A FLAS Fellow's Semester Abroad in Amman

Audrey Dombro, an agricultural and consumer economics student and 2019-20 FLAS fellow, reflects upon her experience studying in Jordan.

Master of Arts in European Union Studies

The European Union Center at the University of Illinois offers the only Master of Arts in European Union Studies (MAEUS) program in the Western Hemisphere. Learn more here.

Reading Contagion through Boccaccio's Decameron

Dr. Eleonora Stoppino discusses the moments of social and ethical breakdown described by Boccaccio, as well as the potential for reconstruction after the plague.

Conversations on Europe

Watch the collection of online roundtable discussions on different EU issues sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh.

COVID-19 and Liberal Democracy in Hungary

Dr. Zsuzsa Gille responds to the "Enabling Act," passed by the Hungarian Parliament on March 30, 2020.

Videos of Previous Lectures

Missed an EUC-hosted lecture? Our blog's video tag has archived previous EUC-sponsored lectures.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mahir Şaul-Edited Book on Judeo-Spanish and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century Published

Mahir Şaul, European Union Center-Affiliate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has edited a book that was recently published, entitled Judeo-Spanish in the Time of Clamoring Nationalisms
The book explores the power of language during the time of Nationalism during the twentieth century in the Balkans, Turkey, and the Levant within the context of Judeo-Spanish. It poses the question of whether or not language influenced the Jews' experience of nationalism and if language can survive in other forms after initial emigration and amongst newer generations.

Dr. Şaul has previously explored the topic of Judeo-Spanish in a journal article, "Istanbul Judeo-Spanish," co-written with Jose Ignacio Hualde , published in 2011 in the Journal of the International Phonetic Association. Dr. Saul was also honored with Utne Reader Magazine's Visionaries Award in the fall of 2012.


Friday, October 18, 2013

The Duality of Economic Convergence in the Eurozone

On October 11, David L. Cleeton -- the European Union Center's Visiting Scholar and Professor of Economics at Illinois State University -- gave a lecture entitled "The Duality of Economic Convergence in the Eurozone." Professor Cleeton's lecture addressed the issue of how the economies in the  Eurozone have converged and diverged over the course of its existence and addressed questions concerning these changes and the future of the Eurozone's economy.

A video of the lecture can be viewed below or by clicking here:


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hip-Hop à la Française

by Samir Meghelli

Elements of American culture abound in France, and vice versa. But that doesn't mean we are all doomed to cultural homogenization. Take hip-hop music, for example.

There are few cultural forms more American than hip-
hop, and yet it has taken firm hold in France. Over the last three decades, France has grown to become the largest market in the world (behind only the United States) for the production and consumption of this genre. But French hip-hop is not a copy of its American precursor. On the contrary, it is a rich scene of French artists who rap in their national language (and local argot) and narrate their own unique socio-political realities.

Unbeknownst to Americans, the French were among the first to embrace hip-hop. In 1984, the world's first regularly and nationally broadcast hip-hop television show made its debut on France's largest television channel, TF1 — long before any equivalent would appear in the United States. Later, the French minister of culture Jack Lang, whose mission was to promote and cultivate "French" culture, proclaimed that "intellectually, morally and artistically," hip-hop was a movement: "Even if in the beginning it drew inspiration from America, I believe it has found its originality here in France." In a decade, hip-hop went from being a fun, foreign, American import to being recognized as a source of French cultural pride.

The story of hip-hop in France makes clear that culture — and sometimes, in particular, presumed "national cultures" — are malleable and fluid. The borders that are constructed around a set of cultural practices and mark them as truly "French" or "American" only reflect the concerns of a given moment. And although hip-hop's historical roots are undeniably American, the music is now a lingua franca that speaks as powerfully to realities in France as it does in its country of birth.

Samir Meghelli is a professor of African American studies and French at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is writing "Between New York and Paris: A Transatlantic History of Hip Hop" and is on Twitter

This post was originally posted on the New York Times Opinion Pages on October 14, 2013 as part of the Room for Debate series "Is France Becoming Too American?"

Monday, October 14, 2013

The German Elections: Outcomes and Impacts Video Lecture

On September 26, a video conference was hosted by the European Union Center of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh regarding the recent German Elections and their implications, which took place a week prior on September 22. Faculty and students affiliated with the European Union Center of Excellence at the University of Illinois participated as members of the audience for this "Conversation on Europe" session, part of an ongoing series. Panelists included Ronald Linden and Patrick Altdorfer (The University of Pittsburgh); Myra Marx Ferree and Nils Ringe (University of Wisconsin-Madison); David Crew, Per Urlaub and Peter Rehberg (University of Texas- Austin). The conference was moderated by Dr. Steven E. Sokol, President and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

The video can be viewed on YouTube or below:


Friday, October 4, 2013

How the International Community Is Already Intervening in Syria and Must Continue to Do So

by Brett Barkley

Lost amidst recent debate1 of whether the international community should militarily intervene in Syria are all the ways in which intervention has already happened.

As of late September, the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) had allocated nearly €1.8 billion to provide support for the over 6 million Syrians either registered as refugees or internally displaced since the crisis began in 2011. Funds originate from the EU humanitarian aid budget, as well as individual member states—the UK (€ 473 million) and Germany (€205 million) being the largest donors. The US, in 2012 and 2013 alone, provided nearly $1.4 billion in assistance.

