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"The neighbour as spy"

Arena assesses collateral damage; Le Monde diplomatique (Berlin) contrasts multicultural London with egalitarian Paris; Varlik tells the neighbours what they don't want to hear; Lateral interviews Spanish literature's harshest critics; Gegenworte searches for the sites of science; Wespennest goes back to where it all started; Magyar Lettre Internationale finds nobody home; Arche analyzes Belarusian politics.


Arena 6/2005

The news about CIA "torture flights" and secret prison camps on European soil currently occupies public debate all over Europe. After being released, Khaled El-Masri, of Ulm, Germany, is the first to sue the CIA for "rendition", and questions are now being raised concerning how much the former ministers of interior and foreign affairs knew about the kidnappings of German citizens. Swedish Arena focuses on another case of "collateral damage" in the War on Terror.

In 2001, as a result of US-led attempts to hit the financial base of al-Qaeda, three Swedish citizens were put in economic quarantine. Their bank accounts were frozen and any attempts to employ them or provide other means of economic support were forbidden. The ban has now been lifted from two of them, but the third remains on the list of terrorist supporters, although no evidence has been presented to support the charges.

Eurozine Review


Every two weeks, the Eurozine Review rounds up current issues published by the journals in the Eurozine network. This is just a selection of the more than 80 Eurozine partners published in 34 countries.

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Journalist Mikael Nyberg tells the story of "the third man", Ahmed Yusuf, and reveals the scandalously submissive attitude of Swedish politicians, who have failed to protect the rights of their citizens. "When the US government and its followers use the Security Council to force their dictates on the rest of the world, even the UN is turned into a threat [to the rule of law]", writes Nyberg. At such times, the independence of the Swedish political and judicial system is put to the test. In the case of Ahmed Yusuf, it has failed miserably.

The main theme section of this issue of Arena features three highly provocative articles on disabilities. Attempts by marginalized groups to win back and revalue terms that have been used to offend and belittle their members are always controversial. "Crip" is such an intrinsically aggressive term that is now being reclaimed by disabled people all over the world. Robert McRuer introduces "crip theory". Modelled on the already established queer theory, crip theory is an attempt to add a "more floating, critical, and exploring concept of identity" to traditional disability studies.

Disability studies is getting more and more radical in the academic field, but what about in practice? Arena turns the perspective around here as well. Lars Grönvik champions state-funded sex for disabled people, and Susanne Berg rethinks the concept of citizenship from her wheelchair.

Also to look out for: cultural sociologist Les Back on multiculturalism in post-terror London; and a manifesto by four female Swedish artists on male artists' fear of democracy.

The full table of contents of Arena 6/2005.


Le Monde diplomatique (Berlin) 12/2005

After the riots in the French banlieues, the conservative London Spectator featured "Eurabia" on its front page: a map of northern Europe overshadowed by a huge Islamic half-moon. Such demagogy, writes ethnologist Peter Loizos, attests to British ignorance. Many French citizens of Algerian descent are no more "Muslim" than most French are "Catholic". He dismisses the idea that the riots were just a minority problem, focusing instead on the sociological, economic, and ethnological sides of the conflict.

"London is not Paris", says Loizos, looking at the difference between the British "celebration of diversity" and French "republican equality". Loizos finds the British model by no means completely successful. However, British society gives the numerous minorities the feeling that it is acceptable to be proud of their own traditions and distinctions, and to express this in public.

In contrast to the British situation, Loizos notes that the main problem facing the French political system is on the economic level. Citing a British newspaper's advice, he advocates more "bad" jobs, which would give the unemployed at least a chance at gaining professional experience and access to a career. Rather than creating more secure positions, which are informally reserved for the white French workers, posts need to be developed for the "hyphenated French", such as Algerian-French or Mali-French – those whose identity the French state has not yet taken notice of, writes Loizos.

Historian Mohammed Harbi looks at the political and moral discussion about the Algerian War of Independence that has developed in France over the past few years, where critics claim that facts have been falsified and memories negated: "At the centre of the debate is the lack of willingness to grasp the connection between colonial times and the present immigration policy."

