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Not long ago, a journalist from the Slovenian newspaper Vecer wrote that while culture does not rank among the top priorities of Maribor’s city leaders, they are nevertheless more than happy to boast about the European Capital of Culture (ECC) project for 2012.

The new ecology of war

An interview with Mike Davis

“Global epidemics and global terrorism are two problems that principally emanated from the slums. When one talks about ‘failed states’ one often means ‘failed cities’, such as Gaza, Sadr City or the slums of Port-au-Prince.” Urban theorist Mike Davis talks in interview about the evolution of the neoliberal city.

Forget journals!

An interview with Mark C. Taylor

This interview first appeared in “Crosswords”, a multilingual and transnational journal on multilingualism and digital networking, published in the context of “crosswords X mots croisés. 21st European Meeting of Cultural Journals” in Paris 2008.

Forget Europe!

An interview with Homi Bhabha

An “interventionist, cultural-activist, pan-European community of journals” should not limit itself to an expanded Europe, Homi Bhaba suggests. The work of cultural journals is per se internationalist and has to link communities of intellectuals and activists around the world. This interview first appeared in “Crosswords”, a multilingual and transnational journal on multilingualism and digital networking, published in the context of “crosswords X mots croisés. 21st European Meeting of Cultural Journals” in Paris 2008.

Cover for: Places and strata of memory

Places and strata of memory

Approaches to eastern Europe

The idea of 1989 as an annus mirabilis in which everything changed is too crude, writes Karl Schlögel. Rather, it was the result of a long incubation period that took a very different course in each Eastern Bloc country. In a benchmark essay for the twentieth anniversary celebrations, Schlögel stresses the entanglements and ambiguities of postwar history and asks whether it is too soon to start talking of a “common European history”.

The current consensus is that the financial sector needs more regulation. This perspective sees markets as sound in principle, merely distorted by concealed risks. However transparency is no guarantee against bubbles and crashes. It is the rationale for the universal interconnection of capital that needs to be disputed, argues André Orléan.

Salman Rushdie’s critics lost the battle but they won the war against free speech, writes Kenan Malik. The argument at the heart of the anti-Rushdie case – that it is morally unacceptable to cause offence to other cultures – is now widely accepted.

I keep reading in newspapers and on the Internet that the worst thing you can call someone is “racist”. Lately it has become very popular to say that you can’t say anything anymore without being labelled racist – and that is dangerous for “the real racism”.

National images of the past

The twentieth century and the "war of memories". An appeal by the International Memorial Society

Often, the memory of one nation contradicts that of another. If these disparities are recognized and understood, the historical awareness of each society is enriched. If not, they can be exploited for political ends. Eurozine republishes a call by the “The International Memorial Society” for the creation of a platform upon which such a dialogue can be conducted.

A reluctant look back

Jews and the Holocaust in Ukraine

In Ukraine, once a centre of eastern European Jewish life, the Jewish population and its culture all but perished during the Holocaust. During the Soviet period, that culture slipped yet further into oblivion. Today, Ukraine’s official politics of remembrance omits the country’s Jewish heritage, leaving it to private organisations to try to embed Jewish culture and history into national consciousness.

Repress, reassess, remember

Jewish heritage in Lithuania

Important centres of eastern European Jewish life used to be lo-cated on the territory of modern Lithuania. Almost all Jews living there were murdered by the Nazis and their Lithuanian accomplices. In the Soviet Union, commemoration of the Jews and the preservation of their heritage were taboo. This changed with Lithuanian independence. However, the acceptance of co-responsibility for the murder of Lithua-nia’s Jews has met with resistance within the political world. Neverthe-less, the place of Lithuanian Jewish heritage is increasingly secure in the view of history now found in society at large and among young people in particular.

Disputed memory

Jewish past, Polish remembrance

Before WWII, over 3 million Jews lived in Poland. Almost all of them were killed during the Shoah. The Communist regime forbade commemoration of Jews as a special group of victims. That has changed since 1990, but remembrance of Jews still polarises Polish society. That is shown by the debate over Jedwabne and the post-war pogroms. There exists a competition of victims between Jews and Poles. A mythological and symbolic figure of “the Jew” is still at work in Polish memory. Moreover, a “virtual Jewry” has come into being at former sites of Jewish life.

From obscurantism to holiness

"Eastern Jewish" thought in Buber, Heschel, and Levinas

In public perception, eastern European Jewish thought is shrouded in mysticism. The intellectuals Martin Buber, Joshua Heschel, and Emmanuel Levinas shared the eastern European Jewish experience, an education in existential philosophy in Germany, and the ordeal of witnessing the mass murder of Europe’s Jews. They share a universalistic ethic aimed at promoting direct human responsibility. Above all, it is Levinas to whom we owe an appreciation of what one could call “eastern European Jewry”.

Remembrance as balancing act

The public and academic treatment of eastern Europe's Jewish heritage

Knowledge about the life of the east European Jews and the Shoah has grown in past decades. But the appropriate transmission of east European Jewish history and culture poses great challenges. On the one hand, there is a danger of remembrance of the Holocaust sliding into commercialism and kitsch; on the other hand, treating Jewish life as a museum artefact runs the risk of forgetting its renaissance. Here, academics, educators and curators explain the conclusions they have drawn from attempting this balancing act.

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