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Why has bidet use not spread to the northern countries of Europe?

Why has bidet use not spread to the northern countries of Europe?

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As wikipedia states, the bidet is quite common in southern European countries (in Italy for example, it is found in 95% of households), in the Middle East and in East Asia. Conversely, bidets are quite rare in Northern Europe. Why the discrepancy in usage?

The Countries Of Northern Europe

Although the definitions of the extent of Northern Europe vary, as per the United Nations geoscheme for Europe, Northern Europe comprises of 10 sovereign nations. These countries can be divided into three regions: Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Baltic region.

A map showing the countries of Northern Europe marked in blue and the rest of Europe in green.

Here are the ten countries that make up Northern Europe:

Impact of the Protestant Reformation

The Reformation was a religious movement in the 16th century that resulted in the theological divide between Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Learning Objectives

Describe the Protestant Reformation and its effects on Western European art of the 16th century

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Art that portrayed religious figures or scenes followed Protestant theology by depicting people and stories accurately and clearly and emphasized salvation through divine grace, rather than through personal deeds, or by intervention of church bureaucracy.
  • Reformation art embraced Protestant values , although the amount of religious art produced in Protestant countries was hugely reduced. Instead, many artists in Protestant countries diversified into secular forms of art like history painting , landscapes, portraiture, and still life .
  • The Protestant Reformation induced a wave of iconoclasm , or the destruction of religious imagery , among the more radical evangelists.

Key Terms

  • Protestant Reformation: The 16th century schism within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other early Protestants characterized by the objection to the doctrines, rituals, and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church and led to the creation of Protestant churches, which were outside of the control of the Vatican.
  • iconoclasm: The belief in, participation in, or sanction of destroying religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives.

The Protestant Reformation and Art

The Protestant Reformation was a religious movement that occurred in Western Europe during the 16th century that resulted in the theological divide between Roman Catholics and Protestants. This movement created a North-South split in Europe, where generally Northern countries became Protestant, while Southern countries remained Catholic. Protestant theology centered on the individual relationship between the worshiper and the divine, and accordingly, the Reformation’s artistic movement focused on the individual’s personal relationship with God. This was reflected in a number of common people and day-to-day scenes depicted in art.

The Reformation ushered in a new artistic tradition that highlighted the Protestant belief system and diverged drastically from southern European humanist art produced during the High Renaissance . Reformation art embraced Protestant values, although the amount of religious art produced in Protestant countries was hugely reduced (largely because a huge patron for the arts—the Catholic Church—was no longer active in these countries). Instead, many artists in Protestant countries diversified into secular forms of art like history painting, landscapes, portraiture, and still life.

Art that portrayed religious figures or scenes followed Protestant theology by depicting people and stories accurately and clearly and emphasized salvation through divine grace, rather than through personal deeds, or by intervention of church bureaucracy. This is the direct influence of one major criticism of the Catholic Church during the Reformation—that painters created biblical scenes that strayed from their true story, were hard to identify, and were embellished with painterly effects instead of focusing on the theological message. In terms of subject matter, iconic images of Christ and scenes from the Passion became less frequent, as did portrayals of the saints and clergy. Instead, narrative scenes from the Bible and moralistic depictions of modern life became prevalent.

The Protestant Reformation also capitalized on the popularity of printmaking in northern Europe. Printmaking allowed images to be mass produced and widely available to the public at low cost. The Protestant church was therefore able to bring their theology to the people through portable, inexpensive visual media . This allowed for the widespread availability of visually persuasive imagery. With the great development of the engraving and printmaking market in Antwerp in the 16th century, the public was provided with accessible and affordable images. Many artists provided drawings to book and print publishers.

Iconoclasm and Resistance to Idolatry

All forms of Protestantism showed a degree of hostility to religious images, especially sculpture and large paintings, considering them forms of idol worship. After the early years of the Reformation, artists in Protestant areas painted far fewer religious subjects for public display, partly because religious art had long been associated with the Catholic Church. Although, there was a conscious effort to develop a Protestant iconography of Bible images in book illustrations and prints. During the early Reformation, some artists made paintings for churches that depicted the leaders of the Reformation in ways very similar to Catholic saints. Later, Protestant taste turned away from the display of religious scenes in churches, although some continued to be displayed in homes.

There was also a reaction against images from classical mythology, the other manifestation of the High Renaissance at the time. This brought about a style that was more directly related to accurately portraying the present times. For example, Bruegel’s Wedding Feast portrays a Flemish-peasant wedding dinner in a barn. It makes no reference to any religious, historical, or classical events, and merely gives insight into the everyday life of the Flemish peasant.

Bruegel’s Peasant Wedding: Bruegael’s Peasant Wedding is a painting that captures the Protestant Reformation artistic tradition: focusing on scenes from modern life rather than religious or classical themes.

The Protestant Reformation induced a wave of iconoclasm, or the destruction of religious imagery, among the more radical evangelists. Protestant leaders, especially Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin, actively eliminated imagery from their churches and regarded the great majority of religious images as idolatrous—even plain crosses. On the other hand, Martin Luther encouraged the display of a restricted range of religious imagery in churches. For the most part, however, Reformation iconoclasm resulted in a disappearance of religious figurative art, compared with the amount of secular pieces that emerged.

Iconoclasm: Catholic Altar Piece: Altar piece in St. Martin’s Cathedral, Utrecht, attacked in the Protestant iconoclasm in 1572. This retable became visible again after restoration in 1919 removed the false wall placed in front of it.

Why is Ireland the most anti-Israel country in Europe?

