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Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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Center for the Study of Europe To Launch European Lecture Series

November 8th, 2012

The Center for the Study of Europe has been awarded a grant from the European Union Commission for a public lecture series by European artists, writers, public intellectuals, and ambassadors titled “Getting to Know Europe: The EU Inside Out” (Jan. 2013 to May 2014—75,000 euros). The project, according to the proposal’s author, Elizabeth Amrien, explores the prospects for democratic politics in Europe against the backdrop of the profound transformations taking place on the continent in response to the global financial meltdown and the crisis it has unleashed in the Eurozone. It does so from two vantage points: from the “center,” through a series of debates with European ambassadors, and from the “edges,” through a series of conversations with European artists and writers, intellectuals and activists, and a “European Voices” literary festival. The focus, as the idiom in the project title implies, is on the transformations occurring in the “constitution” of the European Union and its citizenry. The principal investigator on the grant is Center for the Study of Europe Director Vivien Schmidt.

The project, which targets a broad general audience, has four components: 1. “Getting to Know the European Union,” a series of four public debates with European Ambassadors, moderated by the Boston Globe’s editorial page editor, to take place in fall 2013, 2. “European Voices,” a series of eight conversations with prominent European artists and writers, activists and intellectuals, to take place in the spring of 2013 and 2014, 3. “European Voices Festival,” a literary and cultural celebration featuring emerging artists and writers, to take place on or around May 9, 2013, and 4. A revamped “EU for You” project website.

The goal is to launch a longer-term conversation with both “official” and “unofficial” representatives of the European Union around global challenges to democratic ideas and institutions in which the value of the EU as a model for transnational cooperation, regional integration, and cultural coexistence is highlighted. The project’s directors will look also at some of the difficulties Europe is facing in responding to global challenges, brought to light by the “crisis.” Finally, they will explore what is being done, in particular in response to the crisis, to re-animate the idea of Europe and to revitalize democracy in the European context. Their working hypothesis is that Europe’s crisis, however seemingly unremitting, marks not an end, but as the Greek root would imply, a turning point for Europe, and for European democracy.

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