'Europe' and 'The Islamic World' : Perceptions and Stereotypes
- Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture has been exposed by some learned voices of 'the Muslim world' as alluding, by the means of one particular quotation, to age-old stereotypes about Islam being an essentially violent creed in which moderation through reason has no legitimate place, and of representing Muhammadas an evil and inhuman man who preached that Islam should be spread by the sword. While none of these presumably 'Muslim' voices deny that the Pope has the right to express his opinions, even when they are plainly wrong in the face of historic facts that show how Islam and Christianity were spread (or were made to spread) across the world, he is criticised for a host of omissions in terms of intellectual honesty and factual accuracy. These omissions, it is argued here, cast an unfortunate light on the compatibility of scientific and religious rationality much advocated by the Pope in his 12 September 2006 lecture. This flagrant 'performative contradiction' (Habermas) leaves room for speculation about the true aim of the speech. Is Benedict XVI's appeal to theology as a legitimate academic discipline a credible attempt to explicate Roman Catholicism's rightful place in a modern world governed by liberal democracy and ethical-political pluralism, or is it a reflection of a move to restore the age-old, intolerant, anti-scientific, and anti-democratic legacy of the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church?
German Romantics Imagining India : Friedrich Schlegel in Paris and Roots of Ethnic Nationalism in Europe
- When, some two centuries ago, German Romantics turned their backs on modernity – industrialisation, urbanisation, commerce and secularisation – they turned to ancient India. For them, India exemplified the primordial unity of mankind with this and the afterworld. For sections of the emerging nationalist movement in Germany, found the deployment of India handy to question the cultural hegemony, and eventually break the political dominance, of France. They tried to surpass the French, who claimed the ancient Roman heritage, by claiming an even older heritage for the Germans. Friedrich Schlegel for example suggested that the German language, and not the French, stood in unbroken continuity with ancient Sanskrit. For Romantics such as he, Sanskrit, the oldest surviving Indo-European language, was closest to the language of original divine revelation. This lead Schlegel to romanticise India in a way that stood in marked contrast to the Orientalist clichés current in other parts of Europe at the time. For him, the link between Sanskrit and German made Germany the true oriental self of Europe. The importance of this particular representation of India for the German national movement is underlined by the great number of university chairs that sprang up in the course of the nineteenth century: twenty two in Germany as opposed to only three in the United Kingdom. This paper explores the particular kind of ‘inverse’ Orientalism of the Germans in the context of its recent post-colonial critique.
Transnational geography and identity through translation and distribution in Germany, Spain and Latin America
- During the 1930s through the 1940s and into the 1950s, Spanish and German presentations in opposition to ardent nationalism share strikingly common aesthetic and ideological strategies supporting claims to a transnational, international space. Specific examples of common geography, identity and language in German and Spanish presentations (theater, short stories, reports, essays, speeches and poetry) in Spain and Latin America by German (Regler, Renn, Uhse), Spanish (J. Bergamin, R. Alberti, M. Aub) and Latin American (D. Rivera, P. Neruda, C. Vallejo) intellectuals, artists and activists during the 1930s through the 1950s will be explored. For example, German-speaking audiences and artists in Spain and Mexico shared a common lived and aesthetic space as Spanish-speaking audiences and artists. Further, many German presentations were translated into Spanish and visa versa. Here, presentations in “Das Wort” and “El Mono Azul” in Spain as well as “Freies Deutschland/Alemania libre” in Mexico will be referenced in developing a sense of re-definition of the concept of ‘foreign’ and ‘commonness’ beyond simply nationality (tradition, history and geography) and language. The impetus for an alternative, international and even revolutionary ‘space’ (as defined by Henri Lefebvre in The Production of Space) was produced in and through common Spanish and German strategies and realizations in their presentations. This Spanish-German example from the early/mid-part of the 20th century is a significant contribution to contemporary interdisciplinary discussions in the 21st century.
Changes in the fledging success over time with increasing population size in the Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Wangerooge Island (Lower Saxony, Germany)
- In this study, we report the results of a long-term investigation on changes in population size and fledging
success of Northern Lapwing on Wangerooge, a German Wadden Sea island. This population is increasing over a period
of 34 years in contrast to numerous populations in North-western Europe. The reproductive success however declines
over time and also with population density. Both effects cannot be considered separately due to autocorrelation.
However, it is noted that the population on Wangerooge is not sustained by local recruitment only. This outcome is
even more alarming as coastal areas and islands are considered as rare high quality meadow bird habitats. According
to the present results Wangerooge cannot be considered as a source habitat for Northern Lapwings in North-western
Breeding success of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa under ‘mosaic management’, an experimental agrienvironment scheme in The Netherlands
- Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) have been declining for decades in The Netherlands and so far this has
not been slowed by conservation measures. A new form of agri-environment scheme was tried out in 2003-2005 at 6
sites where a ‘grassland mosaic’ (200-300 ha) was created by collectives of farmers through a diverse use of fields including
postponed and staggered mowing, (early) grazing, creating ‘refuge strips’ during mowing, and active nest protection.
