On the 17th September 2020, De Balie hosted a Forum on European Culture debate looking at potential political and economic futures for Europe post-pandemic.
Images for this page courtesy of Friday's for Future Deutschland (CC BY 2.0) and De Balie.
In this debate, two prominent European thinkers – the Italian author, Francesca Melandri, and the British Financial Times journalist, Gideon Rachman – share their thoughts about Europe’s future, contemplating potential economic scenarios post-corona and the chances of Europe’s political union surviving the crises the pandemic calls forth.
This De Balie Forum on European Culture event also looks at the possibilities for fostering a sense of solidarity amongst people in Europe and considers the likelihood of revolutionary new political forces emerging to change Europe for the better.
The title of this debate comes from an open letter which Francesca Melandri penned for The Guardian in March, predicting the impact of the coronavirus in the UK following its imminent arrival.
Francesca Melandri - Novelist & Screenwriter
Francesca Melandri is an Italian author, screenwriter and documentary filmmaker, well-known for both her book, Più alto del mare (Above Sea Level), and for a number of prize-winning documentaries.
Melandri started her career as a screenwriter, writing the scripts for films such as Zoo by Cristina Comencini (1988), Princess Fantaghirò by Lamberto Bava (1991), Cristallo di rocca by Maurizio Zaccaro (1999) and for several episodes of the series, Chiara e gli altri, Nati ieri and Don Matteo.
In 2010, Melandri published her first novel, Eva dorme (Eva Sleeps), which is set in South Tyrol and weaves a tale of family, forgiveness, conflict and the search for truth in a region with a complicated recent history.
Her latest novel, Sangue giusto (2017), continues to probe the grey areas of Italy's past and addresses the consequences of Italy's colonial history in Ethiopia in a way intended to cast a new light on the question of European responsibility for refugees fleeing Africa's many conflict zones.
Gideon Rachman - Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator, Financial Times
Gideon Rachman is the Financial Times's chief foreign affairs commentator and a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics's foreign policy think tank, IDEAS.
After studying history at Cambridge University, Gideon Rachman worked as a reporter for the BBC's World Service and The Sunday Correspondent throughout the mid to late 80s, before joining The Economist in the early 90s. He started out as the The Economist's deputy American editor, later becoming its South-East Asian correspondent and then editor. In 1997, he returned to Europe, formerly, as the paper's Britain editor and, subsequently, as a European correspondent based in Brussels.
Since 2006, Gideon Rachman has worked for the Financial Times, for whom he writes on international affairs, with a particular focus on American foreign policy, the European Union and Asian geopolitics.
Gideon Rachman's journalism has won him recognition in the form of both the Orwell Prize for political journalism (2016) and the European Press Prize Awards' Commentator Award (2016). Alongside his journalistic work, he has also been a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University (1988–89) and at the Nobel Institute in Oslo (2013).
Furthermore, Gideon Rachman is the author of two books about the historical and contemporary global political landscapes, Zero-Sum World and Easternisation - War and Peace in the Asian Century.
Marcia Luyten - Moderator & Writer
Marcia Luyten is a Dutch publicist, author, moderator and journalist.
Marcia Luyten initially studied business studies at the University of Maastricht and then went into journalism after graduating. As a journalist, she worked as a foreign correspondent in eastern Africa for both the NRC Handelsblad (1995-1997) and de Volkskrant (1999-2001). During her time in Africa, she also spent a short period of time working as a Dutch diplomat.
Following her return to the Netherlands, Marcia Luyten took over the moderation of the Dutch weekly discussion programme, Buitenhof, remaining a presenter of the programme from 2012 until 2018.
Since 2008, Marcia Luyten has also written a number of books on both African and Dutch politics. Her latest book, Wit, niet blank* takes a closer look at the everyday lives and aspirations of everyday Africans, while her 2015 publication, Het geluk van Limburg (The Happiness of Limburg), won the 2016 Brussels Prize for its depiction of the rise and fall of the Dutch coal mining industry as told through the eyes of a miner's family.
*Roughly translated as White, Not a White Person, with 'blank' (as used here for 'white person') intended to relate to the usage of 'blank' throughout the apartheid period in South Africa as a term used to distinguish people of white European heritage and to suggest racial superiority.
The Forum on European Culture is a biennial four-day festival that brings together international artists, thinkers and members of the public to imagine a better future for Europe. This year the festival was titled We, the People and asked: Who are the Europeans? Is there more that binds us together than keeps us apart?
This long weekend of European culture was live streamed in its entirety this time around, turning it into a truly international event and ensuring that there are a lot of events that you can still enjoy online.
From Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th September, the festival presented more than 25 different events and hosted over 100 Dutch and international guests, both online and offline, including the chefs, Joris Bijendijk and Elena Arzak, the political activist, Flavia Kleiner, and the conservative British author, Douglas Murray, the economist, Noreena Hertz, the theatre director, Ivo van Hove, the photographer, Johny Pitts, football experts David Goldblatt and Simon Kuper, the geopolitical expert, Kishore Mahbubani, the author and feminist, Taslima Nasrin, and many, many more.
You can see another Forum on European Culture discussion, This is what we know about your future, here on tttdebates.org and you can access all of the other festival’s other events either via their online timetable or on the festival’s YouTube channel where they were live streamed.
The Forum on European Culture is an initiative of DutchCulture and De Balie.