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Eurozine Review
This revolutionary moment
Index looks into the future of journalism; Transit keeps alive the memory of the
Maidan; in Syn og Segn, climate optimist Kristin Halvorsen calls for a global price
tag on pollution; Kulturos barai talks to urban ecologist Warren Karlenzig; Rigas
Laiks congratulates Reykjavik's first anarchist mayor; Merkur discusses photography
and the definition of artistic value; La Revue nouvelle braces itself for more
European political deadlock; Kritiikki profiles Russian émigré author Sergei
Dovlatov; and Nova Istra remembers the Croatian émigré poet Viktor Vida.
Index on Censorship 3/2014
In the latest issue of Index (UK), devoted to the future of
journalism, editor Rachael Jolley asks whether a world in
which anyone were able to "program a whole set of drone
cameras to go and film a riot, a rally or a refugee camp"
would be one in which the public knew more.
"The reality of exciting new technology is that it is coming to the market at a
time when the public appears to value journalists less, and can turn to Twitter
or Facebook or citizen journalists to find out what's going on in the world.
Journalists; who needs them when we can find out so much for ourselves?"
However, "when it comes to recognizing a story, then the good old reporter's
nose comes in handy." Interviewing, research and legal knowledge "are the
skills that give journalists the tools to find out what others would rather they
didn't. And that skill package is always going to be vital", whatever the
technological changes ahead.
The fifth estate: Digital economy expert Ian Hargreaves is comfortable with
"the emergence of a fifth estate, the online−era news, comment and
information environment of which the bruised and battered fourth estate is a
non−dominant component". But how "to ensure that the fifth estate does an
even better job than its predecessor in holding the powerful to account"?
"For this fifth estate to thrive, the core priority is freedom of expression for
everyone, not only journalists. It follows that other, even very important,
rights, like privacy and data protection, should be subordinate."
For more on the networked public space, see the Eurozine focal point
Changing media −− Media in change.
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Source material? The German copyright on Mein Kampf expires in 2015,
renewing debate on whether it should be reprinted, or even read. Sascha
Feuchert, expert in Holocaust literature and vice president of German PEN,
believes an academic version is indispensible. Charlotte Knobloch, former vice
president of the World Jewish Congress, disagrees:
"I am firmly of the conviction that Mein Kampf should never again be legal
and it should not be made publicly available, in any shape or form, in Germany
or anywhere else in the world. [...] It is one of the most offensive anti−Semitic
diatribes that has ever been written. It is a dangerous book that unleashed
unspeakable devastation."
The full table of contents of Index on Censorship 3/2014
Transit 45 (2014)
The latest issue of Transit (Austria) offers sophisticated,
in−depth analysis of the Maidan in Ukraine drawn from
numerous sources, including the "Ukraine: Thinking together"
conference in Kyiv in May 2014. The editors write:
"Independence fell to Ukraine by chance in 1991, it was not contested. That
first happened on the Maidan −− which marked the delayed birth of a nation.
At the moment of the European Union's deepest crisis, we in the West became
witnesses of a movement on the periphery that demanded values we ourselves
had lost sight of."
One of the central aims of the issue is "to sustain the memory of the Maidan
−− before the terror of the war completely overwrites the energy and
fascination of this revolutionary moment (which, by the way, it is intended to
do)." Research continues on these "few months, during which an epoch
approached its end, and that will, perhaps, soon strike us as the happy
intermezzo between two cold wars."
Maidan time: Timothy Snyder explains why the futures of Europe and
Ukraine are inseparable. "Throughout the centuries, the history of Ukraine has
revealed the turning points in the history of Europe. This seems still to be true
today." Executive editor of Krytyka Oksana Forostyna describes first−hand the
country's attempt to emerge from the shadow of Russian paternalism and a
neo−feudal system.
Guest editor Tatiana Zhurzhenko sees borderlands become bloodlands in
eastern Ukraine, while Mykola Riabchuk insists that "the opportunity remains
for the experience of solidarity and the civil spirit of the Maidan to contribute
to the integration of Ukrainian society −− beyond all regional and
ethno−linguistic fractures." Further articles include Sergii Leshchenko's
typology of oligarchs; Anton Shekhovtsov's portrait of the far−right political
party Svoboda; Tanya Richardson on the aftermath of the Maidan in Odessa.
Photo essay: Emine Ziyatdinova portrays the efforts of Crimean Tatars to
adapt their everyday lives to the new situation in Crimea.
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The full table of contents of Transit 45 (2014)
Syn og Segn 3/2014
The People's Climate March hit the streets of New York at
the end of September, the largest protest of its kind to date,
with many parallel marches organized worldwide. All took
place two days ahead of the United Nations climate
conference in NYC. The issue of climate change is starting
to mobilize society in new ways, says "climate optimist"
Kristin Halvorsen, director of the Center for International
Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, in an interview in Syn og Segn
As former Norwegian finance minister, Halvoresen focuses on the financial
sector in particular: "More people within banking and finance see climate
change as a reality, and this means that it will influence investments, insurance
and where money goes. This tendency is much stronger today than it was five
years ago."