Further articles on Africa: editor of Italian Le Monde diplomatique Stefano Liberti looks at the devastating effects of gold mining on human rights in Congo; and Senegalese economist Tom Amadou Seck finds that international subsidies for cotton production work against Africa.

Don't miss: editor-in-chief of Eurozine's partner journal NZ Mischa Gabowitsch on Eurasian rivals Turkey and Russia, based on a paper delivered at the 18th European Meeting of Cultural Journals in Istanbul.

The full table of contents of Le Monde diplomatique (Berlin) 12/2005.


Varlik 12/2005

Varlik, one of the co-organizers of the Eurozine meeting in Istanbul, publishes Turkish versions of several of the conference speeches.

In his opening statement, Orhan Pamuk tries to specify the place cultural journals occupy in the contemporary media landscape. "There is nothing I like more than to grab two or three new issues of cultural journals and start to read", he says. However, in their search for readers, many of today's journals are tempted to imitate the language of mass media, to pick up issues and themes already covered and blown up by television and newspapers. The attention this might gain will always be short-lived, warns Pamuk. To remain "a space where culture resists", cultural journals must be careful not to become like their big siblings in the media field.

Turning to the main theme of the Eurozine meeting – neighbourhoods – Pamuk raises another warning finger. Although we celebrate and strive for good relations with our neighbours, especially in international politics, the concept of neighbourhoods is problematic. "To me", says Pamuk, "living in a modern city essentially means being liberated from the pressure coming from having neighbours." The neighbour is (also) someone who – if we don't love him – controls us, even spies and informs on us. To open the door to one's neighbour also means to open it to the prying and controlling eyes of society.

In such a context – where the neighbour has come to represent the repressive urge to get along well not only with one's fellow citizens, but also with the state, the police, and the army – the concern with what the neighbour might say makes "everyone keep their controversial thoughts, their dissent, to themselves".

This warning is, of course, based on personal experience. Last Friday (16 December), Orhan Pamuk stood trial for having "publicly denigrated Turkish identity". The courthouse where his case was to be tried (the trial was adjourned to 7 February) is situated directly opposite the house of Pamuk's grandmother – in his very own neighbourhood. But Pamuk is never one-dimensional, and his caution against giving up one's identity just to please one's neighbours must also be interpreted in the light of Turkey's bid for membership in the European Union.

Varlik contains conference contributions by Esra Akcan, Claus Leggewie, Mischa Gabowitsch, Hasan Bülent Kahraman, and Ayhan Kaya. In the upcoming weeks, Eurozine will publish English versions of these and other speeches from the Istanbul meeting.

The full table of contents of Varlik 12/2005.


Lateral 132 (12/2005)

"It is a magazine specialized in destruction", writes Lateral editor-in-chief Robert Juan-Cantavella of La Fiera Literaria (LFL), a conflictive journal dedicated to literary criticism. "It's libel, a publication in which the majority of the most well-known names in the Spanish literary world are defamed." All articles in LFL are signed with pseudonyms and the journal is semi-clandestinely distributed only to subscribers and active members of the cultural system, such as writers, editors, critics, and university professors.

On its tenth anniversary, LFL has allowed Juan-Cantavella to publish in Lateral an anonymous interview with one of its editors, conducted in writing rather than face-to-face. How does LFL justify the defamation of Spanish writers that appears on its pages?

In the sense that defamation means discrediting someone, publishing something to counter their good reputation and fame, we certainly defame writers who, in our opinion, and according to evidence we provide, possess a level of prestige and renown that they don't deserve. But the fact is that defamation, in common language, has become limited to the sphere of honour, dignity, and a moral "good name". In this sense, we do not defame anyone. We limit ourselves to presenting unqualified arguments concerning logic, grammar, and style; criticizing a lack of common sense; and pointing out offences to the intelligence of the reader.

Elsewhere in the issue: A look at the life of Peruan author José María Arguedas, whose novel Los ríos profondos (1956) is one of the key works of Hispano-American literature. "His love life – and sex life – was a whirlpool of relations with prostitutes and tormented women that reinforced the anxiety that led him to suicide," recounts journalist Tońo Angulo Daneri. "A story of a man trapped between desire and guilt, between virgins and whores." And Lateral director Mihály Dés writes the first in a series of stories about the "Happy Card", a discount phone card used for long-distance calls.

