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Visit from Hungarian Ambassador, His Excellency Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky & TALK: In the Spirit of Rubik’s Cube – Hungary’s Smart Transition to a Knowledge Based Economy, Cardiff University School of Business, 23.11.18

His Excellency, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, is the ambassador to the court of St James. His background is in finance, industry, publishing, armed forces and politics. His hobbies include polo, showjumping, shooting and sailing. Kristóf was pleased with the attendance of his lecture. He enjoyed the fact that so many people had gathered to hear about his ‘strange little country’. Hungary covers 93000 square kilometres and has a population of 10 million which when you include the diaspora of Hungarians living abroad in neighbouring countries, reaches 15 million. In Hungary they are concerned for their survival. Hungarians are non-Slavic, non-Germanic and non-Latin. Their language is a secret code, although increasingly in his travels across Britain, Kristóf is always meeting fellow Hungarians, be it in hotels or posh private clubs. Hungary is in a strategic location. There are opportunities and advantages in this location but equally it can be like sleeping next to a motorway. The Magyars originally invaded, coming from the East on horseback in the 800s around the time of the Vikings. Mongols and Ottomans were camped out on their doorstep and Hungary has only recently shaken the yolk of occupation from the Soviet Union. In modern times Hungary is at a commercial crossroads and it benefits from being central to the energy pipelines running across from Russia into Europe. In 2010 a new government came into power and it is this government’s mission to focus on economic stability. In 2010 it was indebted 86% of GDP and had to be bailed out by the IMF. This figure is now 73% and dropping. 12% unemployment has, by publics works schemes, dropped to an excellent figure of 3.6%. There had been stagnant economic growth but now, for the last quarter this year, growth is at 5%. There is comfortable regular growth of 3.6%, 3.8% and 4%. Corporation tax has been increased and there is a policy of strict financial vigour. The Maastrict criteria has been fulfilled although the government do not wish to currently take on the Euro. There has been a change in the tax system with a revolutionary flat tax system being introduced. Income tax is fixed at a universal 15% and corporation tax is at 9%. VAT is 0% for food and 27% for luxury goods. The economy is now more sustainable and stronger. A new ministry has been created of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Hungary is looking…

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Contemporary Francophone “Afropean” Writers: From Francophonie to the Banlieue – Christopher Hogarth. School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia – Cardiff University MLANG 21.11.18

“Afropean” is a term that has its origins with David Byrne, the Talking Heads front man. It was used to describe a music fusion. Silvia Brancato on “Afro-European Literature” as “New Discursive Category”. This talks of the “Reciprocal embeddedness” of Africa and Europe. “Afropean narratives reveal a Europe which has always been transcultural.” (2011) Francophone Cameroonian novelist Léonora Miano, Afropean Soul. Multiple Belongings vs Republican Frenchness. Popularity of spaces of multiple belonging, especially in African context. Artificial nature of European-created nation-states in Africa (imagined in Berlin in 1884) and the history of inter-ethnicity there. Nature of contemporary European Union with the movement and employment opportunities. In France the notion of multiple or hyphenated identities is rarely discussed. In France there is no social vocabulary to designate descendants of postcolonial immigrants. Postcolonial vs Francophonie in academic criticism “Littérature française” shelved separately from “littérature étrangère” “Littérature francophone” now includes Francophone authors from all backgrounds. These backgrounds include authors from postcolonial France and Francophone writers. Limited identification in the public sphere which in turn influences everything from popular media to academic work in France. Some social scientists use ‘issu(e)(s) de la diversité’, but also an umbrella term Looking at texts in Liverpool University Press on Francophone Afropean literatures: Authors were born and spent significant portions of their childhood in Africa. African culture whose education system was heavily influenced by France. Exception: N’Sondé as a post-migratory Afropean. Work focuses on geography of French banlieues. Quite different from cosmopolitan authors such as Mabanckou and Miano. Post-migratory Afropeans. 2nd and 3rd generation authors with postcolonial heritage can be seen as “post-migratory” artists. They have stronger links to France than the African continent. Criticisms include: “Afro descendance” and “Double exclusion”? Post-migratory Afropeans – Borderless and brazen? They do not enjoy the same international acclaim as cosmopolitan figures. eg. Mabonckou’s publicity machine. Popularisation of post-migratory Afropeans – they publish with smaller, specialist publishing houses. There is an importance of transmediality – Slam poetry, rap, CD ROMs, CDs. They have prefaces written by more famous scholars and stars eg. Lilian Thuram. Reading as a duty towards “social justice”. Representations of mobility across Afropean texts. Most works are stuck in Europe, in cities, in suburbs, with little chance of escape. There is a wide variety of ethnicities and experiences. Focus on marginalisation, economic problems, violence, struggle to escape through sport and education. Emphasis on lack of mobility to which some…

