Tag Archives: Europe

Tamyko Ysa, Joan Colom, Adrià Albareda, Anna Ramon, Marina Carrión, & Lidia Segura, Governance of Addictions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)

 

In general there is a tendency to underestimate the harm caused by addictions in our society. Studies have for example shown that annual social cost of alcohol relating to impaired health, crime and lost productivity is around €300 for every man, woman and child in Europe. Notably these studies do not figure in the societal costs that alcohol causes for the people surrounding the drinker, in which case the cost could easily be doubled. Whatever method is used to calculate its economic effects, nobody can doubt that addiction is one of the most important problems facing modern society.

It is important to stress the societal nature of the beast. Drugs do not only influence the health of the individual, but have far-reaching effects on the general public through employment, education, productivity, crime, integration and other factors. This also means that addiction becomes the subject of a multitude of government agencies, as well as private. And all these different organizations may have different agendas and priorities.

Historically there have been three distinct trends in how addictions have been tackled in Western Europe. First was the moral paradigm that emerged in the beginning of the 20th century as a reaction (often with a religious underpinning) to the popularization of alcohol and drugs. Abuse was thought to indicate lack of self-control and individual weakness, and the main achievements of the moral paradigm were the laws in many countries that limited or banned the sale of alcohol. Second was the so-called “assistentialism” during the 1950’s and 1960’s when addiction became seen as an illness and had to be treated accordingly by the medical establishment. The third trend was the public-health approach that followed the heroin and cocaine boom in the 1970’s and 1980’s and the subsequent HIV-epidemic. During that time, governments were forced to spend more effort in reducing harm to the drug-users than actually achieving abstinence.

Although not always very successful, governance of addiction is extremely important. It is vital to realize that changing the social and physical environment is far more effective in helping people to improve their health than trying to change individual behaviour. This means that governments wield immense influence. There are powers that only they can exercise, policies only they can impose, and outcomes only they can achieve. Governments can, for example, dictate pricing, availability and advertising of alcohol and tobacco, but one of the most important hurdles for reaching their stated goals for public health, is their inability to reign in the big companies in these markets.

This book is the first in a planned and much welcomed series resulting from the ALICE RAP (Addictions and Lifestyles in Contemporary Europe – Reframing Addiction) Project, led by the Foundation of Biomedical Research in Barcelona and the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University, aiming at redesigning the governance of addiction in Europe. It presents a multi-disciplinary approach, linking together public policy, medicine, politics, sociology, economics and law, in an effort to develop an explanatory framework for understanding addiction policies currently used in Europe.

The authors identify four models of addiction policies: (1) the trend-setters in illicit substances model, (2) the regulation of legal substance model (3) the transitioning model, and (4) the traditional model. Each of these highlights a dominant perspective but does not necessarily exclude all other characteristics. The countries that have adopted model 1, focus their attention on illicit substances and give considerable weight to harm-reduction policies. These countries have also all taken the controversial route of decriminalizing possession of illegal drugs. Model 2 focuses on evidence-based regulation of tobacco and alcohol, aiming to reduce consumption, prevent heavy usage and improve the overall well-being of the population. Model 3 is characterized by more emphasis on disease and safety strategy, but the countries tend to be moving more towards regulation as it is practiced in models 1 and 2. Model 4 consists of countries that have either recently joined the EU or are entry points for smuggling to Europe. These countries focus their efforts mainly on reducing supplies. The models are not ranked or judged, but rather explained in detail and put into perspective.     

In sum, this book offers a wide-ranging overview of the governance of addiction as it is practiced in Europe. It offers a wealth of information and ideas for policy-makers, academics and public-health professionals. 

A note on the forthcoming volume “Romanian – Moroccan Forms of Manifestation in the European Space”

 

 

 

Both Romanian and Moroccan spaces resonate in an un-syncopated way, after more than half a century’s worth of diplomatic relations; as for the political, touristic and economic (inter)related connections, these are considered, without reservation, excellent (both by bilateral factors and at the level of international organisms – a reality confirmed by their Excellencies Ambassador Simona Corlan Ioan and Ambassador Faouz El Achchabi, and expressed as such in their Conference locutions).