The full table of contents of Lateral 132 (12/2005).


Gegenworte 16 (2005)

The sixteenth issue marks the end of Gegenworte, published at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and well known for its slant on science. For the last eight years, the journal for "the discussion about knowledge" has brought together the ideas of natural, human, social, and non-scientists to open up otherwise specialized discussions to a wide audience. Each issue has been an important contribution to the public understanding of science.

In this last issue, Gegenworte is in search of the sites of science, where and how research is done, "between desk and web, cluster and jet, isle and lab".

The times when scientific discoveries were made in libraries, laboratories, or seminar rooms are long gone. Or are they? Scientists and academics seem to lead a nomadic life. Teleconferences and the World Wide Web make it easier for a lecturer, who still remains bound by his physical body, to be at several places at the same time. Who knows whether the colleague receiving my experimental data via email is next door or 3 000 kilometres away?

Mathematics, for instance, holds Günter M. Ziegler, happen first and foremost in your head. Nevertheless, he has found ten places where mathematics emerged: Leonhard Euler, in the eighteenth century, made the most fascinating discoveries working concentrated at his desk while his many children were climbing all over him. Not much later, Carl Friedrich Gauss was able to construct a regular polygon of seventeen sides right before scrambling out of bed. Dirichlet had the decisive inspiration for his proof of the boundary conditions while listening to mass in the Sistine Chapel. And Jean Leray was a prisoner of war in Austria while developing his crucial insights on modern algebraic topology.

Biochemist Ferdinand Hucho found a place for science in a very different sense in the biotechnical institute at the Moscow Academy of Sciences. During the Soviet period, the super power's molecular biology was buzzing here. Built in the 1980s for 2000 bustling scientists, the building resembles Crick and Watson's double helix. Today, some wistfully remember the prestigious place that Communist politics assigned to science and technology. Two thirds of the budget has to be raised externally; sometimes there is not even enough money for the heating.

Also to look out for: a discussion on the pros and cons of basic versus applied research. Rainer Metternich, in charge of the Schering Research Centre Europe, would like to see a stronger tie between industrial and academic research to benefit both parties. Helmut Schwarz, professor of organic chemistry in Berlin, sees basic research as a cultural contribution, necessarily funded by governments. Innovative research findings, he says, are usually a combination of curiosity and chance and cannot be planned. The problem with industrial research is that the executive boards are usually occupied by businessmen and not by researchers.

The full table of contents of Gegenworte 16 (2005).


Wespennest 141 (2005)

The latest issue of Viennese Wespennest is on "Herkunft" [origins], a concept that, as editor Jan Koneffke points out, implies "arrival". Austrian author Arno Geiger even describes it as something one has to "escape" from. Entitled "I am a fugitive from a chain gang", Geiger's essay leaves open whether the "I" of the title refers to himself, and whether his own family, which Geiger recalls having been "averagely shattered and averagely child-damaging", is the "chain gang" from which he has fled.

Rather than autobiography, the reader is offered a fictional substitute: a character in Geiger's prize-winning novel Es geht uns gut (2005). "For him, the family has no 'bosom', it is no place for escape, for love, for shelter. Instead, he chokes on his family as if on a bone. The less he succeeds in coughing up this bone, the less he identifies with his condition", writes Geiger. "He knows that he cannot escape himself, but he also knows that he can break with things and that he is in no way bound to remain the same – because, regardless of where he comes from, it makes a difference whether he turns left or right."

Other contributions are explicitly biographical. In an excerpt from her memoirs, Irmgard Heydorn, an opponent of National Socialism and later co-founder of the SDS (Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund), traces her political-ethical impulse back to her family origins. Romanian poet Ioana Ieronim mourns the passing of the idyll that was pre-war Siebenbürgen: "Only on the screen of nostalgia do the hay-laden carts of yesteryear still go past". And Mehmet Emir, a Kurdish-Turkish musician and photographer who arrived in Vienna in 1980 to join his father as a road builder, publishes photographs of the residents of his native village.

