Author: Guest Post

Cross cultural love and friendship stories help creativity

– by William Maddux and Andrew Hafenbranck, INSEAD The stamp in one’s passport doesn’t always define the distance one has travelled. For some professionals, an overseas stint is an opportunity to change not only their surroundings but also themselves – to become more broad-minded and creative people. Previous research suggests that expats who deeply engage with the local culture by mixing with locals and learning their language, for example, tend to become more creative and enjoy greater professional success after returning home than those who stick to expat enclaves. If what matters most for creative growth is the bridges you build between cultures, not the physical borders you cross, perhaps leaving home isn’t absolutely necessary. After all, globalisation has produced an unprecedented mingling of cultures and ethnicities, as is evident on the streets of nearly every major global city (much to the outrage of the far right). The chance to form cross-cultural bonds could be as close as the next street corner, or the next cubicle. Regardless of the surroundings, close personal relationships – including …

‘Big, beautiful’ walls don’t stop migrants in the US or Europe

– by Anna Triandafyllidou, European University Institute Walls have a strong political connotation in post-war Europe. The most tragically famous was the Berlin wall built in 1961 to prevent citizens of the DDR (otherwise known as East Germany) from seeking refuge in the West. The fall of that wall in 1989 signalled the reunification not only of Germany but of the entire European continent, and the end of the Cold War. It also marked a European commitment to providing asylum to people fleeing from persecution. Unfortunately, history often repeats itself and citizens forget. Thus, walls and fences have been proliferating in Europe over the past 12 years as a response to migration flows. The most famous wall of them all. Roland Arhelger, CC BY-SA Fortress Europe It was as early as 1995 when the first project for building fences around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast started. It was completed in 2000, three-quarters funded by the European Union for a total cost of €48 million. However, the continuing attempts by …

The Greek asylum crisis: moving beyond the blame game to a real solution

– Anna Triandafyllidou, European University Institute An unusual wave of cold weather in the first week of January 2017 exposed the stark deficiencies of Greece’s asylum seeker policy. Camps housing tens of thousands people seeking refuge from war were hit by snow and freezing rain, with residents exposed to sub-zero temperatures and arctic winds. The winter crisis made headlines worldwide. It left no doubt of the fact that ten months after the EU-Turkey agreement led to a stark decrease in migrant flows to the country, Greece is still struggling to cope with the asylum challenge. Substantial funding has been made available to deal with the migration emergency, both directly to relevant ministries and to international NGOs. According to a recent European Commission report, Greece has received €295 million out of a total of €861 million earmarked for the Europe-wide refugee crisis. Of this €295 million, at least half has been given directly to international organisations. But it’s not working. Greece’s impossible task Greece is currently facing a Sisyphean task. It must first provide appropriate first reception …

Authentic Liaisons: Creating Bridges across Cultures

Flying in to Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, Renan Bourdeau looked down at the endless stretches of desert below and wondered how people survived. As a communications company executive who specialised in writing country reports to promote national economies and attract foreign investors, Bourdeau was no stranger to exotic lands. Experienced as he was in working with different cultural approaches to business, he knew nothing of Mauritania, one of Africa’s poorest countries. According to his company’s guide book – a “bible” which contained details of its previous assignments in the region and the insights gained – the country was controlled by the Moors who held office in Nouakchott while their extended families lived a more nomadic way of life in the desert. Social customs to bridge cultural chasms The pace and style of business in the capital was based on Bedouin social courtesies and traditions which Bourdeau was keen to respect. Hospitality was a requirement of a decent Mauritanian and Bourdeau was prepared to indulge in a great deal of tea-drinking during the course of …

Why the Intellectual Elite Can’t Learn Its Lesson?

History may show that the single biggest casualty of 2016 was the credibility of elites. The one-two punch of Brexit and Trump has left establishment media and politicians reeling, their prestige cast into doubt. Their obliviousness to the right-wing populist surge exposed the bubble that most elites live in. It’s clear that they’ve been speaking and listening to one another within that bubble for far too long. So what now? Since Donald J. Trump’s victory, we’ve seen a bevy of ostensibly soul-searching think pieces from elites attempting to pinpoint how they got it wrong. But even amid this seeming display of humility, a streak of superiority shows through. In The Washington Post, for example: “We wanted to believe… America was better than that. I can fault journalists for a lot of things, but I can’t fault us for that.” A British professor of politics was quoted in The New York Times, “It’s no longer ‘the economy, stupid’, it’s ‘identity, stupid’… Identity and cultural politics are even bigger determinants of people’s politics than we thought possible.” …

A populist in power in the U.S.

The USA on November 8th, 2016 elected a demagogue and misogynist with no prior political experience, scant respect for liberal-democratic values, an allegedly volatile temperament and next to no knowledge of international affairs to the highest political office in the land and the most powerful in the world. Is it surprising? Yes. But only because almost all opinion pollsters (once again wrong-footed!) anticipated a Clinton victory and in his campaign Trump appeared to have been enmeshed in too many moral and financial scandals and to have antagonized and offended too many constituencies and groups, even within his own Republican Party, to win. But Trump masterfully tapped into and mobilized deep-seated protectionist and isolationist tendencies that dominated US economic and foreign policies until the Second World War, but were buried temporarily by the Cold War with the Soviet Communist block in the ensuing four decades. He rode the rising tide of populism (the glorification of an ethnically and culturally homogenous ‘people’ against an – allegedly – corrupt ‘establishment’) that has gathered momentum and swept the Western world, …

London Boaters Mobilities in Today’s Society

Within London, it exists a community of nomadic people, which unfolds along and concurrently coexists with all the hustle and plurality of the vibrant urban life. London’s intricate architecture disguises the presence of a widespread network of canals and rivers that crisscross it, and it is within such intricate loom that boaters slowly and silently carry on their lives. It is a “secret town” (Cullen in Braithwaite 1976:8), that of boaters, a world on its own that, ever since the construction of the first narrowboat, has concealed a character of marginality and of partial separation from State’s institutions. While allowing a higher degree of freedom and independence, the freedom to be wherever you choose, to move wherever you want, the boat has also always gifted boaters with the self-sufficiency of resources. However, many are the implications as well as the contradictions that spring from the coexistence of such flexible nomadic lives within the bounded spaces and sharp structures of contemporary society. Narrowboats where first built as means for the transportations of industrial goods, and where …