 

Stimulating a re-appraisal of tradition and intensifying the political dialogue, with the explicit intention of amplifying economic-cultural ratios (with superior valences conferred by the position both states are assuming inside their respective regions: Romania, as member of the European Union, and the Kingdom of Morocco, as an EU privileged partner) is underlined by the exemplary status of architectural formulas describing an interchanging place/circulatory space (culturally-economic or politically-diplomatic).

 

All these aspects are offering a propensity for axial coordinates of European-ism and European(ity), while at the same time proposing solutions, openings and innovative strategies.

 

In this spiral one cannot ignore the even episodic-concerted action of (re)affirming multiculturalism and multilingualism, still maintained as an ego-political reality. Symbolic elements are reloaded and re-integrated by the “Maalouf Commission” amongst whose artisans one can recognize, as an inspiring/counseling factor of European strategy, both the political man, and the writer/artist/ cultural man as such.

Hence the non-incidental option, which banks upon political and cultural-artistic templates of manifestation inside European space, as a complementary mod(ality) of translating of/by texts/studies/interventions/ presentations (or virtual ones) which use both English language as a synchronizing formula for/in the idiomatic mode of global(izing) research, and French language, as a chance for harmonizing intercultural horizons/spaces.

 

Re-anchored inside European space, the conference’s main objective was to establish the tension impact of space upon place, received and interpreted as a complex and complete occurrence, propagated from/within (remnant) inherited connections, easy to understand through an acceptance of modernity’s crisis symptoms, manifested both inside the hard bench-marks of space and/in geography’s relativistic capacity to offering re-vitalize/recompose itself.

 

The interventions proposed an elucidation of the term space, perceived as an abstract entity (acknowledging variables in distance, direction, size, form, volume) detached from any material form/formula or cultural interpretation; and of the concept of place, seen as a space vector for unique assemblies of things, meanings, values, practices, people, objects and representations.

 

Connected to these constantly confirmed and affirmed ideas, the conference both illustrated and offered arguments for the same problems which diplomacy reiterates as an essential(izing) score recaptured in/through political stability- favorable climate- belonging to the Francophone space – by re-evaluating through actualization and/or data adjustment historically-verified elements/effects; a clarifying space/place relationship accenting political forms of manifestation within European space and cultural-artistic experiences/experiments.

 

The tri-phased arguments supporting the theme/texture of certain panels take into account the fact that Romanian – Moroccan relations can (also) offer a circuit/alternative for solving implicit spikes/pulses of the European crisis.

 

Interventions by Professors and Researchers – Ian Browne, François Bréda, Ana Maria Negoita, Abdelmjid Kettioui implicitly clarify the terminology of tradition as mode of constructing identities, where the locale is accepted/perceived as both an accompanying state and a possibility of transcending space, as a synapse through which Eliza Raduca comments upon the resonating mode status of place in/at Francophone space.

 

The analysis is completed by studies which narrow the modes of construction for place/space, accenting significances expressed by explanatory/clarifying terms of societas/ communitas architecture with reflections in concepts such as faith, myth, time, identity, urbanization or international community.

 

With the absolutely necessary mention that the multi-focal method was applied/approved in its entirety during the present endeavor – either by the approach, trans-focalization or even the apparent detachment needed for a (re)placing of the proposed themes within context – through a mechanism of relating.

 

Romania and Morocco maintain a common place of contacts and periodical-institutional meetings, specific for political-diplomatic relationships situated within traditional lines and continuously confirming their given title of best connections.

 

The specific subject was presented using both geo-political and geo-poetical instruments, by Researchers such as Željko Mirkov, Lucian Jora, Adina Burchiu, Cristina Arvatu Vohn, Henrieta Serban, Abdelaziz El Amrani, Marouane Zakhir, Layachi El Habbouch or Monaim El Azzouzi, who suggest new harmonizing perspectives while noting that such an approach repositions both Romania and Morocco within a place resonating with European space, with its stages and layers accepting of inventories/ shelved materials which can be used as reference points/strategies and intersecting modes, and also as political and cultural-diplomatic instances.

