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No maths and no water in Stolipinovo

The jobs boom in Bulgaria has left the Roma behind

With the EU accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the Roma became the largest autochthonous ethnic minority within the Union, without this translating into political influence. While there is general agreement at the political level that socio-economic integration of Roma is desirable, neither the EU commission nor the national governments appear to be prepared to implement the necessary strategies to bring this about, writes Nikoleta Popkostadinova.

Citizen Victim

The migrant youth, the RAF terrorist, and the German feuilletons

The alarmist reaction from parts of the German media to a recent spate of violent assaults by migrant youths on “native” Germans – talk has been of a cultural clash – bore striking similarities to last year’s controversy over the release from prison of two former members of the Red Army Faction. In both cases, media sympathy for the “victims” of violence fed directly into political campaigns targeting the majority’s sense of embattlement.

Global museums in the twenty-first century

The Guggenheim foundation and the rhetoric of cultural planning in Vilnius

The fact that a Guggenheim museum is being planned in Vilnius is indicative of the conviction that cultural “de-provincialization” can only be achieved by taking part in global projects. Skaidra Trilupaityte describes how Frank Gehry’s “architectural miracle” in the former backwater of Bilbao marked the start of the Guggenheim Foundation’s policy of expansion that today has cities around the world queuing up to pay the Guggenheim license fee. Meanwhile, writes Trilupaityte, city planners ignore that the cultural needs of the local population are quite different from those of business and the tourist industry. Vilnius is not Bilbao!

bob dylan

Christopher Ricks, professor of humanities at Boston University and professor of poetry at Oxford University, is famous for his close readings of Milton, Keats, and Eliot, and also for his passion for the music of Bob Dylan. This culminated in his book Dylan’s “Visions of Sin” (2003), an analysis of Dylan’s lyrics that had some critics grumble that Ricks could talk one into believing that even a phone book is poetry. Ieva Lesinska, editor of Rigas Laiks, decided to find out for herself.

Hungary’s entry into the Schengen Zone in December 2007, along with eight other countries, brought a further relaxation of historical borders. While many communities have benefited, the process has not been without its absurdities, writes Gábor Miklósi.

While Nietzsche was an enemy of populism and egalitarianism, he was also an enthusiastic supporter of the struggle for liberty; his perfunctory endorsement of existing institutions sits alongside a proto-politics of drives and intensities. A Nietzschean politics is less a critique of political events so much as a diagnosis of the forces and tendencies driving them – and therein lies its liberalism, writes Béla Egyed.

The concept of psycho-trauma has gained widespread currency in poststructuralist literary theory. Yet what might be sign of hope for a more interdisciplinary approach to psycho-trauma on closer inspection turns out to be ambiguous, according Harald Weilnböck. Literary theory, he writes, often distorts what psycho-trauma means in clinical terms and, while gaining interdisciplinary cachet, repeats patterns of self-protection and transference. In the third and final instalment of this long essay, the author draws some troubling conclusions from Dr Goodheart’s excusrsus into poststructuralist trauma theory. Could it be that the poststructuralist interest in ensuring that “the trauma remains inaccessible to memory” is affiliated to institutional structures of power, control, and exclusion?

secularization atheism heaven

Europe is the exception to the global de-secularization of politics; at the same time, theoretical interest in theological issues has been rising in Europe over the past fifteen years. Placing Habermas’s “soft naturalism” against the “militant atheism” of Michel Onfray and Richard Dawkins, and borrowing Diderot’s concept of matérialisme enchanté, Sven-Eric Liedman warns against trivializing life’s wonders, be they of a technical nature or beyond our present conception.

The concept of psycho-trauma has gained widespread currency in literary theory in recent years. Yet what might be sign of hope for a more interdisciplinary approach to psycho-trauma on closer inspection turns out to be ambiguous, according Harald Weilnböck. Literary theory, he writes, often distorts what psycho-trauma means in clinical terms and, while gaining interdisciplinary cachet, repeats patterns of self-protection and transference. In part two of this long essay, the fictional Dr Goodheart is confronted with an example of “trauma-therapy bashing” that makes him suspect that the humanities’ take on trauma is actually more than just innocuous nonsense: perhaps it’s even harmful.

The deep slumber of decided opinions

Rowan Williams and the Sharia controversy

When Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, suggested that the British public consider “some accommodation” to Islamic law, and that such an accommodation ultimately was “unavoidable”, the response was one of outrage. Yet in most cases, Williams’s words were wildly misinterpreted, writes Stephen Jones. When even the most progressive writers about Islam do not denounce the concept of Sharia, would it not be more productive to ask how a symbol that stands for all that is good comes to be used to justify oppression? Could it be that unwillingness to countenance references to the Sharia betrays a reluctance to examine the ethical and moral bases of legal norms in the West?

As the British tax and customs office loses 25 million confidential records in the post, the programme to introduce a centralized National Health Service database slouches on, only delayed by a classically wasteful Private Finance Initiative project. Total data transparency may be good for corporations and security obsessed governments, but what does it mean for the recipients of “joined-up care”?, asks Damian Abbott.

The concept of psycho-trauma has gained widespread currency in literary theory in recent years. Yet what might be sign of hope for a more interdisciplinary approach to psycho-trauma on closer inspection turns out to be ambiguous, according Harald Weilnböck. Literary theory, he writes, often distorts what psycho-trauma means in clinical terms and, while gaining interdisciplinary cachet, repeats patterns of self-protection and transference. In the first instalment of this long and thought-provoking essay, the fictional Dr Goodheart puzzles over Manfred Weinberg’s assertion that “trauma must remain inaccessible to memory”. Such statements contradict Dr Goodheart’s clinical experience that enabling patients to access their memory is essential to successful therapy. Reading Elisabeth Bronfen’s essay on Hitchcock’s Marnie, Dr Goodheart’s consternation grows. Bronfen, he suspects, romanticises psycho-trauma in order to provoke the given gender order and, in linking trauma with pleasure, implicitly licences the acting out of destructive patterns of interaction.

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