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.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Conversations on Gramsci: Revolution and Context

By Alexandra van Doren

A screenshot of Nadim Mirshak and Peter Mayo from the video version of the interview.
This interview with Peter Mayo by University of Illinois Professor and anthropologist Linda Herrera and Univeristy of Manchester Lecturer Nadim Mirshak explores how foundational Gramscian principles can be and have been transposed, translated, and applied across cultures and geography. We begin first by exploring Gramsci’s influence on Professor Mayo and the way in which he, in turn, influenced Dr. Mirshak throughout the course of his Ph.D. program ,primarily through his book Gramsci, Freire and adult education.

Professor Mayo delves into a Gramscian philosophy which he refers to as “the Southern Question.” This question is directly related to geography, which was the theme Professor Mayo found most relatable as a citizen of Malta, as both Malta and Sardinia were islands. He was deeply interested in the political and cultural climates of archipelagoes, how they are formed, and how they participate in or rebel against hegemony, though he argues the two are not mutually exclusive and are invariably intertwined. What sorts of transformations occur in these civil societies and how do they happen? Moreover, he felt Gramsci contextualized his own understanding of revolution in his country and the Mediterranean in general.

Dr. Mirshak reveals his own interest in Gramsci and Professor Mayo’s perspective on such philosophies as stemming from his experiences as a citizen of Egypt. From 2011-2013, Egypt’s participation in the Arab Spring (a term Professor Mayo admittedly avoids) brought about many questions regarding the successes and failures of revolution, the way in which a revolution comes about and is executed, and the failed “hegemony” of Mubarak’s regime. Dr. Mirshak, too, felt Gramsci could help him contextualize the political state of his country as these events were unfolding and in the aftermath as well.

The conversation between the two scholars continues to touch on issues of the importance of critical media literacy and an awareness of misinterpretations of Gramsci’s philosophies, particularly in the Middle East. They acknowledge and discuss the transformation of a text when it is interpreted by and applied to a particular society, which is a reference point for the entirety of the interview. It is fascinating to see the multifaceted uses of Gramsci’s texts and principles as well as its transnational applicability, as evidenced by both Professor Mayo and Dr. Mirshak’s experiences with Gramsci and their home countries. That is to say, all of the observations about each society internalizing Gramsci’s texts in their own way must come with an awareness that the text transforms in some way with each application.

The interview ends on an intentionally positive note with a phrase Gramsci borrowed from Romain Roland, “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” What is optimistic about this interview is its exchange of ideas about not only how Gramsci can help us understand our own political and social contexts, but also how social worlds can be constructed “from below” in a grassroots fashion to combat repressive regimes, a concept critical for the Global South. The interview itself illustrates the importance of intercultural educational exchange and the ways in which two vastly different societies can find themselves linked by various forms of literature and philosophy.

You can watch a truncated version of the interview on YouTube, or read a longer transcript on the openDemocracy website.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

European Union Awards Prestigious Research, Teaching and Outreach Grant to the European Union Center at the University of Illinois


Champaign, IL, August 7, 2017

The European Union Center (EUC) at the University of Illinois (UI) has been awarded its second Jean Monnet Center of Excellence grant. This program funded by the European Union (EU) promotes greater study and understanding of the EU and transatlantic relations in the US. The competition was quite high with only nine Centers in the U.S. receiving this prestigious designation out of 344 eligible applicants worldwide.

The EU has designated the EUC as a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence for 2018-2021 for its project “Re-imaging Identities and Institutions for a Stronger Europe (RIISE).” This prestigious designation acknowledges excellence in the EUC’s teaching, research, and outreach programs. The EUC will use the funds to continue to serve as the campus focal point for outreach, research, and teaching related to the EU. The EUC will also reach local, regional, and national communities through strategic outreach activities.

In particular, the grant will strengthen transatlantic dialogue by building on UI expertise and international partnerships through delivering seven research projects including a scholar-in-residence program; six new courses; refereed publications and an e-book; unique virtual platforms for transatlantic dialogue among educators; extensive academic and outreach programming, including conferences, speaker series, a European journalist-in-residence program, competitions for high-school and college students; and impactful high-visibility public events. The project will explore historical roots of European populism; the EU as an actor in international institutional order; legislative careers in EU institutions; European parties and elections; EU cultural programs; social inclusion and the linguistic integration of migrants in the EU; gender politics focusing on Eastern Europe; and EU enlargement.

The EUC, under the leadership of the Center Director Carla Santos, will administer the program in collaboration with distinguished project faculty from across disciplines: William Bernhard, Jake Bowers, Xinyuan Dai, Carol Leff, Konstantinos Kourtikakis (Political Science); George Deltas (Economics); Zsuzsanna Fagyal and Emanuel Rota (French & Italian); and Zsuzsa Gille (Sociology, Global Studies).

Prior to becoming a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence in 2015, the EUC was the only American institution to have simultaneously coordinated two successful Jean Monnet Modules to teach team-taught courses on “Europe and the Mediterranean: Transnational Spaces and Integration,” awarded in 2011 and completed in 2014, and “Eastern Europe and European Integration,” awarded in 2013 and completed in 2016. Besides the course offerings, the Jean Monnet Modules reached other EUC stakeholders through conferences, lectures, publications, radio/TV broadcasts, webcasts, and workshops. In addition, the EUC previously secured three Getting to Know Europe grants from the EU (2008-09; 2011-12; 2015-17) to explore the multi-faceted economic, social, cultural, and environmental connections between the state of Illinois and the EU through study tours, conferences, lectures, competitions and digital media.

The University of Illinois European Union Center (EUC) was established in 1998 with support from the European Union, as one of the ten original EU Centers in the United States. In 2003, the US Department of Education designated the EUC as a Title VI National Resource Center, a title the Center has held successively. In 2011, the European Union recognized the EUC as a European Union Center of Excellence. In 2015, the European Union recognized the EUC as a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence for the first time.

For more information please visit the EUC website at europe.illinois.edu
Contact: Dr. Sebnem Ozkan, EUC Associate Director; 217 244 0570; asozkan@illinois.edu


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