Looking for Stories…

I guess I have been avoiding blogging because I would then have to say something about the gains made in the last Dutch election by an amateur film-maker and populist politician. It is indeed depressing that something like 15% of the population can still fall for the same, old nationalist story: that all social ills can be blamed on some scary ‘other’. Yes I can understand how some of the population can feel fear and uncertainty. But do they have to buy into such a transparent hate-monger? But anyway… it does reflect the power of a simple story.

I have been doing some work for the European Cultural Foundation (ECF). Yes: ‘Europe’ and ‘culture’ are two words that usually inspire the glazing over of eyes. But the ECF is starting a very interesting project: looking for stories/narratives that can cross borders instead of define borders. Nationalist stories are clear and effective: one collection of people is deemed great while another collection of people is made responsible for all of society’s problems. Play on fear and you’ll do well at an election — just look at WWII and the wars in ex-Yugoslavia. This is all pretty straightforward. But where do you find stories that work to bring people together? And how do you promote them and spread them without sounding like a freaking hippy? That’s trickier.

A couple of months ago ECF brought together a group of academics to discuss ‘New Narratives for Europe’ and how they can perhaps work as a positive force. I had to write a report. The process hurt my brain but at least this Canadian boy got his crash course in European Studies (thanks Sarah!). And while the resulting report is too sprawling to get a ¬†general audience excited, my greatest personal goal has become: to be able to bring up some notion of Europe into a conversation without losing the attention of whomever I am talking to. Reach for the stars, I say, reach for the stars! And if it ever happens: what a story it will be…

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Posted in Uncategorized 13 years, 10 months ago at 8:53 am.


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2 Replies

  1. Floris Aug 3rd 2010

    Bud, I actually wanted to read the report. But the link seems to fail. Or is it my crappy Firefox?

  2. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for the report, I forwarded it to some of my contacts. The idea is exciting and reaching for the stars can be a good thing as long as you stay in contact with earth.

    Yesterday I watched the debate in the Tweede Kamer … it was really devastating to watch two grown up men (Rutte & Verhagen) laughing and giggling throughout the debate. Imagine one of them will be our future PM.

    And then I can’t understand how it is possible that a party which is not democratic and fascistic in principle can be a part of the Dutch government!

    Times are changing and I can’t help myself but it has to do something with the power of money … and the personality of the people.

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