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"In Search of Europe?" A research and art project at work

Mar 21, 2012 | 07:00 PM

Lecture by Bettina Gräf, Daniela Swarowsky & Samuli Schielke

Chair: Florian Kohstall


For more than a century, people in the Middle East and Africa have been compelled to think about their present and future in comparison (and sometimes in confrontation) with standards set in Europe and other metropolitan centers of the world – be it in the arts, literature, political ideologies, education, or trajectories of migration. But what if “Europe” is not what Europeans often have in mind when talking about Europe? What if “Europe” is about building a house in Senegal, claiming civil rights in Egypt, or meeting the political challenge of colonial expansion around the Mediterranean? The question we want to pose, then, is not about perceptions of Europe, but about the search for a better future in an unequal world where some parts of the world set the standards which others have to reckon with. It is a question about possible ways to overcome this historical condition of inequality – also in regard to methodologies of research and collaboration.

“In Search of Europe: Considering the Possible in Africa and the Middle East” is an interdisciplinary research project at Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. In their presentation Samuli Schielke, Daniela Swarowsky (and Bettina Gräf via online presence) tell about the underlying vision of the project, show examples about the methods and experiences of collaboration, and discuss the possibilities and limits of their interdisciplinary approach.


Dr. Bettina Gräf is a Research Fellow at Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. She studied Islamic Studies, Political Science and Arab Culture and History in Berlin. Her current project deals with the material conditions of the debates about capitalism, socialism and Islam in the 1940 and 1950 in Egypt and Lebanon.

Daniela Swarowsky is an Austrian curator and cultural producer living and working in Rotterdam and Berlin. Over the past nine years she has developed a series of art-projects related to questions of migration and identity, like her film-trilogy "Messages from Paradise: About the Permanent Longing for Elsewhere". She currently works at Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin where she curates an exhibition in conjunction with the research project called “In Search of Europe”.

Dr. Samuli Schielke is a research fellow at Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin and head of the research project "In search of Europe". His ongoing anthropological research focuses on frustration, hope, creativity, and cosmopolitan imaginaries in Alexandria. He teaches anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin

The lecture is part of our series: "Studies on Egypt and the Middle East in Berlin", jointly organized by the Cairo Offices of Freie Universität Berlin, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Archeological Institute (DAI).



Time & Location

Mar 21, 2012 | 07:00 PM

at the premises of the German Academic Exchange Service