Compare with the tens of millions of dollars Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the House of Representatives that limited airstrikes in Syria would cost. Even if we assume that costs would be much higher, say in the hundreds of millions and perhaps approaching $1 billion (the approximate US contribution to the Libyan intervention), the numbers still don’t amount to the funds already poured into the crisis by the US and EU—albeit for more virtuous humanitarian assistance. This is not to say that the US or the broader international community should approve military intervention in Syria. But, it is to say that the isolationist refrain, heard recently across the US and perhaps parts of Europe, that tax dollars cannot continue to be wasted on conflicts in the Middle East is a bit off-base. For better or worse, the US and EU are already heavily invested, having already spent tax dollars in greater sums than a limited military intervention would likely require.

Fortunately, diplomatic negotiations have progressed, and military intervention now appears less imminent. Still, the humanitarian crisis on the ground continues to worsen. Even before the chemical weapons attack in late August, the UN had already increased the 2013 humanitarian appeal from $1.5 to $4.4 billion—the largest humanitarian appeal in the history of the UN. So, if there’s one certainty about the current crisis, it’s that the international community must continue to provide substantial monetary assistance. The stability of a region teetering on the brink depends on it.

Refugee camp in Turkey (Source: Creative Commons)

It has been nearly three years since the Arab Spring began, and few countries remain unscathed. Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, still largely intact despite some tremors, can be counted in this group. But under increasing strain from the mounting number of refugees within their borders, tensions are rising in these host communities—typically the most impoverished areas of the neighboring countries. The number of refugees in Lebanon equates to 15 percent of the entire population and nearly 10 percent in Jordan, where water shortages amidst rising prices are creating animosity toward the visiting population. Such increasing stress on already scarce water in the region could lead to issues of food security as demand for food rises and supply falls for crop inputs, such as water but also animal feed and fertilizers, typically imported from Syria. Moreover, urban and rural labor markets are adversely affected, too, angering laborers in the host communities who now must accept lower wages or are out of work altogether. 

The reality on the ground, not only in Syria but perhaps just as importantly in neighboring countries, does not allow the international community to stand idly by. This may not mean military intervention, but it does preclude minding our own business. The recent agreement, however precarious, with Assad’s chief ally, Russia, to disarm Syria of its chemical arsenal is a positive step. Continued flows of humanitarian aid are a must. In short, by whatever means deemed effective and lawful, international leaders—despite certain and unavoidable geopolitical interests—must move in concert to intervene in attempt to alleviate the current tragic and disastrous conditions. 

Brett Barkley is a joint Master’s Candidate in the Departments of Agricultural & Consumer Economics and Urban & Regional Planning. He is currently a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellow with the European Union Center, studying Turkish. His research includes the impact of the EU accession process on environmental policy in Turkey, particularly as it relates to the management of transboundary waters.

Alexander, David. "Cost of a U.S. strike against Syria could top Hagel's estimate." Reuters, September 5, 2013.

Daalder, Ivo, and James Stavridis. "NATO’s Victory in Libya: The Right Way to Run an Intervention." Foreign Affairs, March 2012.

ECHO. "Syria Crisis: ECHO Fact Sheet." September 23, 2013.

FAO. "Agricultural Livelihoods and Food Security Impact Assessment and Response Plan for the Syria Crisis in the Neighboring Countries of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey." March 2013.

Gordon, Michael. "U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Arms." The New York Times, September 14, 2013.

Hewitt, Gavin. "Syria crisis a 'defining moment' for the European Union." BBC News, September 9, 2013.

UKAID. "UKAID Syria Response." September 25, 2013.

UNOCHA. Syria: 8 things you need to know about the Syrian humanitarian crisis. June 7, 2013.

USAID. "Syria-Complex Emergency: Fact Sheet." September 24, 2013.

Warrick, Joby. "Influx of Syrian refugees stretches Jordan’s water resources even more thinly." The Washington Post, June 15, 2013.

1 The European Union Center (EUC) at the University of Illinois co-hosted a Teach-In on Syria on September 18, where professors from departments across campus addressed key issues concerning the conflict in Syria and held a robust dialogue with the audience. A video of the teach-in may be viewed by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Özge Zihnioğlu Writes New Book on EU Civil Society Policy and Turkey

Özge Zihnioğlu, Lecturer of International Relations at Istanbul Kültür University, has published a new book entitled, European Union Civil Society Policy and Turkey: A Bridge Too Far? The book draws on her dissertation research and teaching experience to consider enlargement policy, civil society policy, and EU-Turkey relations.

Zihnioğlu was a Visiting Scholar at the European Union Center during spring 2012. During her stay, she taught a course on EU civil society policy and gave a public lecture on the "Europeanization of Turkish NGOs."

Her new book is an important contribution to the current scholarship on EU-Turkey relations. Earlier in September, it was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Ankara Agreement between Turkey and the European Economic Community. The Turkish Studies Program at the University of Illinois offers language courses at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels, as well as culture courses offered in English and faculty-led study abroad programs.

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