Press Release

Europa21: Are We Really the Best?

Robert Bosch Stiftung | February 2018
  • International Thinkers and Poets in constructive debate / Artist Duo Various & Gold Broaden the Conceptual Space
  • From March 15 to March 18 the Leipzig Book Fair and the Robert Bosch Stiftung will once again open up a space for thinking tomorrow’s society with their programme Europa21, back now for the third time. Titled “Are we really the best?” this year’s curator Mohamed Amjahid brings together international guests from civil society, culture, science, and the media. Guests are invited to reflect on Europe’s past, discuss the present and develop ideas for the future of the continent. Visitors to the Leipzig Book Fair can choose from six panel discussions at “Café Europa” or join the Duel on Europe at the Zeitgeschichtliches Forum on Friday evening. For the first time an artist twosome enters the Thinking Space. Duo Various & Gould will captivate the people of Leipzig and visitors to the fair with their poster series Identikits, which asks them to reflect on identity and cliché.


Leipzig, February 5, 2018 – “How could we develop visions of a European future characterized by solidarity and inclusiveness without talking about the different perception of certain sensitive historical events?” is one of the questions posed by Mohamed Amjahid. “Europa21 therefore aims for an exchange free from political constraints, free from national egotisms, and especially free from European superciliousness. To this end a perspective from outside is all-important. Accordingly, numerous international guests with vastly different conceptions of Europe will join and inform the discussions.

We, the Wealthy?
Who has a Claim to Europe’s Wealth?

Europe often defines itself by its riches, but there are considerable gaps between the levels of wealth of different European countries. Within Europe the fear that one might lose certain privileges confronts the economic advance of poorer countries. The Café Europa series, starts on Thursday at 12.00 with the panel discussion “We, the Wealthy? Or: Who has a Claim to Europe’s Wealth?” Icelandic author, politician and comedian Jón Gnarr will discuss the question of responsibility within the world’s largest economic region alongside journalist Mely Kiyak and German lobbyist for the future Wolfgang Gründinger.

We, the Civilized?
What, after all, is European Civilization?

The French author and filmmaker Rokhaya Diallo, Syrian-Swedish poet Ghayath Almadhoun and Diana Kinnert, political scientist and member of the CDU debate the certainty many Europeans feel, that they have developed the best civilization on earth. But shouldn’t Europe’s canon of knowledge be added to, and in what way? That’s the question we’ll be tackling during the second panel “We, the Civilized? Or: What, after all, IS European Civilization?” at Café Europa on Thursday at 13.00.

We, the Identiots?
Temptation or Solution – Europe, its Regions, and the Traps of Nationalism.

“A Europe of Regions” is a well-beloved phrase in Brussels. But how does the balancing act between European unity and the (peaceful) pursuit of local identities really work? And what influence would a trend towards regionalization have on the European project? What is the role of this – sometimes obsessive – pursuit of “securing one’s own identity”? The question “We, the Identiots? Or: Temptation or Solution – Europe, its Regions, and the Traps of Nationalism.” is discussed on Friday at 12.00 by the Polish journalist Alexandra Rybińska, Stefan Schlegel (Operation Libero) from Switzerland and with EU expert Elisa Simantke and German journalist Matthias Meisner. The discussion can be followed on Inforadio (rbb) in the slot “Das Forum” (Sunday, March 25, 11.00) and then as a podcast on the station’s homepage (a change of broadcasting time is possible).

We, Partners and Friends?
How an Enlarged Europe Sees its own Borders.

During the fourth panel, partners, friends and ex-members of the EU club talk about their views on the Union. How do they envision a future cooperation which seeks to deal with global challenges such as peacekeeping, ecology, or migration? Do its neighbours even want to cooperate with the EU? Answers will be forthcoming from the Norwegian author Åsne Seierstad, Ukrainian cultural activist Kataryna Mishchenko and German journalist Doris Akrap. The panel discussion “We, Partners and Friends? Or: How an Enlarged Europe Sees its own Borders.” will be held at Café Europa on Friday at 13.00.

