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Crisis in Berlin and Paris: Diversity, Culture, and the Good Life

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Jan- Jonathan Bock.

The crisis year 2015 forced Europeans to reflect intensely on issues of migration, integration, culture, citizenship, and collective identity. In France, the January killings at Charlie Hebdo and in a Kosher superstore, and the November gun attacks in northern Paris, intensified debates about the co-existence of cultural and religious groups. The year of terror was accompanied by the significant electoral success of the far-right Front National, which advocates the return to a pre-globalisation, pre-diversity, pre-European France. In Germany, the arrival of over one million refugees revealed inadequacies in public administration, which struggled with the influx of up to 10,000 people daily. The national mood was initially largely in favour of receiving the newcomers. When their numbers stabilized at high rates and politicians called the situation a national emergency, however, Germans became divided between supporters and harsh critics of Chancellor Merkel’s refusal to close the country’s borders.

In their paper, Sami Everett and Jan Bock analyse the impact of contemporary crises on debates about diversity, cultural difference, and belonging, focussing on their respective research sites in two European capitals. They illustrate how Berliners and Parisians experienced challenges and violent transformations during the year 2015 through an examination of questions that were much neglected in media discourses on exceptional crisis scenarios: what does it mean to live a good life in 21st-century urban neighbourhoods?

Drinks and snacks will be served. Everyone is welcome.

This talk is part of the Peterhouse Theory Group series.

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