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‘A Tribute To Venezuela’ at Kapu, Cardiff, 14.11.18

Once the richest country in Latin America, Venezuela is now broke thanks to the collapse of the oil industry and general mismanagement of the economy. For the last 6 years people has been starving, Caracas has been the most violent city in the world and the government has been focusing on changing the constitution to give itself more power rather than focusing on its population’s well-being. The Latin American Society invites you this next Wednesday November 14th from 6 to 10 pm at KapuCardiff to honour the Venezuelan people that lives in Cardiff and its surroundings with a social night. A talk by Dr. Joey Whitfield related to social-political shifts in Latin America over the years, Venezuelan music, traditional food sell by The Queen Pepiada • Original Venezuelan food and Canaima Coffee and a discussion forum with Venezuelan people living in the UK sharing their personal experiences and beliefs regarding this humanitarian crisis. We have conjoined efforts with Unicef on Campus Cardiff University, Cardiff Volunteering and Made in Venezuela Stroud to raise funds for “Barriguita Llena” campaign that collects funding for the people with major need in Venezuela, such as the elder, the children and people living on the rural places. Bring any donation in cash you may like to contribute with as we are going to collect some fundings that day. Come, have a drink and listen to first-hand experiences told by Venezuelans. Being aware of what is happening in Latin America is the first step to drive change.   When I walked through the doors of Kapu nightclub in St Marys Street to attend this Venezuela night I couldn’t at first believe the size of the audience. The club was packed with a vibrant healthy assortment of mostly Latin Americans with plenty of authentic Venezuelan ex-pats. I took up a seat next to my university friend and for the first two hours of the night we were graced with three lectures followed by a group debate / discussion. Dr Joey Whitfield – International Solidarity and the Decline of the Pink Tide Joey, a lecturer in Cardiff University, opened proceedings with a more general look at the politics of the Latin America region. Hugo Chavez was the extreme socialist leader that was elected into power in Venezuela in 1999. Chavez, who aligned himself closely with the communist Fidel Castro régime in Cuba, was not alone in being a left wing Latin American leader. A pink tide engulfed the region with…

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The Invisible Line of Migration – A Conversation with Multi-Award Winning Photo-Journalist Danilo Balducci, Cardiff University 04.10.18

La Linea Invisibile is a discussion by guest speaker Danilo Balducci which brings together the Translation, Adaptation and Performance, Picturing Others, and Conflict, Development and Disaster research themes at the School of Modern Languages. This lecture was broken up into 3 separate video displays of Danilo’s work. The above video is available on youtube and is the first in the series of photo presentations that we watched. Most of it is in Lesbos although some of the migrants were in Calais. Danilo travelled with migrants from Rome to Germany, very often fleeing the police alongside them. He continued to work on the situation in Italy which was a dramatic situation. In 2015 and 2016 the Balkan route was picking up and he followed this. In Lesbos the numbers were immense with 1000s gathering there. By travelling with migrants Danilo produced photography that wasn’t sterile. He was pulling people out of the sea, crossing rivers and crossing mountains. He made connections with people that he still maintains. On occasion the camera had to stay put where Danilo made the decision not to take pictures. For example when a woman was giving birth on the shore, he felt that it was too intimate a moment. However, there were some controversial images that he felt he needed to take. The dead young girl which was just a string of 14 dead migrants found that day, illustrates how difficult the migration passage could be. The problem with these deaths was that they were selling fake life jackets. They were full of absorbent material and had no buoyancy. Those who had money could buy authentic, proper ones. These deaths were the result of human, criminal folly. With regard to photography, it’s not about technique but more about empathy. It’s the ability to connect with people and to have boundaries. If somebody says: “Please do not take a picture” you must respect that.In a camp of 12000 people there can be much crying and screaming in distress. This affects you and Danilo found that he required psychological treatment. He recorded the sounds of the camps on his phone – he even captured the shots – the rubber bullets that were fired. The bloody face in the photographs comes from the shootings. On one day alone, 160 tear gas canisters were fired. They were Soviet-era Russian canisters that were out of date. Danilo had no gas mask and…

