Between the 6th February and the 13th March 2017, CCCB hosted a debate series which analysed the perception of Europe as a both conceptually and demographically ageing entity and asked where we should look for new ideas.
Europe, it is often said, is a tired continent. Lacking inspiration, it can seem to be incapable of responding to contemporary threats, with challenges such as shrivelling welfare states, the return of authoritarianism and xenophobia growing and support for core values like solidarity, justice and respect for human rights apparently fading. A continent which once produced great utopias now seems unable to even imagine a promise for the future.
This perception of a lethargic, old Europe which is short on ideas is strengthened by demographic projections of an ageing population, with the elderly often being blamed for the continent’s conservative turn. Yet, wasn’t precisely these elderly individuals who forged the European dream? Weren’t they the protagonists of the great struggles for our social and labour rights, the ones who believed in the modern promises of peace, welfare and democracy? With their dreams fading, what lessons from the past might hold the keys for building new utopias? Where does Europe’s heart beat today and where are its new vanguards?
This series sought to give voice to those who promote other narratives, remember other histories and decentralise a territory which has become unrecognisable. Will other Europes, those residing in the continent’s geographic, political and symbolic margins, be the ones to propose new utopias and to breathe new life into the old continent?
The CCCB wishes to dedicate this edition of the Barcelona Debate to the memory of Zygmunt Bauman, inspirational defender of the unfinished European adventure.
On the 6th February 2017, CCCB inaugurated the Old Europe, New Utopias series of discussions with a lecture by one of Romania’s most celebrated writers, Mircea Cărtărescu.
Please note that a Catalan introduction preceeds this discussion, which itself starts at 11 minutes, 4 seconds.
In his poetry, novels and essays, Mircea Cărtărescu portrays the diversity of contemporary European life, going beyond the idea of the continent as a project or territory with borders and limits. For Cărtărescu, Europe’s meaning lies in the works of Kafka, Proust, Grass and Cervantes.
The European project is not Europe. It goes beyond that, in both space and time. Many authors have sought to define its limits, to distinguish between the European continent and the Orient, the New World or the Global South. These categories are even applied within Europe, to identify Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean south or the EU’s new member states. However, according to Mircea Cărtărescu, these aspects do not capture what Europe means for the world or the sense of the diverse Europes which reside in dreams and memories, reality and fantasy.
Mircea Cartarescu is a Romanian poet, novelist, journalist and literary critic
Vicenç Villatoro is a writer and journalist and the current director-general of the CCCB
On the 13th February, CCCB hosted Srećko Horvat for a discussion about Europe’s potential futures.
Please note that a Catalan introduction preceeds this discussion, which itself starts at 5 minutes, 26 seconds.
Europe is on the verge of a tectonic shift. Where does it go from here? Will its future resemble the horrors of its past or can a renewed utopian vision light the way forward? In this lecture, writer and political activist Srećko Horvat offers us a trip through Europe’s possible futures.
Only a year ago, most people believed that Brexit wouldn’t happen and that there was no chance that Donald Trump would become President of the United States. Today, this is our reality. What if we are are similarly in denial as regards the collapse of the European Union?
Seen together, the deepening euro crisis, the events surrounding migration to Europe, the rise of the extreme right, terrorist attacks throughout the continent and events such as the Italian referendum suggest that Europe is on the verge of a tectonic shift.
Join Croatian philosopher and activist Srećko Horvat as he offers a roller-coaster ride through Europe’s possible futures.
Srećko Horvat is a Croatian philosopher, author and political activist
Antonio Monegal is a professor of literary theory and comparative literature at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University
The following discussions took place in French or Spanish. To access a full-length recording of one of the discussions, click on its title and you will be taken to the CCCB’s website.
with Pedro Olalla
with Julia Cagé
with Hakan Günday