again!” Indeed, in 1989 Poland was in the avant-garde of the political changes in Eastern Block. Following the wave of strikes in 1988, communism had been dismantling peacefully, in conference rooms, through open and the closed-door negotiations. In the spring 1989, the Round Table Talks between the communist government, the anti-communist opposition, and with observers from the Catholic and the Lutheran churches, agreed to carry out the first semi-free election. Held in June 1989, the election brought the overwhelming victory of the Solidarity movement. By November 9, when the demolition of the Berlin Wall began, Poland already had its new government, containing the members of the opposition and the communist political establishment, with Tadeusz Mazowiecki, one of the Solidarity leaders, as Prime Minister.

Some young people took the great political changes as a flow of life. When the news reached Małgosia in her hometown, Białystok, she was preparing for finals in high school: “I was buried with books, notebooks, tired, sleepy, beleaguered by my Polish language teacher. Then, my mother entered the room and said: ‘Małgosia, did you hear that? The Berlin Wall just fell.’ I answered: It’s about time, isn’t it? I had a feeling that this fall of the wall is like… after dinner, mustard.” Doszka, then a student at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, remembers a visit of West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl: “While his bus was passing by Planty Park, he waved to ‘the natives’. And then… he suddenly left.” The fall of the Berlin Wall prompted Chancellor Kohl to interrupt his visit in Poland for one day, November 10, yet in the following day he resumed it.

Other youngsters felt euphoria mixed with anxiety. Nearly all of us remember that “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd was being played everywhere. Ola recalls: “I thought: It’s wonderful! The world is changing in front of me. Everything is possible!” In 1990 she traveled with friends from Warsaw to Berlin to the concert “The Wall – Live in Berlin” by Roger Waters and guests, a performance of Pink Floyd’s legendary album. They traveled with no restrictions. Kasia remarked: “I was aware that the world around me was changing, but I was also worrying whether its was happening for real, or whether somebody will soon call it off and everything will be as it always was.” Iza, who when I asked, just happened to be going through archives of photographs and short films from 1989 in Poznań, said: “I am struck by one thing in these images – the faces of ordinary people. Happy faces. So uncommon now.”

For most of us, the Fall of the Berlin Wall was just another, though spectacular, TV event in the time that Padraic Kenney has called “the Carnival of the Revolution.” The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in November-December 1989 was awakening memories of the Warsaw Pact’s invasion during the Prague Spring of 1968. Many of us recall the anxiety around the events in the Baltic States. In August 1989 approximately two million people formed a human chain for a distance of nearly 420 miles, across the territories of Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian Soviet Republics. That peaceful demonstration, known as the Baltic Way, followed the Estonian declaration of sovereignty in 1988. The outcome of the events in the Baltic States was the ultimate test of whether the change was for real, or whether the Soviet Union was going to wake us up with kalashnikovs. It did not. The subsequent “parade of sovereignties,” when all other Soviet republics declared their independence, led to a peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Yet, many of us remember also the bloody collapse of the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania, instigated by protests in Timișoara, in December 1989. The images from the execution of the Ceaușescus came as a reminder that there are other ways in which political systems collapse. In the following year the wars in Yugoslavia began, getting news big coverage in Eastern Europe. For eight years, daily footages were pushing in front of our eyes images of the horrors of the civil war: mass murders, mass rapes, ethnic cleansing, waves of refugees, and the destruction of the cultural heritage. When the Berlin Wall was falling and millions of people peacefully called for political change all over Eastern Europe, few of us imagined that soon we would see reports of genocide.

1989 was the year of high spirits. The level of activism among young people was very high. It seemed like we were all involved in something—amateur theater, amateur press, music, politics, religious and self-education groups, free travel without money, fraternization, “the first joint and getting high!” University students, who were still very much radicalized, called for impromptu gatherings, and did not miss any opportunity to protest on the streets, challenging the infamous armed troops of the militia—until then a symbol of the brutality of the communist regime. The armed militia for its part actively tried to avoid clashes with students. In Polish cities “the walls” were falling on every street.

