Eighth Annual Conference: Plenary Panels

Panel 1

Panel 1: “Spatial Implications of Europeanisation”

Our first panel was chaired by Dr Isabelle Hertner, a lecturer in German and European Politics and Society at the University of Birmingham and the deputy director of the Institute for German Studies. This first panel also ended up being our ‘UK’ panel with all of our presenters studying within the UK. Anneliese Hatton from our own University of Birmingham began the session with her paper entitled “Portugal, Head of Europe” – Questions Surrounding the Adoption of a European Identity by Portugal. Next was Benjamin Duke from Keele University and his paper Education, Learning and Teaching, an Interdisciplinary Europeanization Neo-Trokia: Facilitating Cross Border and Transport Aspects of Travelling Europe. The panel closed with A Bourdieusian Analysis of the EU’s “Southern” Border presented by Nottingham Trent University’s Amy Manktelow, for whom our GCfE conference was the first of an ambitious seven conference season. This collection of fascinating papers asked us to rethink the borders and roles of EU and European nations.

Panel 2

Panel 2: “(Re-) Writing Europe”

Dr Nick Martin, the Graduate Centre for Europe’s own academic director, chaired this second panel that approached our conference theme through travel diaries. Korbinian Erdmann from the University of Cologne, our thesis slam champion, presented a paper that discussed the impact of stereotypes on trips to Carniola in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Aleksandra Ziober from the University of Wroclaw had several fascinating insights to share from the travel diaries of Lithuanian Nobles in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The panel offered insight into what early tourists thought to record and how stereotypes, often influenced by religion more than nationalism, altered a travellers perception of the countries they were visiting. An insightful Q+A session at the end considered the future of the modern travel diary disseminated today across social media, blogs, and from time to time the traditional paper journal.

Panel 3

Panel 3: “Europe on the Move”

Dr Katherine Tonkiss from the University of Birmingham chaired the opening panel on the second day of the conference. Nora Siklodi (Royal Holloway, University of London/University of Portsmouth) paper considered mobility rights and their impact on identity across the EU. Her paper asked us to consider what it meant to be an EU citizen, particularly on a personal level. For Nora EU citizenship is a temporary sense of identity that varies from country to country. Giuseppe Sofo (University of Avignon/Sapienza University of Rome) motivated the discussion session with his approach to humanities in movement which involved re-defining the terms we use to discuss migration and migrants. Giuseppe’s paper closed with a moving plea for new ways of being human and new paths to coexistence. Finally, Marek Liszka (Jagiellonian University, Cracow) closed the panel with a case study of the Polish immigrants seven stage journey from Orava to the USA.

Panel 4

Panel 4: “European Sites of Memory”

This stimulating fourth panel was chaired by a guest academic flown in from across the pond, Professor Shelly Hornstein from York University, Toronto. Ievgeniia Sarapina (National Academy of Managerial Staff of Culture and Arts, Kyiv) presented ‘Travelling as Mnemonic Adventure in Ukraine’ discussing memory heterotopias, both social and memorial functions. Her paper shed light on the idea of tourism as an activity of remembrance. Oriol López-Badell (University of Barcelona Solidarity Foundation) presented his research on the Memoria Bcn project which endeavours to recover historical sites and the locations of historical events. More about this project can be found here: www.memoriabcn.cat. This panel concluded with a very welcome presentation by one of the University of Birmingham’s readers in Environmental Humanities, Dr Frank Uekötter. Frank’s paper made us pause and consider it is not just people who travel as we considered the slaughterhouse as a site of memory. This fascinating presentation argues that the slaughterhouse captures a universal experience, particularly in Chicago, and is therefore does in fact represent a site of memory.

For those particularly interested in the project outlined by Oriol in his presentation you can find here the program for the upcoming first symposium organized by the European Memories Observatory, a new network promoted by the University of Barcelona with partners from different European countries: Memory and Power Barcelona

Panel 5

Panel 5: “Europe as a Tourist Destination”

Our final plenary panel led our travels to tourism. Dr Stephen Forcer, lecturer in French Studies at the University of Birmingham, chaired this last panel. Natalia Palich, our second presenter hailing from Jagiellonian University intertwined several panel themes from borders and space to literary journeys. Her research looks at notions of tourism in Czech Contemporary Literature. Natalia’s research outlined the smaller perception of space held by most Czech citizens travelling within their own borders. However, with new poetics there are new topics and an outreach to globalised concerns as Czech writers share their new personal experiences having transgressed European boarders. Simona Martini from the University of Milan shared Litfiba’s musical journey throughout Europe. Her presentation highlighted how words and song can connect cultures across the globe. Federica Poletti from the London School of Economics and Political Science used the European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) accolade to draw attention to the importance of sustainable tourism. The primary concern with the ECoC designation is whether a country can maintain the benefits of environmental and economic tourism beyond the one year in which they hold this title.