Professor Juliane House
The conference, "Europe in Discourse: Identity, Diversity, Borders“ will be the most important interdisciplinary event to bring together scholars from philosophy, history, geography, political science, cultural studies and discourse analysis. These experts with their different backgrounds are united in their concern about the European project which started some sixty years ago and has recently come under attack given the growing divide between the rich and the poor, the North and the South, and between integration and national sovereignty.
Professor Rosina Marquez-Reiter
Globalization has brought about an era where diversity and, in some cases, ‘super diversity’ has become the norm as evidenced by the transforming face of urban populations in many European cities. This, in turn, has resulted in new forms of multiculturalism and identity construction in a Europe conventionally conceived of in terms of nationalism and the hegemony of its nation-states where increased population flows that do not fit the ideological model of ethnic homogeneity, speak valorized language varieties or have legitimate roots, occupy peripheral positions, as observed, among others, by their insertion in the lower-echolons of the labour market (e.g. low skilled jobs in cities, rural settlements often preventing interactions in urban hubs) and their increased social isolation.The "Europe in Discourse: Identity, Diversity, Borders” conference at the Hellenic American University, Athens represents a timely opportunity in which to enter an intercultural dialogue with renowned academic experts across the Humanities and Social Sciences with a view to understanding the complexities of the marginalization faced by many European citizens and exploring ways to overcome such challenges for the attainment of societal well-being.
Professor Vijay Bhatia
The concept of a European Community was created long time ago; however, in recent times, it has been tested by socio-political and regional disparities of various member countries, often augmented by the economic hardships that some members have been facing in the few several years. In the light of these developments, it has become more than necessary to examine and analyze the complexity of these contestations and multiplicity of perspectives.
It is in this prevailing context that the proposed interdisciplinary conference on “Europe in Discourse: Identity, Diversity, Borders” being organised in Athens, Greece, the birthplace of democracy, promises to be one of the most significant events that is likely to bring together prominently established scholars from a range of disciplines, such as philosophy, history, geography, political science, cultural studies and discourse analysis. This interdisciplinary initiative promises to be an exciting exchange of views and concerns of specialists deeply interested in the long-term integration of the European Community.Professor Jan BlommaertThe European project has gradually been transformed from a widespread utopia of peace, democracy and common prosperity to a dystopia of crisis, austerity and sociopolitical exclusion, pushing member states such as Greece into the deepest possible social, political and economic levels of disintegration. This transformation has taken place, gradually, over several decades, and it is time to examine it in detail. This conference, held in the capital of the country epitomizing this shift, will bring together leading scholars from several disciplines in an attempt to decode the conflicting visions and realities of "who is Europe?" It does so at a time when this question can no longer be avoided and has become of an almost life-or-death nature for millions of people, EU-citizens as well as immigrants attracted by the old utopia, but landing in the present dystopia. Professor Ruth WodakRight now, we are confronted – again – with a major crisis in Europe and the European Union: On the one hand, many refugees are trying to find a safe place to live and believe that Europe might be a new home; on the other, right-wing populist parties have adopted a rhetoric of exclusion and are proposing to shut down Europe’s borders. Moreover, the financial crisis is still apparent, especially in the South of Europe and most obviously, in Greece – where we will meet for the conference. And thirdly, the war in Ukraine indicates that violence is very close and might easily even transcend the borders of the EU.
All these conflicts, however, demand more negotiations and also a return to values which have once characterized the European Union – values of justice, freedom of speech, democracy, solidarity, multilingualism, and so forth, as already expressed in the Copenhagen Declaration of 1973.
It is high time to reflect on the difficult and dangerous situation of Europe; and thus, a conference which is located in the very heart of the crisis, in Athens, is most welcome and very timely. It is necessary to consider alternative ways of communicating with each other, of finding solutions to huge problems and of proposing ways of including ‘others’ – this is a huge challenge and a wonderful chance to contribute ideas and proposals from our perspective, from the perspective of language experts, from Applied Linguistics, in Athens, next year!