dr. M.C. van der Waal
Environmental humanities, literature and South African identity.
Images of Africa in European context (co-operation with Marian Counihan)
Representing society's invisibles: the problem of societal invisibility and Europeanness
This research network on Cultural Mechanisms of Inclusion and Exclusion in Contemporary Europe (CMIECE) brings together scholars whose work analyzes transnational cultural, intellectual and political mechanisms that promote inclusion and exclusion on the local, national, and European level.
Social scientists have long worked to understand the ways that social groups promote unity and do (or do not) tolerate diversity. It is also well known that patterns of understanding, discourse, and political theory can likewise be understood as cultural or conceptual mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion.
Our point of departure is the belief that today's discussion of the meanings and future of "Europe" can be enriched by examining the ways "Europe"—as idea, as cultural point of reference, and as political concept—functions as a just such a conceptual mechanism of inclusion and exclusion.
The three clusters of the research network explore alternative ways of conceiving Europe. These will: examine how the idea of a "European culture" has been conceptualized historically; explore how competing visions of Europe affect prospects for participating in society and politics in Europe; and analyze how European experiences of inclusion and exclusion have been represented and given meaning in works of literature and film.
By isolating and understanding these cultural mechanisms, this research aims to engage in a productive dialogue across the humanities and social sciences in order to explore alternative ways of understanding and describing Europe in cultural and political debates. The network seeks thereby to contribute to efforts to imagine and achieve a more sustainable and inclusive Europe.
The first CMIECE meeting took place from 12 - 14 November 2015 in Göttingen.
(In collaboration with Lars Klein, Göttingen University and Martin Benjamin, Uppsala University, and part of the U4 network of the universities of Uppsala, Göttingen, Ghent and Groningen)
Projects with students:
"Project Big" (completed, 2015): A small group of UCG students (Class of 2017) egnaged with the complex process of big goverment projects and the issue of citizen support. The students identified the issue of dwindling public support for the Forum Project (a project of the City Council) and investigated - through careful archival research - the reasons for this. The results of this project were showcased during the annual UCG exhibition in June 2015.
"Placeless Spaces" (completed, 2015) A number of UCG students embarked on a thrilling adventure to cooperate on a research project with their peers from Minerva Arts Academy and the Prince Claus Conservatory. For the Nacht van Kunst en Wetenschappen (June 2015), they conducted research on how to turn those 'nasty' areas in the city of Groningen where people prefer not to be, into meaningful places where dynamic and postivie social interaction can take place. Their proposals were showcased during the Nacht at the various locations they have been working on.
"Project Rome" (completed): A group of ten 2nd year UCG students will explore the issues and problems the Eternal City - Rome - is currently facing. They have formulated gripping research questions for this project. One project investigated "bottom-up" solutions to Rome's waste problem (see http://www.rome2016.nl/about.html), while the other group looked at the complexity of reasons behind Rome's enormous waste of municipal water.
Both groups resided for a research period at the Royal Dutch Institute in Rome (KNIR) and presented the results of their research during a student conference organized by the UCG Class of 2017 on 27 May 2016.
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