 

A space of experiments and Romanian – Moroccan cultural-artistic experiences resonates with a certain periodicity and accepts traditions which, reclaiming their perennial values from the directions traced by the Governmental Agreement for Cultural Collaboration (1969) is stimulated by new opinions, perspectives and approaches.

 

This sequencing only confirms that the angle of investigation/research is imposed by dynamic space bolsters, and impossible to separate from post-modern globalizing tendencies as translated in a new reading of Mohammed Al-Sadoun’s The Freedom Monument; unable not to maintain the relationship between images (Valentin Trifesco) – narrative/diarium/journey (Carmen Burcea) – or a symbology of the veil (Claudia Moscovici).

 

Such a dynamic ”trajectory” certifies all Michel Deguy-ian (Franta / România [France/ Romania], in Secolul 21, no. 1-6, 2009, pp. 316-318) assertions in the sense of a mediating association between two terms equally involved in a perspective-changing relationship (either volitional or involuntary, by referencing a changing World/Europe) and re-computing the horizon (with all its hesitatingly-skeptical or apocalyptic- favorable premonitions): the Romania-Morocco relationship positional handles any particularizing immediacy of an universally-mediated Europe.

 

On the basis of these opinions one can signal the tri-phase force effect already announced, with concluding notes in re-assessing a report which does not reclaim hierarchies and does not articulate the statute of any device.

 

Considering than any account implies a multiplication of dimensions accepting both essentialization and selection depending on certain intensified-effect building materials, any places of rest found when traveling through space determine their own transformation, by ensuring co-participation and offering a chance for an inventory of opportunities while at the same time indicating an act of establishment concerning their own selves (far from the traps of quantification or any pretensions of exhausting the theme).

 

Certainly, the Romanian – Moroccan project will be also materialized and finalized by the publication of a collective volume, thanks to the constantly-revived contact with a significantly-interesting part of the Moroccan scientific community (a relationship proved also by the presence of Moroccan community representatives in Romania during the Conference) with whom we have harmonically agreed upon inexhaustible thematic convergence nodes/places and kaleidoscopic formulas of attracting/bringing together subjects deploying from this common option.

 

Florian Vetsch (Tanger Trance, Bern, Sulgen, Zürich, 2010) geo-temporally comments upon the consequences of a tristesse européenne (in its nostalgia-filled, recovering mode) by appealing to a differentiated mode of partitioning time – the two-hour time-lag between Morocco and Europe. One can also consider a qsim – intensified relationship, in the sense in which any Moroccans doing business with Europe have to wake up very early in the summer, and presentified by the fact that, only in Tangier, ntina signifies an undifferentiated identity, in the sense of that societas/communitas; a cultural node, unraveled by the great story-teller Jilala- Mohammed Mrabet, whose identity was doubted by Tahar Ben Jelloun who considered him to be just a Bowles-ian fiction. Inside amplified/accompanying space considered to be the opening place of the book Sacred Night by Tahar Ben Jelloun (Noaptea sacra [The Sacred Night], Art Publishing House, Bucharest, 2008), the state of the place chapter traces, inside the commenced and abandoned story, a sliding state for a storyteller devoid of memory (but not of imagination) as a builder of central point’s aiming towards complete possession of the market, in the sense in which no one was allowed to leave Bushaib´s circle. The annotated place in the perspective of an apparently closed circle suffers from the immobile equivalents of a space where nothing changes, and everything stays (remains) as it was first created, being subjected only to outside assault, as a competitive chance of both meeting and conflict. “I had reached Marrakesh the previous night, determined to meet the storyteller who had been bankrupted by telling my story”.

 

Both the conference and the on-publishing volume aim to be an (inter)relational approach-investigation of the idea that place and space adjusting re-compute time, with harmonizing identities impossible to separate from the narrative formulations which exist and relate themselves to each other.

 

Transposed in the spirit of the common Romanian – Moroccan archi-text, within the score of multiculturalism and multilingualism (an objective achieved also through the implication of the Center for Philological and Intercultural Research of the Letters and Arts Faculty, “Lucian Blaga” University- Sibiu, through its director, Gheorghe Manolache) one can agree upon our collective involvement in launching a common idiom which propagates the idea that everyone has the possibility of acceding to the three dimensions of communication, through language: autochthonous (maternal), allogenous (paternal) and the third, as complementary as an European-izing intersection.