Elsewhere in the issue: journalist Ernst Kilian writes a Balkan travelogue; Olga Martynova introduces poets from St Petersburg; and German translations of two Eurozine articles: György Spiró's satire of EU arts-funding policy, and Bülent Somay's prediction of Lacanian apocalypse.

The full table of contents of Wespennest 141 (2005).


Magyar Lettre Internationale 59 (2005)

The winter edition of Hungarian Lettre picks up the thread of "origins", collecting fiction, essays, and interviews in a section entitled "Nobody home". It includes an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Polish author Irena Grudzinska Gross on Joseph Brodsky and Milosz Czeslaw's friendship during their exile in the US. She compares the two poets' treatment of empire (the Russian and, in Brodsky's case, also the Roman), referring to their concepts of political and historical geography as expressed in their opposing visions of central Europe, of the place of the poet in society, and of the poet's loyalty to his native language.

In a dossier on Norwegian cultural and national identity, Stig Saeterbakken declares, "My heart belongs to Europe, therefore it is broken". The author is sick of the recurring phrase: "No Norwegians were hurt", appended to every report of disasters worldwide, "like an embarrassing refrain from a pop song you dislike, but still can't get out of your head". What is it about Norway's history, Saeterbakken wonders, that makes Norwegians see pro-Europeans as lapsed nationalists? "To declare oneself a European is to reply 'I am Noman' when Polyphemus asks one's name", he writes. Ulysses' reply frees him to rescue his crew, to continue his journey, and "to accomplish his ultimate goal: to return home."

Elsewhere in the issue: "To Ukraine through eastern Hungary" by Polish author Andrzej Stasiuk, a chapter from his recently published eastern European travelogue, "On the road to Babadag"; "Joining the Club. Austria, Finland, and Sweden ten years after, Hungary one year after EU entry" – a discussion panel with Richard Swartz, Gábor Csordas, Bela Rásky, and Henri Nyssonen at a symposium at the Collegium Budapest in May 2005; and the fifth part of Marius Ivaskevicius' "My Scandinavia", available in Eurozine in English translation.

The full table of contents of Magyar Lettre 59 (2005).


Arche 6/2005

With the elections in Belarus in September next year, the latest issue of Belarusian magazine Arche concentrates squarely on the political situation in the country. "The Congress of the Democratic Forces" (the Belarusian opposition coalition) recently put forward Alexander Milinkevich as its single presidential candidate for 2006, and launched its campaign with the "The Day of Solidarity" on 16 October.

Opening the issue, Nerijus Prekevicius, discourse analyst at the University of Stockholm, identifies some early mistakes in the opposition's campaign on three levels: election promises, campaign preparation, and organized activities.

Andrew Wilson, lecturer in Russian and Ukrainian studies at the University of London, assesses "The single candidates' chances at the 2006 Election". The incumbent regime is likely to employ a number of tactics to blunt the opposition's force, says Wilson, including setting up a radical third candidate to make Lukashenko appear the lesser evil, and exploiting anti-Polish sentiment against Milinkevich. But the Orange spark may still start a fire. Russia's support for Lukashenko is waning, while the opposition will receive US and EU support, above all from the new members bordering Belarus. Even if it fails to replace Lukashenko, the opposition can prompt gradual liberalization in the country, writes Wilson.

In "Orientalism, or A few remarks on the case of Belarus", Andrej Kazakevich criticizes the trend among Russian-speaking Belarusian intellectuals to dismiss Belarus as inessential to Western and Russian thought. Having been marginalized, intellectuals struggle to describe the cultural, and social reality in Belarus. Instead, says Kazakevich, they turn to nineteenth-century Russian philosophy and sociology, thereby perpetuating myths of "archaism" and "patriarchy".

Also in the issue: Anders Ĺslund on "Putin's decline and America's response"; Uladzimer Matskevich on dimensions of the national language debate; and a conversation with Francham Siwkom on why "Our literature still remains an apologist sphere".

The full table of contents of Arche 6/2005.

This is just a selection of the more than 50 Eurozine partners published in 32 countries. For current tables of contents, self-descriptions, and subscription and contact details of all Eurozine partners, please see the partner section.

 



Published 2005-12-20


Original in English
© Eurozine
 

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