Archive for the ‘Religion & Secularization’ Category

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)

Michelangelo Frammartino

Posted on March 2, 2012 in Events, Film, Opinion, Religion & Secularization

Every semester the Nanovic Institute organizes a European film series which galvanizes what has come to be a sizable audience. Last semester, the series was guest curated by film producer Leslee Udwin (a friend of the Institute) and focused on Europe, Beyond Borders. This semester, as is our practice  every other semester, we pull together a Best of Recent European Film to keep the series fresh and current.

The first film of this semester was Michelangelo Frammartino’s QUATTRO VOLTE (“The Four Times”).

ND Italianists, always in piazza, were out in full force for this one. John Welle (Professor of Italian) gave a gentle introduction which set the tone for this unusual film, which is nearly silent, poetic, and has no human dialogue. Frammartino’s use of Pythagoras’s theory of the fourfold transmigration of the soul (hence the title) made me care about the shepherd, the sheep, the tree, and (yes) charcoal. How is this possible? By following how one is shown to mingle with the other.

There is something medieval about this film, not only in its intuition of the Great Chain of Being, but also in its cinematography. Several fixed-camera shots are composed so that you follow movement on the screen as if you were following a narrative placed on a two-dimensional surface, as in a gothic painting. Frammartino’s shots are beautifully composed. I wouldn’t be surprised if many were consciously or unconsciously arranged in Golden Sections. (He does have a background in architecture.) You have to watch the film in a different way. It is organized by repetition. Props to Frammartino for taking these kinds of risks.

It’s great for students looking for fresh ways of thinking about the kind of experience one can have in a cinema.