 

In the act of initiation, Christopher Columbus was showing his Master the Sea, which included the Earth from a Pole to another, the boundless space, the one which once was the Garden of the Hesperides. A possible compass would indicate the extreme Western of the Mediterranean Sea, in the nearby paternity of Atlas Mountains, maybe in Tangier, to the edge of the Ocean: it is a tempting invitation (operated both by the conference and volume) to sail into a space where apples of immortality are still growing!

 

 

ACKNOWDLEGMENTS:

* The present material is organized as an introduction to the forthcoming volume including the interventions presented at the International Conference “Romanian – Moroccan Forms of Manifestation in the European Space, organized by the Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations, Romanian Academy, Bucharest, 9-10 April 2014.

 

**As a director of the project and coordinator of the volume, I would like to address with deference, my gratitude for all the support to Professor and Researcher, Director of the Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations, Dan Dungaciu and to Historian and Researcher, Stelian Neagoe. Also my truly thanks for their effort, work and constant collaboration to Researcher Ana Maria Negoita and to Researcher and Translator Ian Browne. I would like also to mention the effective help and effort of Daniela Paul and Emilian Popa.

Viorella Manolache (ed.), Centru si margine la Marea Mediterana. Filosofie politica si realitate internationala (Bucharest: Editura ISPRI, 2009)

This journal has proven a wide opening to a great diversity of recurrent themes present now within political sciences. Certain “marginal” areas of interdisciplinary investigation are also present, included in this same broad philosophical view. The volume maintains precisely this type of innovative ambitions and the manner of relating to contemporary tendencies as the journal, hence approaching through its several original studies select newer theoretical concepts adequate to the complexities associated with the research of the chosen theme. These studies are coming from different scientific areas. Estimating the present geo-political research of the Mediterranean community, it endeavours to enter into a dialogue within the Mediterranean scientific community. Center-Margin at the Mediterranean Sea (Political Philosophy and International Reality) accesses scientific contributions from seven countries (Romania, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Brazil, USA, Italy) providing a rich mix of theoretical and philosophical comparative, international and transnational issues, addressed to all who are interested in the contemporary political Mediterranean phenomena. The three constant investigated dimensions are placed into a dynamic formula described by the three parts of the volume: Political philosophy of Mediterranean Centre and Margin; Cultural approaches on the Mediterranean Margin and International Reality at the Mediterranean Sea.

 

The volume is integrated within a theoretical landscape and is justified by the anticipative answer offered by the authors to a series of variables with which the imperative of the current European politics operates, of the “maps projecting the macro regions” – a decentralized space of cooperation. The volume anticipates the conclusions of the European Council (June 24, 2011) which counts especially on the coincidence of culture and creative industries, on the capitalization of historical, linguistic and, in general, cultural diversity, and also on the application of a macro-regional strategy. All these dimensions illustrate the potential of catalyst of the “Union for the Mediterranean area”.

 

The volume’s approach indicates significant insights, pre-figurations of the European imperatives correlated with the analysed theme, with a double effect: the analysis of the international implications of the Mediterranean space and of the considerations concerning soft power; and a withdrawal within the philosophical, theoretical and political framework that configure the dimensions of this profile. The approach is explained in the introductory chapter – Political Philosophy of Mediterranean Centre and Margin.

 

According to Abderrazzak Essrhir, the idea of the centre is the indicative of the systematic invention of a peripheral space – racial, geographical, religious, cultural – resulting in a binary opposition that is the outcome of reciprocal experiences between the centre and its assumed periphery. It is in this very context that the relations between the East and the West can rightly be appreciated to have always been conducted, marked by conquest, demystification, subjection, or colonial confinement. The centre assumes in this perspective a position wherein it perceives itself as the nucleus of authority and power, the source of emanation of knowledge, the cradle of high culture and civilisation. The margin, as a consequence, turns out to be a mere indication of that “positioning is best defined in terms of the limitations of a subject’s access to power.” It is, in this respect, perceived, and indeed made to be, as the consumer, the dependent, the subaltern, or the anarchic space. This type of centre-margin binary opposition is multi-dimensional in the sense that the centre, conscious of its identity, systematically locates and confines its margin by devising a set of strategic practices such as othering, ethnic categorisation, subjugation, and discrimination (Abderrazzak Essrhir).