The Berlin Wall outlasted its fall, transformed into gravel, and went on a world tour. In the autumn of 1990, Hania travelled from France to Poland, through Berlin. She went to the wall, chipped off, as she said, “one of the last remnants from the Berlin Wall,” and brought it to Poznań. She said she could not do otherwise: “I remember when my father and I travelled to East Berlin to buy the photography accessories. My father had a little photo-studio in Zbąszyń. Before crossing the border with Poland, we were parking our Syrena [a car] in the woods, disabling the engine of the car, and hiding the photography paper, films, etc., as it was illegal to carry them across the border. While in Berlin, my father was always taking me by the Berlin Wall, saying: ‘Remember my child, behind this wall is freedom.’ Soon after, her piece of the wall reached my hands.

In the spring of 1990 university history students in Poznań began occupying, and eventually took over, the big and hideous residence of the communist party, located in the city center. They did it to chase communists away, and to solve the permanent housing problems of their own department, squeezed in one building with all possible modern languages and literatures. This was the building where I began my history studies.

In 1991 the spirit at the university was still anarchic. After a class on the theory of history, instead of going home, we stayed and talked with our lecturer, and with whoever wished to enter our seminar room. We were smoking like chimneys, drinking beer and strong tea, and discussing our present and our future—that is history in the making. Once, a young artist entered the room, listened for a while, then grabbed something from his pocket and said: “Would you like to hold a piece of the Berlin Wall… for a while?” That piece of wall, Hania’s piece, with smudges of paint, circulated from hand to hand. We did not treat it as a relic. We knew that we could do with it anything we wanted, including throwing it through the window. And that was the Berlin Wall. Now dispersed, circulating in a million fragments throughout the world. The feeling of great opportunities and the open world was overwhelming and palpable. Yet, as history taught us, it did not last long.

Let me put that one piece of the Wall in context: children grow up fast in a time of political or social turmoil. While holding that piece of the wall, I was thinking about the moment Martial Law was declared in Poland, in 1981. It was the response of the communist regime to the Solidarity movement. The night before the declaration of Martial Law, my mother and I stood by the window in a dark room of our apartment house, by the road which connected Poznań—the biggest city in western Poland—with the largest Polish and Soviet military bases. Though all the windows in the apartments around us were dark, we knew that all the residents are up, and were doing the same as we did: counting the tanks and military vehicles passing under our windows. I remember after my mother reached one hundred, she burst in tears. Yet, more important than the number of the tanks, was whether they had the red star on them. If they did, it meant that Poland had been invaded. If not, there was still a chance that we could avoid a civil war by negotiations. So, holding a piece of the Berlin Wall eight years after that traumatic event, which I still can vividly see, it seemed somehow surreal.

That evening, this piece of the wall opened up the memory bag for others as well. My experience appeared to be modest compared with that of my older companions. Gwidon, our teacher, as an undergraduate got involved in printing and distributing dissident flyers. Dragged by the militia from the dorm, he remained in prison for half a year. He was beaten during interrogation, though as he always admitted, “not severely,” and eventually released for lack of evidence. Other friends shared their anecdotes about confrontations with the armed militia, mostly recounting physical and moral wounds, bruises, and proudly explaining how they avoided being raped. The tone was not heroic, but picaresque. After all – we were young. And what stands out most from the memories evoked by the fall of the Berlin Wall was the euphoria of freedom and of youth. From the perspective of personal and collective memory, the grand politics appear as nothing more than a colorful background to those things that my friends and I identify as the most important for us, then: love, friendship, activism, exploring the world, and ourselves in the world.

Why do I think this series of memory postcards is important to remember? Because, no matter how historians, politicians, or social scientists evaluate the Revolution of 1989, its most important characteristic was that, for the most part, it was peaceful. It came as a result of negotiation. Had it been otherwise, the memories I just recalled would be very different. There is great value in a peaceful resolution of political conflicts. In the case of East Europeans in 1989, it saved our youth and many lives. Thanks to the peaceful, though noisy, fall of the Berlin Wall, we do not remember it as clearly, as we remember our own most colorful and noisy years.