"The reason coal is cheap and the use of coal is increasing, is that we haven't
set a global price tag on what it should cost to pollute the environment. Global
engagement in this matter would be a good instrument for decreasing
emissions." Summing up the current state of climate science, Halvorsen
concludes, "We now know more than enough for the leading politicians to
See also Sverker Sörlin's "The changing nature of environmental expertise".
The outside world: A survey made in 2002 showed that two per cent of
Norway's population (70,000 people) has no close friends. One of three writers
in a focus on loneliness −− aware that solitude is still taboo, he wishes to
remain anonymous −− gives a personal account about how mental illness,
alcohol abuse and isolation formed a vicious cycle:
"After I was out of psychiatric hospital, I went home to my parents and chose
to go into an inner exile, where life consisted of reading through the night,
sleeping through the day and sitting in front of the TV in the evenings. I
couldn't and didn't want to meet the outside world, and I wanted to live life this
way until the day I died."
As the focus makes clear, it is often the shame of being alone that keeps people
from seeking help or talking about their problems.
The full table of contents of Syn og Segn 3/2014
Kulturos barai 9/2014
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Kulturos barai (Lithuania) introduces US expert in urban
sustainability and resilience Warren Karlenzig. In interview
with Almantas Samalavicius, he explains his method for
ranking cities based on their level of sustainability −− the
results for 50 cities in the US were published in Karlenzig's
2007 book How Green is Your City? −− and describes a
recent Chinese−US project to create software for managing
the 663 largest cities in China.
"Starting in 2014, with the initial implementation of the key performance
indicator software, the initiative has short−term potential to directly impact
seven to eight hundred million people", says Karlenzig. "This may be critical
to instituting a more effective management performance matrix for climate
change and other pressing challenges −− including dangerous air and water
quality −− as China's urban population grows to more than one billion by
Central to Karlenzig's vision of the future is the "sharing economy", which is
based on "the bottom−up facilitation of daily functions (that happen to be more
sustainable) through countless apps being used by citizens, the private sector
and government [...] Like virtual beehives, the sharing economy reduces
ownership in the name of collective economies, without all the cult−like
entrapments of the commune."
Also: US−based scholar of language and literature Giedrius Subacius on the
Lithuanian diaspora.
The full table of contents of Kulturos barai 9/2014
Rigas Laiks 9/2014
In Rigas Laiks (Latvia), Konstantin Seibt describes how in
2010 the citizens of Reykjavik, for decades a bastion of
conservatism, elected a professional comic as mayor. Jon
Gnarr was a founding member and leader of the
newly−formed anarchist−surrealist Best Party, an unlikely
collection of rock stars and former punks. The Icelandic
prime minster described the result as "shocking".
The Best Party grew out of a TV sketch Gnarr had devised, featuring a slippery
politician, and the party's election platform consisted of a string of outlandish
promises. According to campaign manager Helga Helgadottir: "Our campaign
strategy was to offer an alternative world".
In public debates, Gnarr told jokes instead of arguing with other politicians.
When asked difficult questions, he admitted that he didn't have a clue. Having
been hit hard by the financial crash of 2008, people appreciated his humour
and honesty. The more outrageous the promises, the more the party's
popularity rating surged. Gnarr retired from politics after his first term in
office, but the experiment seems to have been a success. Seibt cites social
democrat politician Hjalmar Sveinsson:
"Initially we thought that [the coalition] would last a year at the most. But
everything went amazingly smoothly. They had nice ideas: human rights,
politics as a work of art and so on. But you have to be a master of politics as a
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craft too. [The anarchists] were a very weak partner [...] They didn't argue at
all! We were the ones who tussled with the opposition."
600 cities, not 200 countries: Arnis Ritups speaks to Swedish economist Kjell
Nordström, who is convinced that cities and not countries will soon determine
most people's loyalties.
The full table of contents of Rigas Laiks 9/2014
Merkur 10/2014
"The relation between photography and art is more interesting
and complicated than the question as to whether photography
can be art at all, as debated by juries at the Paris Salon in the
mid−nineteenth century", writes Jan von Brevern in an article
in Merkur (Germany).
"It was not because photography promised to be such a great artistic medium
that it came to be considered art, but because art dissolved its ties to individual
media in the twentieth century." Although it still matters which media are used
in a work of art, and how they are used, they no longer play any role in
determining its status as art.
What von Brevern finds indefensible is how art historians profit from
reinforcing decisions made by art markets and art institutions about the value
of art. He cites Michael Fried's book Why Photography Matters as Art as
Never Before as an example. While the author profits, such works leave losers
in their wake:
"The public, which is downgraded to a mere claque; the discipline of art
history, which offers itself as a willing service provider; and, perhaps worst of
all, the work of art itself, which ultimately seems to distinguish itself solely
through its own lack of resistance to being labelled."