 

For Abdenbi Sarroukh, the question that arises is whether the new U.N partnership will contribute to the blossoming of at least a positive Mediterranean pluralism that goes beyond the borders of the nationalism that is still recast in ethnic identities, so as to reshape them to conform to the new cultural exigencies. The author refers to the universal values that tend to homogenise specificities and the spirit of communities that are irreducible and resist being explained away by the power of discourse from the point of view of the dominating centre.

 

The historical registration appears as architecture and even as a film of the Mediterranean space diving into the discourse of postmodernity as post-tradition, either rebuilding the cultural referential of the marginal discourse of the Mediterranean space – a system of indexes, emblems, constituents of a typical language that asks for deciphering, first and foremost politically speaking, in order to deserve to be termed of a Mediterranean polis  (Viorella Manolache), or the investigation of the communicational ethical and political implications of this fascination of the interlocutor via Richard Rorty, Jean Baudrillard or Simon Critchley (Henrieta ?erban).

 

The chapter Cultural Approaches on the Mediterranean Margin reaffirms the dependence of the imaginary on the mise-en-place of a very special Mediterranean syntax. The relationships between the “full and signifying forms” and the “determinations” of symbolical images, conferring them a “particularizing function” are emphasized (Gheorghe Manolache), within an analysis that employs essential (proto)types (present in the works of Eugen Lovinescu, Anton Naum – e.g. the Don Juanic character, Ulysses –, or Vasco da Gama). These profiles express the metaphoric idea that the waters of the Mediterranean space have a vocation of refrain: they are always the ones which bring boats, and invite the analyst to imagine Ulysses abandoned on the rocky shores of Portugal in distress; one sees Vasco da Gama directing his ships and people on the warm and quiet waters of the Mediterranean Sea, with an impact on the symbolic-cultural map of the countries washed by the Mediterranean waters. What remains behind is precisely what should happen: a silent revolt of the water and then, the numerous endless tides, the tides which charmed the sovereigns and awarded gold and glory, the waters of the bereaved bride named melancholy (Diana Adamek).

 

The philosophical and metaphorical level is completed by a more investigative and practical level in International Reality at the Mediterranean Sea that assesses the Mediterranean space as one of the important geopolitical and geostrategic pivots in world history. The geopolitical and geostrategic significance of the Mediterranean realm is not quite constant along the entire history of the region. For a while, the geopolitical and geostrategic significance of the Mediterranean decreased, because the “center” of the world gradually glided to the Atlantic. But, starting with the opening stages of the Cold War, the geostrategic importance of the Mediterranean realm grew again, a trend which is still maintained to a certain extent nowadays as well, in the context of the so-called ‘clash of civilizations’ and of the global war against terror. Other important events, connected with the war in the Caucasus region, prove again – similarly to the era of the Cold War – how important is for the West to control the Mediterranean Sea, and how ambitious post-communist Russia already is on the international arena (Florin Diaconu).

 

In this analytical key, the international realities operating in the Mediterranean space raise the question of how culture and identity contribute to the lasting peace, facing the geopolitical context and the efforts of a generation of intellectuals who have implemented this idea by building a unique and successful structure such as the European Union. It is thus important to examine the possibility of designing a community of security in the Mediterranean region through economic growth, with the contribution of this regional culture, without which any construction will be only short-lived and deprived of depth (Lucian Jora).

 

Beyond this snapshot of the main dimensions of the volume Center-Margin at the Mediterranean Sea (Political Philosophy and International Reality), one can easily identify the need to re-evaluate in a more complex light the Mediterranean space, accepting a cultural and reconciliatory mental map – a matrix where the Mediterranean space does not cease to provide to an equal extent, both philosophies and realities.