One 'grand narrative' after another is discarded, leaving the European mind longing for a unifying narrative that crystallises the European identity.
- Professor Ezra Talmor
On Monday, July 24, as many as 400 delegates from universities and research institutes the world over are converging on Msida for the 10th world congress of the International Society for the Study of European Ideas.
The congress, which is being convened on behalf of the society by Professor Henry Frendo from the University of Malta, is entitled 'The European Mind: Narrative and Identity'.
The academic work of the congress kicks off with a keynote speech by Professor Enrique Banus of the University of Navarra tomorrow evening about 'The Crisis of Europeanness', a critique of European literature in the 20th century. A concluding keynote address will be delivered by ISSEI's president, Professor Ezra Talmor, of the University of Haifa, on Saturday morning.
In between, scores of workshops led by published scholars and distinguished researchers from all over Europe, the US, Australia and elsewhere, will be discussing Europeanness under multi-fold headings and from a wide variety of angles. Workshops are classified under four main sections - history, geography and science; economics, politics and law; education, women's studies and sociology; art, theatre, literature, music and culture; language, philosophy, psychology and religion.
Professor Frendo's own workshop on 'Empire and Nation in the Mediterranean' has participating academics from universities in Britain, Canada, Australia, Malta, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Israel and Turkey. It is discussing culture, history, politics, society, language, ideology and identity topics relating to the entire Mediterranean region and beyond, especially with regard to colonial and post-colonial times.
A related workshop, led by Professor Bojka Djukanovic from the University of Montenegro, is looking at the Mediterranean as "the meeting point of civilisation".
Its presentations range from Sephardic Jewry in the Balkans to Europe's Southern Exposure, Mediterraneanness in Albert Camus and Sakinna Boukhedemna, Italy in English fiction, Kahlil Gibran as an American-Lebanese artist, Byron, and Professor M.A. Fazal's still optimistic offering on 'A Peaceful Resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict'.
Professor Frendo said it was a privilege to host such an enriching, instructive and representative intellectual gathering, which offered a multiplicity of findings and perspectives in disciplines ranging from history, law and philosophy to literature, theology and science. "There is something here for every searching mind; the exchanges and contacts that ensue from such encounters are invaluable, and often lasting," Professor Frendo said.
It is expected that a number of selected papers would be published in the Society's prestigious journal, The European Legacy.
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