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The Cultural Politics of the ‘War on Drugs’ in Latin America: Prohibition and Beyond? – By Dr Joey Whitfield, Cardiff University, 22.11.17

Dr Joey Whitfield is a Research Fellow and member of the Spanish department at Cardiff University. He has a forthcoming book (available on Amazon) titled Prison Writing of Latin America https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prison-Writing-Latin-America-Whitfield/dp/150133462X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512133181&sr=8-1&keywords=prison+writing+of+latin+america The book details his study of prison writing from the 1910s to the present day. His interest in the War on Drugs springs from this extensive research where he has explored the creative output of prisoners. His work leads him to conclude that there is not so clear a distinction in Latin American jails between political prisoners and criminal prisoners.. Similarly in Latin America, politically, there is not a great deal of difference between democracies and dictatorships. One of the groups he has investigated is the Red Command – from Rio De Janeiro – who are a trafficking gang. There has been a decline if the role of the Urban Guerrilla in Latin America. There have been repressive regimes that are dictatorial. Eg. The government of Brazil during the 1980s The same repressive apparatus that has been used against urban guerrillas is now being used on drug cartels. As the Cold War ended across Latin America the political conflicts gave way to the ‘War on Drugs’. A new class of political prisoner has emerged. US President Ronald Reagan followed on from Nixon’s 1971 declaration of the ‘War on Drugs’. Aid payments to Latin American governments required a certification procedure that these governments were fighting this war appropriately. Often this led to high-profile arrests of cartel leaders in an attempt to justify the aid payments. Also, often there would be swoops upon the easiest people to arrest in the industry. The ‘War on Drugs’ has been completely lost. It is, in essence, impossible to win. It can be dealt with through legislation. The myth that drugs only involve hippies is incorrect. There are global groups that specialize in narco-policy. Leading figures such as Carlo Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa and Kofi Annan, Nick Clegg and former Latin American presidents, César Gaviria (Colombia) and Vicente Fox (underwent a terrible phase of presidency in Mexico during the War on Drugs), all of these figures are advocates of legalisation of drugs as being the key solution to the global crisis. However, all of the important political figures in this list are no longer in power. It is a matter of Realpolitik. It is impossible to countenance wide scale legalisation in order to end violence…

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World Talk Series – Cardiff University MLANG – Oh Lord, Emmanuel – Macron’s Fall From Grace? By Dr Nick Parsons – 25/10/2017

  Delivered by experts from Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages, the World Talk Lecture Series is a new series of talks on topics of current interest in various countries around the world.   Dr Nick Parsons – Biography Nick Parsons completed his PhD, comparing French and British industrial relations, at the London School of Economics. After teaching positions in several French and British universities, he joined the French Department in the University of Cardiff in 1991. He is now Reader in French and teaches courses on translation, French politics and the French labour movement. His research interests focus on French and European politics, industrial relations and social policy. He has published many book chapters and journal articles on these issues and is the author of French Industrial Relations in the New World Economy among other titles.   Abstract: In May 2017, Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential elections with a large majority over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen, and his La République en Marche party followed this by securing a large majority in the French parliament. At the time, he was hailed as the saviour of France, and potentially of a Europe confronted with right-wing populism. Just a few months later, however, his popularity has dwindled and he is facing street protests. How can this be explained and what does it mean for his project to reform France and Europe?   Dr Nick Parsons began his talk with an introduction to French President Emmanuel Macron. He said that he just didn’t know what was going to happen to him. Academics find it difficult to predict the future. He cannot understand why the change in French Labour laws has not led to greater strike action as of yet. Macron has a sort of self-projection – He likens himself to some kind of God. Hence the title of the lecture. It is strange to see why somebody who came to power on a wave of adulation should find himself so low in opinion polls. Macron is only 39 years old and entered the Presidential race late on and managed to secure a landslide victory in Parliament. Macron’s victory in 2017 saw him defeat Marine Le Pen in the second round of Presidential elections, winning 66% of the vote. In Parliamentary elections his Party – La République En Marche (LREM) gained an absolute majority in the National Assembly with 308 of…

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