I would like to thank Justyna Beinek, Małgorzata Fidelis, Andrzej Kałwa, Dobrochna Kałwa, Marzena Lizurej, Izabella Main, Anna Muller, Aleksandra Sekuła, Izabela Skórzyńska, Katarzyna Stańczak-Wiślicz, Błażej Warkocki, Hanna Zaworonko-Olejniczak, for sharing with me their memories.

Migration, Italy, Europe

Posted on November 1, 2013 in The Movement of Peoples

Professor and Nanovic fellow Maurizio Albahari (Anthropology) drew attention again to the plight of migrants to Italy from North Africa with a piece published at CNN earlier in October. The Nanovic Institute had a conversation with him, as follows.

What happened off the coast of Lampedusa on October 3rd?

After several hours in distress, adrift off the coast of Lampedusa, somebody on the overcrowded migrant boat ignited blankets to generate smoke and call for help—it is plausible that in Libya smugglers had confiscated cell phones. People on board did not realize what was happening and panicked. The boat capsized. 366 young men, women, and children perished. 155 were eventually rescued by private boats and by the Italian armed forces. Most of the victims had fled the authoritarian country of Eritrea, where among other constraints young people face the obligation of indefinite military conscription and forced labor.

Is North African migration to Europe a temporary phenomenon, or is it part of some larger pattern?

Europe needs to understand that Egypt and Libya—countries which are hosting economic and forced migrants from the rest of Africa and the Middle East—are currently facing economic and political instability, sectarian and regional violence, and a surge in xenophobia. In these conditions, migration to Europe will continue, and North Africa will remain a region of origin and transit for maritime migrants.

Why is it illegal for migrants to get on planes and ferries and leave their countries? Don’t such laws, and the Bossi-Fini law of 2002 in Italy, contravene Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? If so, what pressure for reform, if any, can be brought to bear?

The vast majority of would-be economic immigrants from African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries cannot legally travel to Italy and to the EU without first securing a job contract while in their countries. Forced migrants, including Syrians, Somalis, and Eritreans, can apply for asylum only after physically arriving to European countries by unauthorized means.

What is the most important thing European organizations can do to help?

Bring policymakers to realize that smugglers are not the cause of migration. Thus, for displaced and forced migrants legal channels for asylum application and humanitarian protection need to be developed prior to those migrants enriching criminal smuggler networks and risking their lives in the Mediterranean. More broadly, the EU–if it is truly uncomfortable about the twenty thousand people who have perished while trying to reach its soil–needs to develop a more rational, coherent, and homogenous asylum, immigration, and family reunification policy.

The official memorial service for the victims was held in Agrigento, not Lampedusa, and excluded the 155 survivors. How do you interpret these choices?

The Italian Government has delivered a memorial service. This is unprecedented, as it honored non-citizens. But Enrico Letta, Italy’s Prime Minister, had promised official state funerals. In reality, victims had already been buried, in Agrigento and elsewhere in Sicily. The request of survivors to attend was not accommodated either, as they are still detained in Lampedusa. And many in the Eritrean community cannot understand why the Eritrean ambassador in Italy was invited, when it is precisely from the Eritrean Government that their brothers and sisters are massively escaping from. In practice, the people who should have been at the center of the memorial service, including Lampedusa’ s citizens and administrators, have understood the memorial as a mere ceremony, rather than a healing ritual, and as a parade for national politicians.

More recently, Prof. Albahari has addressed the place of outsiders in Europe in general.

Youth Unemployment in Europe Rises Again

Posted on October 31, 2013 in Patterns of Integration, Social and Political Geographies, The Movement of Peoples

Europe continues to struggle with youth unemployment, which reached a record high in September. An especially interesting response is the return of traditional agriculture:

In Portugal, a growing number of young people, including graduates, have been returning to the land to take up farming. The government is encouraging the trend and now offers six-month paid training agricultural courses for 6,000 people aged between 18 and 35. The number of applicants for such schemes rose to 8,000 in 2012 from just 1,000 in 2008. Some 35 percent had higher education. Greece offers subsidies to new farmers, and also provides state-owned land at a nominal price, or even rent-free, to under 35-year-olds who are prepared to cultivate it.

