• Cathy Castling

What will become of Europe? Europe’s fate in Europa28.

Europa28 is a powerful collection of writing from 28 women who each represent one of the 28 EU member states. It’s a stark commentary on the current state, and recent past, of our beloved continent. Laura Bates notes that the writings in Europa28 bring a fresh take on a historical narrative that has been largely male dominated. This group of female writers recognise Europe’s flaws and riches, its challenges as well as its beauty. This collection encourages a self-evaluation of Europe, which needs to be done if we are to resolve our current issues.

This eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction writing examines Europe’s past, present, and future. In her writing, Asja Bakić’s poses the important question: what will become of Europe?


I would suggest reading these texts in isolation. Give yourself time to take in the content, author’s message, and the language that has been used. These writers are wordsmiths as well as activists. For me, their writing has a bigger impact when read individually.


Europa28 is the collection of writing that we need right now; it makes us face the reality of Europe’s current state, but also offers some possible solutions.


One of the overwhelming feelings when you read this collection is the feeling of fragmentation. Kapka Kassabova (Two Lakes) draws attention to the fact that we live on one continent, yet we are divided by invisible, but tangible, borders. Julya Rabinowich (Cracks in the Ice) also highlights the fragmented society that we’re currently living in and urges us to find a resolution that will make Europe whole again.


It seems as though the only way to evoke change within our society is to first believe that we deserve this change. Once we have accepted that we need and deserve change, then we have to decide what we want our continent to look like. Janne Teller (My Dream for Europe) encourages us to find balance in Europe, we need to create a space of peaceful coexistence in which our new society can thrive. Ioana Nicolaie (Inside the Coffer) encourages us to revel in the fact that we are Europeans. We should celebrate our diversity and the mixing of cultures within Europe.


By coming together, “united in diversity”[1], we can evoke change within our society. We can create a society which will look after everyone who lives within it. However, as Aploena Rychlíková (Europe Must be for the 99 Per Cent) states that before we can get to this utopia, someone must first take responsibility for it, which is by no means an easy task. Žydrūnė Vitaitė (Change Is Not Just a Hashtag) inspires us with her story of how the people of Lithuania fought for their freedom and won it. These writings show us that it’ll require a lot of perseverance, patience, and hard work, but we can create a new Europe.



Brussels

Still, the fact remains that before we can even think about a revolution we have to address the issues that we currently, and have recently, faced. Renata Salecl (The Crisis of Trust) highlights that we have a lack of trust in each other, as well as in the EU, which needs to be overcome if we are to change. Ana Pessoa (The Voice Inside My Head) also draws attention to the fact that we, as a society, are not content. We have our freedom, but we are not content with the way that our society is being run. This could be due to the fact that, as Edurne Portela (The Same Stone) notes, we have become passive to and, therefore, complicit in the rise of fascism. The persecution of the Other, especially the non-European Other, has become normalised in our society and the fact that we recognise this but do nothing to stop it is an issue. Sofía Kouvelaki (I Can Now Tell You My Story) urges us not to become passive towards the violence and danger that is right on our doorstep. We must make some integral changes within ourselves before we can tackle the larger problem of our society.


Europa28 is a call to action for us all. These women suggest that if we want change, we must incite it ourselves, but we need to reflect on Europe’s past to avoid repeating history. All of these writings show that Europe is, and can be, a beautiful place, but we can’t ignore the things that are happening around us. This collection couldn’t have come at a better time, the time for change is now and we must take responsibility for it.



Europa28, edited by Sophie Hughes and Sarah Cleave, will be published by CommaPress on 12thMarch 2020.



[1] The EU Motto https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/symbols/motto_en

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