We measured breeding success of godwits in each of the experimental sites and nearby, paired controls. Breeding
success was higher (0.28 chicks fledged /pair) in mosaics than in controls, but due to lower agricultural nest losses only.
Chick survival was 11 % in both mosaics and controls. The amount of late-mown and other grassland suitable for chicks
hardly differed between treatments during the fledging period, mainly due to rainfall delaying postponed mowing in
all sites. Chick survival was however positively correlated with site variation in the amount of high grass (>18 cm).
Breeding success was high enough to compensate for adult mortality (ca. 0.6) in only one mosaic site. Chick survival
was lower than in previous Godwit studies, indicating that additional loss factors have increased. Predation (50-80 % of
chicks, mostly by birds) is a candidate, but changes in the suitability of late-mown grassland (insect abundance and
sward density in grass monocultures) may also play a role. Consequently a higher management investment is needed
to achieve a self-sustaining population.
The importance of early breeding in Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa)
- Human impacts on the landscape have increased the penalties for Black-tailed Godwits laying their eggs too late, especially in the very intensive agricultural landscapes of The Netherlands. Thus, godwits have experienced a dramatic change of their fitness landscape, because the advance in mowing date made late clutches worthless destroying either eggs or chicks. To determine the driving forces of the recent population decline we study the individual variation in timing of breeding with respect to reproductive success in a population unaffected by mowing. Our results show that even in a low intensity agricultural area it is very important for godwits to breed early in the season.
Predation on meadowbirds in The Netherlands – results of a four-year study
- Meadowbird populations in The Netherlands are under great pressure. Recently, predation is named increasingly
often as one of the key factors in contributing to the declines. A four-year research project (2001-2005) aimed to
collect (as yet mostly nonexisting) data to provide a factual basis for this discussion. A country-wide inventory based
on data for wader nests found by volunteers who mark nests for their protection from grazing/mowing indicated that
above-average predation losses are found predominantly in the half-open landscapes of northern and eastern Netherlands,
but also locally in the low-lying open grasslands which are the key areas for meadowbirds. Nest predation has
increased in recent years, but the same is true for agricultural losses, at least in areas where no nest-protection takes
At a local scale, predation losses vary greatly from area to area and from year to year. Temperature loggers in nest
showed that diurnal and nocturnal predators contribute equally in total predation losses up to 50%, but higher predation
losses are mainly caused by nocturnal predators. As many as 10 animal species were identified as nest predators
on nests under surveillance with video cameras. Chick survival, investigated using radiotelemetry, was very low. About
60-80% were lost by predation, 5-15% by agricultural activities and 10-15% to all kind of other losses. At least 15
predator species were implied, with an apparently larger share taken by birds (notably Buzzard (16%) and Grey Heron
(7-18%)) than mammals, with one exception: stoat (16%). Of the most-discussed predator species, Carrion Crows were
W. Teunissen et al. Osnabrücker Naturwiss. Mitt. 32 2006
remarkably rarely involved in both nest and chick predation, while Red Foxes take a large toll of clutches in some areas,
but not in others.
Of all losses during the reproductive cycle about 75% and 60% was due to predation in Lapwing and Black-tailed
Godwit respectively. Predation on chicks by birds had the largest effect on total breeding success, but at the same time
elimination of this loss factor (if at all possible) alone would not be sufficient to establish a self-sustaining population.
Predation seems to have become a factor of importance in some areas, in combination with already existing other
losses. Our findings suggest that solutions to predation problems probably have to be found in locally/regionally targeted,
specific action on multiple fronts rather than countrywide measures.
Some considerations and thoughts on the pragmatic classification of apomictic Rubus taxa
- Based on his studies of the genus Rubus in the Czech Republic, the author describes classification of brambles from Rubus subgen. Rubus in Europe, its recent history, present state, and current problems. In general, the author follows the adherents of "Weberian batology" which in the last 25 years has assumed European responsibility for attempting to ciassify that particular genus. The thesis that not every bramble plant can be inciuded in the ciassification is accepted. The objective reasons for taxonomic difficulties within Rubus subgen. Rubus are connected with special features of taxogenesis of its members, especially with incomplete apomixis, frequent hybridization, splitting of the progeny into different morphotypes, resexualization, transitory existence of segregants, etc. The progress of the evolution of a new taxon in the given taxonomic group can be ranked: individual bush - local type - regional species - species with an extensive distribution area.
The split of reason and the postcolonial backlash
- Let’s not forget that 1492, one of the first landmarks of Modernity, was both the year of the conquest of the Americas and of the fall or of the Reconquista of Granada, both of inner and outer ethnic cleansing of the nation state; that the national state was a colonial state and is now a securitarian state, that colonialism was the very form of Western Modernity, that the French Revolution itself was colonial, that the leader of the first Black revolutionary independence movement, Toussaint Louverture (Haiti), died in a French prison though inspired by the French Revolution. - No-one has access to reason as whole: there is no such thing as the whole of Reason, or Reason as a whole, or the Totality of reason. Reason is patched up of disconnected bits and pieces that reside at different addresses.
Cultural translation : a value or a tool? Let’s start with Gramsci!