The road to serfdom, or the road to surfing the dome of another economic bubble? The Financial Times has more.

From Cyprus to Italy

Posted on March 22, 2013 in Patterns of Integration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not pleased with Cyprus governance:

Merkel told a closed-door meeting of legislators in Berlin today that she’s annoyed the Cypriot government hasn’t been in touch with the so-called troika of international creditors for days, according to a party official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the briefing was private. Cyprus’s decision to test Europe is unacceptable, she told them.

Could such a seizure of private banking deposits occur elsewhere in Europe? The idea has already been floated. Joerg Kraemer, chief economist of Commerzbank, was quoted recently in Handelsblatt Online about Italy:

Net financial assets of the Italians … amounts to 173 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). This was significantly more than the net financial assets of the Germans, which corresponds to 124 percent of GDP, said Kramer. “So it would make sense, in Italy a one-time property tax levy,” suggested the Bank economist. “A tax rate of 15 percent on financial assets would probably be enough to push the Italian government debt to below the critical level of 100 percent of gross domestic product.”

In the meantime, a pro-Europe but anti-euro party has emerged in Germany and polled at 26-40% early this month.

UPDATE 3/27/13: Spiegel is reporting significant capital flight from two Cypriot banks on the eve of the deal, despite the “capital controls”:

There are indications that large sums flowed out of the two banks just before the first bailout package was signed in the early morning hours of March 16. At the end of January, some 40 percent of all savings held in Cypriot accounts were on the books of those two banks. Since then, however, much of it has been transferred elsewhere, despite orders from the central bank that accounts at the two institutions be frozen.

This appears to be an excellent way of demolishing every last trace of trust in both governing and financial systems.

UPDATE 3/28/13: The new President of the Eurogroup’s finance ministers told Reuters that Cyprus is not a special case but represents a new template for dealing with eurozone bank problems:

“What we’ve done last night is what I call pushing back the risks,” Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, told Reuters and the Financial Times hours after the Cyprus deal was struck.” If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be ‘Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?’. If the bank can’t do it, then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders,” he said.

Well, interesting times are ahead.

Nanovision in December

Posted on January 9, 2013 in Patterns of Integration, Religion & Secularization, Social and Political Geographies, The Movement of Peoples

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)

AMS awards Nanovic Fellow

Posted on November 29, 2012 in Research

Pierpaolo Polzonetti, assistant professor in the Program of Liberal Studies and Nanovic Institute Faculty Fellow at the University of Notre Dame, has been awarded the 2012 Lewis Lockwood Award for his book, Italian Opera in the Age of the American Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2011). The book looks at how revolutionary America appeared to European audiences through the medium of opera.

Book by Pierpaolo Polzonetti

Italian Opera in the Age of the American Revolution

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies is mentioned in the acknowledgments for supporting the book’s research funds, and microfilm acquisition, and hosting of a faculty discussion group that participated heavily in the review of the book. The Institute also provided support in the acquisition of the copy of L’orfanella americana, a rare Italian opera manuscript from 1787 that scholars had believed lost, but resurfaced in 2008 in Genoa, Italy.

The Lewis Lockwood Award honors each year a musicological book of exceptional merit published during the previous year in any language and in any country by a scholar in the early stages of his or her career who is a member of the American Musicological Society or a permanent resident or citizen of the United States or Canada.

France Expels Roma

Posted on September 13, 2012 in The Movement of Peoples

The French Socialist Government continues to dismantle camps and deport Roma from the outskirts of Paris. The first great jazz musician from Europe was Django Reinhardt (b. 1910), from the Sinti group of Roma. Reinhardt lived in the outskirts of Paris near Saint-Ouen.