10 January 2013

Love Letter to Europe

Dearest Europe,

I write to you out of deep affection and a respect that can only be earned through acquaintance.  You are, and will, remain a fixture of my soul.  My time abiding with you has touched me in ways that cannot be erased or forgotten in the sands of time.  Though I have not yet met the darker corners, hiding secrets so old and deep they forge into myth, and the depths of your trials, I feel a great kinship with you.

I have spent time in your central areas, those that have driven history and been subject to its many forces.  The aggressors, the supposed innocents, and the brow beaten, yet ultimately idealistic have all welcomed me in their borders.  These countries are glimpses into the human condition writ large: they have fought, despaired, blasphemed, and given up.  The whip of German masters awoke resentment in the heart of the Austrians and the despair of losing was in their vise grip and strangled in their fervor.

02 January 2013

Statues of the Past

This is a topic that interests me and it was provoked by an article I retweeted from The View East (which I highly recommend you click and browse!) about Lenin statues in Tajikistan.  As a BA-level trained anthropologist, I have studied the use of symbols and the political and cultural connections of them, which as proved to be a useful analysis tool for eastern Europe.  My infinitely wiser friend, James, sent me an article by Matti Bunzl (my admiration started here) entitled, "On the Politics and Semantics of Austria's Memory: Vienna's Monument against War and Fascism" (Indiana University Press); I have a personal connection to this since I lived only 2 blocks away from that monument and saw it every day.  There's a great deal of research on the topic, including Santino's astounding work on Northern Ireland, and I cannot reference everything I've read on it nor could I do the field of inquiry any justice with my citations.