We, in an Age of Post-Solidarity?
Where the Limits of European Solidarity are to be Found.

“Europe” has been associated with the term “Union” for over two decades now. But Brexit, the Euro crisis, and the vexed question of migration have raised the questions: Does European solidarity have its limits? And if it does, can they be agreed upon politically? Do different Europeans mean one and the same thing when they talk about solidarity? The Hungarian philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás, Greek author Danae Sioziou and the German journalist Robin Alexander contemplate these questions in the panel discussion “We, in an Age of Post-Solidarity? Or: Where the Limits of European Solidarity are to be Found.” on Saturday at 13.00.

We, Conscious of History?
Wasn’t There Something a Hundred Years ago?

Doesn’t historical amnesia exclude responsible and inclusive politics in the present? How does Europe think about the past? Why are there so many difficulties about remembering? “We, Conscious of History, or: Wasn’t There Something a Hundred Years ago?” is the sixth panel discussion, on Saturday at 16.00. This conclusion of the series brings together curators Adam Szymczyk from Poland and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung from Cameroon with the Georgian author Nino Haratischwili and German journalist Yassin Musharbash.

A New Format: European Duels – Authors in Battle

Is there actually one German vision for Europe’s future, one Polish vision, one French vision only? Representatives of various political camps in Europe’s societies all have an influence in determining the direction the continent should take, be it directly through the institutions of the European Union or by their influence on their countries’ interior politics. What are the rival scenarios here? Can they be understood specifically – and perhaps more profoundly – from various national perspectives, and thus related to their European context? During the “European Duels” at the Zeitgeschichtliches Forum, on Friday evening at 19.30, authors – sometimes from the same country – offer different visions of Europe’s future. The audience can vote on which arguments seem more convincing. Afterwards, the authors will join a general discussion, thought-provoking and, hopefully constructive, on the Europe of tomorrow. The first duel will bring together the curator Adam Szymczyk and journalist Alexandra Rybińska, both from Poland, while two German authors face-off in the second duel: Margarete Stokowski and Zana Ramadani, born in Poland and Macedonia respectively. The series will be moderated this year by Jenny Friedrich-Freksa, Harald Asel, Ebru Taşdemir and Mohamed Amjahid.

Identikits: An Art Project in Public Space

The Berlin artist duo Various & Gould revives its 2008 poster series Identikits for Europa21. “Identities are highly complex, clichés operate reductively”, Mohamed Amjahid says. “This goes as well for the debates on Europe, because Europe’s identity is complex, but our way of talking about it is exceedingly cliché-ridden.” This contradiction is embodied in the duo’s poster series Identikit. Various & Gould cut the faces of well-known and unknown persons into horizontal strips and gloss them with catchwords. “The poster pictures, at first glance irritating, which accompany the Europa21 debates, are intended to stimulate thought throughout the city’s public spaces and within the fair”, says the curator.

 

Curator, Europa21_2018

Mohamed Amjahid is an editor in the politics department of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. As a reporter he travels all over Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. His first book “Unter Weißen. Was es heißt, privilegiert zu sein” (“Among Whites. What it Means to be Privileged”) was released in 2017.

Press contact

Ruth Justen
Press
Europa21. Thinking tomorrow’s society
Tel+49 174 7831205
e-mail to Ruth Justen
Julia Lücke
Press/PR
Leipzig Book Fair
Tel+49 341 678-6555
e-mail to Julia Lücke
Chiara Josten
Communications
Robert Bosch Stiftung
Heidehofstraße 31
70184 Stuttgart
Tel+49 711 46084-750
e-mail to Chiara Josten
Michael Herm
Communications
Robert Bosch Stiftung
Heidehofstraße 31
70184 Stuttgart
Tel+49 711 46084-290
e-mail to Michael Herm