The first media war: Bernd Hüppauf sees continuities between the use of
photography in WWI and contemporary digital images created by drones; and
between the 29 billion letters sent during WWI and today's digital networks.
The full table of contents of Merkur 10/2014
La Revue nouvelle 9−10/2014
The path of "never−ending compromise" that traditional
political parties have tended to follow has run out of ground,
comments political scientist Vincent de Coorebyter in La
Revue nouvelle (Belgium). "Big electoral fractions
representing stable ideological pillars no longer exist. It is
barely possible to find anyone who is socialist through and
through, let alone positions that unite anti−capitalism,
anti−monarchism and anti−clericalism."
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These are the perfect conditions for the emergence of radical nationalist
parties. Or indeed opportunists −− here Coorebyter has Greece's Syriza in his
sights, but also the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. "A durable balance of
forces has been installed that, with every reform, encounters a crowd of
resistance movements leading to inertia", concludes Coorebyter.
Better together? Édouard Notte looks at the implication of the Scottish
referendum for European politics. Will the EU ever allow regions in larger
European states to influence the creation of European legislation and
supranational policy? Notte considers Robert Cooper's argument comparing
the European crisis to the fall of Habsburg monarchy:
"Successful as the EU has been in creating an environment in which small
states can live comfortably, the temptation for Flanders, Scotland, Catalonia
and no doubt many others to enjoy the luxury of their own state may become a
pattern of the future. This should not be a surprise, since for most purposes
small states are better than big ones: more intimate, more cohesive, closer to
the citizen. Only two things make big states desirable: the security of a big
army and the prosperity of a big market."
The full table of contents of La Revue nouvelle 9−10/2014
Kritiikki X (2014)
Contributors to Kritiikki, the biannual literary supplement of
Nuori Voima (Finland), reflect on how power and dissidence
shaped the lives and works of writers dealing with the
authoritarian regimes of eastern Europe. Essayist and poet
Vladimir Yermakov writes on the Russian émigré novelist
Sergei Dovlatov (1941−1990), who, all but invisible in his
home country, became a mythical figure among the Russian
diaspora of New York:
"His prose style is characterized by fabulism, ease, syntactical completeness.
His form shows traces of marginal types of folklore, of anecdotes and bylinas.
He used his stylistic palette to such perfection that eye witnesses of events
described by him began to doubt their own memories. The story of novelist
Andrei Bitov giving poet Andrei Voznesensky a bashing was one that neither
was able to refute, although they both swore nothing of the kind had ever
No time to think: The novelist György Dragomán hails from Transylvania
and lives in Budapest, where he writes in his mother tongue of Hungarian. In
interview with Sonja Pyykkö, he discusses the inspiration for his novel The
White King, which draws on the author's experience of growing up in a
totalitarian state. It becomes apparent that the novel also has a contemporary
"The way our society functions these days doesn't encourage us to stop and
think. In the frenzy of doing things, we forget to think. That's why there isn't
time to think in The White King either."
Also: A review of Steffen Kverneland's graphic biography of Norway's
greatest painter, entitled Munch; and Ville Ropponen explores affinities
between Osip Mandelstam's relationship to Crimea and that of Kafka to Prague
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or Joyce to Dublin.
The full table of contents of Kritiikki X (2014)
Nova Istra 1−2/2014
Nova Istra (Croatia) reports on its precarious situation. The
well−established literary and cultural journal is endangered
following the Croatian ministry of culture's refusal in 2012 to
grant it the funding that, until then, amounted to two thirds of
the journal's annual budget.
Exile: Zeljka Lovrencic recalls the life and work of Viktor Vida, whose poetry
follows the bohemian tradition of Tin Ujevic (1891−1955). Born in Boka, now
part of Montenegro, in 1913, Vida fled Croatia in 1942 after coming under the
suspicion of nationalist colleagues. He committed suicide in Buenos Aires in
1960, after 18 years of exile.
"Vida was unlike many émigrés, who despite their suffering accepted their
destiny. He remained isolated because he was unable to feel at home in any
environment", writes Lovrencic. Caught between the Ustase and Partisans, but
identifying with neither, Vida's life reflects a political schism still present in
twenty−first century Croatia.
Atrocity: Sanja Knezevic discusses postmodern genocide in the form of the
mass rape that took place in the early 1990s in Croatia and Bosnia. In order to
drive the significance of these war crimes home, Knezevic quotes American
feminist Catharine MacKinnon: "In war, some women who are raped do not
know which side their rapists are on. In genocide, the identity of the
perpetrator is essential. The woman (and by extension, her group) must know
not only that the atrocity occurred, but who was responsible."
Knezevic examines reasons why victims of rape in camps in Vukovar are
neglected by society. Despite their courage to testify openly about their
tragedy, these women are neither perceived as civilian victims of war crimes
nor are they provided with reparations.
The full table of contents of Nova Istra 1−2/2014
Published 2014−10−15
Original in English
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