On Friday, October 19, the Center for the Study of Europe hosted a luncheon discussion and afternoon seminar on “NATO’s European Allies” with Norwegian political scientist Janne Haaland Matlary and her colleague Magnus Petersson. Matlary, who served as Norway’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs from 1997 to 2000, is Professor of International Politics at the University of Oslo. She has published widely in the field of European security policy, and is currently working on the political implications of asymmetric warfare in NATO. Petersson is Senior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies and former Research Fellow, Director of Studies, and Head of Research and Development at the Swedish National Defence College. He has published several books and articles on Scandinavian security issues.
Matlary and Petersson’s talks centered around the subject of their co-edited books NATO: The Power of Partnerships, in which they look at NATO’s different kinds of partnerships systematically, both from NATO’s perspective and that of partners, and NATO’s European Allies: Military Capability and Political Will, in which they take up the question of “burden sharing.” They focused in particular on the role of Europe, given its current situation of economic austerity and postmodern political values, in regional and global security and defence.
The Center for the Study of Europe co-sponsored the recent visit of influential geographer and theorist David Harvey to Boston University. Harvey delivered the Annual Humanities Lecture on “The Urbanization of Anti-Capitalist Struggle” on Thursday, October 18, and hosted an “open seminar” for faculty and graduate students on Friday, October 19.
In his lecture, Harvey took up the three major themes he has covered in his work: namely, the dynamics of capital accumulation, urbanization, and anti-capitalist struggles. According to Harvey, the city is central to our understanding of how capital works today. The expansion and therefore surpluses of capital are an essential part of the capitalist system, and cities are the centers of global capital surplus production and absorption. Visit the Topograph Blog for a lengthier summary of the lecture by researcher Helen Pallett.
The subject of Harvey’s Friday seminar was Reading Marx’s Capital, Volume II.
Yesterday afternoon, the Center for the Study of Europe, in cooperation with the Department of Political Science, hosted a discussion with Marius Busemeyer from the University of Konstanz in Germany. In his talk, entitled “Skills and Inequality: Partisan Politics, Economic Coordination & Training Regimes in Western Welfare States,” Busemeyer made the case for integration of an analysis of education and training systems into comparative welfare state research. He outlined some of the connections between education and other parts of the welfare state and argued that neglecting these connections has prevented us from developing a deeper understanding of the driving forces of welfare state reforms, socio-economic inequality as well as citizens’ perceptions of and attitudes towards the welfare state. Notably, he demonstrated how the education and training system in different welfare states, in particular, the importance of vocational education and training relative to academic education, as well as variations in public and private sources of financing, affect not only the distribution of income and wealth in the political economy but citizens’ attitudes toward the welfare state.
On Tuesday, October 9, the Center for the Study of Europe, in cooperation with the Center for International Relations and the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations at Boston University and the Goethe Institut Boston, hosted a presentation by prolific German blogger Kübra Gümüsay, an active member of the Muslim blogosphere and one of the few Muslim members of the German netpolitics community.
Gümüsay, who is of Turkish origin, studied politics at the University of Hamburg and at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. When she began working as a columnist for the German daily newspaper taz in 2010, she was known as the first Hijabi columnist in Germany. Her texts, which have been featured in major national and international newspapers and publications, are mostly about culture, art, feminism, racism, Islamophobia, social blogging and media. In 2010 she co-founded the network Zahnräder (“Gears”) for active, creative and intellectual Muslim entrepreneurs in Germany. In 2011, her blog ein-fremdwoerterbuch.com was nominated for the Grimme Online Award in 2011. Her aim is to build cultural bridges, break down stereotypes and to animate her readers to rethink their values and worldviews. She is currently based in Oxford, UK, where she is working on a book on integration and migration and is founding a global network for social and political bloggers around the world.
In her presentation at the Castle, Gümüsay talked about changes the Internet has brought to social life in Germany, with a focus on the struggles of the Muslim diaspora. Feeling misrepresented in mainstream media, minorities of comparatively weak lobbies, such as Turks, Arabs, Blacks, Muslims and Roma, she said, are increasingly using the Internet to create a space for alternative media. As they speak up, comment on politics, get involved in debates and push their agendas, they influence mainstream media. Gümüsay discussed this process as well as its outcome on the German Muslim identity and on society, in an attempt to provide some answers to these questions: Has the Internet brought us closer together? Or are we now – more than ever – living in parallel worlds?
This event was organized as part of Our Shared Future, a project developed by the British Council with the support of the Carnegie Corporation. It aims to improve the public conversation on Muslim-West relations in the US and Europe.
The Center for the Study of Europe co-sponsored last week’s visit of Bulgaria’s president, Rosen Plevneliev, to Boston University. Plevneliev was on campus for the opening celebration of “The Power of Civil Society: the fate of Jews in Bulgaria during the Holocaust, 1940-1944,” at the Hillel House gallery. The exhibit He was introduced by Boston University president Robert Brown, Hillel’s Director Rabbi Joseph Polak, and the Honorary Consul General of Bulgaria Adam Portnoy. Over 200 people attended the opening celebration, which also featured a performance by Ludo Mlado, a Bulgarian Folk Dancing Troupe, and a reception.
The exhibit, which runs through October 15, demonstrates how the collective voice of the people of Bulgaria
prevented the deportation of its Jewish population. It depicts events that, due to social pressure at the time, have only recently surfaced. When Germany ordered Bulgaria to surrender its Jews, a great outcry emerged from the Bulgarian people, and the country ultimately refused Germany’s demands. Because of the Bulgarian people’s heroism, most of the country’s 50,000 Jews were spared death in Nazi concentration camps.