(February 6, 2018 / JNS) The Irish and Jewish people share a common history of suffering cruel persecution and achieving national redemption against immeasurable odds. But today, modern Ireland is one of Europe’s fiercest critics of Israel. This tension was on display last week as the Irish Senate was considering legislation aimed at criminalizing trade with Israeli settlements.

The legislation, titled “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018,” calls to “prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories,” according to Sen. Frances Black, the bill’s sponsor.

While the vote on the legislation was eventually postponed, many in Israel saw it as another example of the growing effort in Europe to single out and boycott the Jewish state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that the legislation’s “sole purpose is to support the BDS movement and harm the State of Israel.”

The Israeli embassy in Ireland also denounced the bill, saying that it “only offers an incentive to those who wish to boycott Israel and stands in stark contrast to the guiding principles of free trade and justice.”

Orde Kittrie, a professor of law at Arizona State University and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS that the proposed legislation was clearly aimed at delegitimizing the state of Israel.

“On its face, the bill is about pressuring Israel to evacuate the West Bank and turn it over to Palestinian rule. However, as in so many cases of BDS, it appears the goal was at least also a broader one: to contribute to delegitimizing the state of Israel,” he said.

A spokesman for the Irish pro-Israel group Irish4Israel said that the bill was also backed by several anti-Israel NGOs, including Christian Aid and Trocaire, in addition to trade unions in Ireland.

“The bill was endorsed by trade unions and others, and had the support or many smaller parties. The motivation is a naive hope to show solidarity with the Palestinians,” said the spokesman.

Economic consequences

In the days leading up to the vote, a debate emerged in Ireland over impending economic consequences for the country if it went ahead with the legislation. Of particular concern was the possibility that the legislation could run afoul of both E.U. and U.S. law, potentially jeopardizing critical ties.

“This bill would make U.S. companies with subsidiaries in Ireland, Irish companies with subsidiaries in the U.S., and their employees who are Irish or resident in Ireland, choose between violating the Irish law or violating the U.S. Export Administration Regulations,” said Kittrie. “Violations of these U.S. antiboycott laws are punishable by fines and by imprisonment for up to 10 years.”

As such, in requesting the postponement of the vote on the bill, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney noted that the bill may violate an E.U. law that all members have a common commercial policy. Coveney also expressed concern that the bill would harm relations with Israel and thus Ireland’s ability to play a constructive role in the Middle East peace process.

Current E.U. law stipulates that Israeli products originating from beyond the pre-1967 lines cannot be labeled as “Made in Israel.” Israel considers the West Bank to be disputed territory, with borders to be determined in any peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Nevertheless, despite the delay and concerns, Kittrie believes that the bill will eventually pass, especially if the peace process continues to stall.

“Watching the debate in the Irish Senate, it appears that the majority of Irish Senators are far more sympathetic to the Palestinian perspective than the Israeli one,” he said.

“A version of the bill, presumably one revised to remove the conflict with E.U. law, seems likely to pass when it is voted upon in four or five months, unless there is significant progress on the peace process or the Irish Senate becomes more sympathetic to the Israeli perspective or the Irish Senate comes to better understand how the bill, if enacted, would gravely undermine Ireland’s economic links to the United States,” he said.

Irish-Israel relations

But how did the Irish, who like the Jewish people have also faced centuries of persecution, end up so sympathetic to the Palestinian cause?

Much of Ireland’s sympathies for the Palestinians appear to tie back into their own troubled history with the United Kingdom.

“The Irish see Israel as acting as the U.K. did when it occupied all of Ireland [until Irish independence in 1921] and Northern Ireland until the present day,” said Kittrie. “Specifically, they analogize Israel’s settlements in the West Bank to the Protestants from Great Britain who settled in Northern Ireland.”

Irish-Jewish relations haven’t always been this sour. In the early 20th century, many Irish leaders were sympathetic to the Jewish people, with the Irish drawing heavily on historical parallels with Jews, including their suffering, the large-scale migration of Irish in the 19th century and their upward struggle for national self-determination against the British.

But following Israel’s independence in 1948, Irish sympathies inexplicably shifted. The Irish no longer viewed Israel as the underdog struggling for national rights, but instead as a foreign occupier on someone else’s land—the Palestinians—similar to the Irish experience with British control over Northern Ireland.

Ireland did not extend recognition to Israel until 1963 and did not establish an embassy in Tel Aviv until 1996. Furthermore, Ireland was one of the first European countries to call for a Palestinian state in 1980 and has insistently focused on the Palestinian refugee issue.

Today, despite its subordinate position within the European Union behind such larger powers as France and Germany, Ireland has played an outsized role as a voice on matters concerning Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Last year, the Irish Parliament passed a symbolic resolution calling on the government to recognize Palestinian statehood. Ireland was also the first European country to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as well.

At the same time, the BDS (boycott, divestment sanction) movement in Ireland is viewed by many as some of the most powerful groups in Europe.

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), which has been at the forefront of anti-Israel sentiment in Israel, recently led to Israel banning some 20 activists associated with the Dublin-based group from entering the Jewish state as part of a recent “blacklist” by the Israeli government targeting anti-Israel BDS groups.

“It’s an Irish obsession to identify with the perceived underdog. It’s very disappointing and a complete distortion of the facts on the ground,” said the Irish4Israel spokesman. “If Israel wants to change the Irish mentality towards Israel, it needs to engage with Ireland more.”

Can Irish eyes smile on Israel?

However, one major looming challenge in engagement are recent reports that Israel is mulling closing down its embassy in Ireland as part of plans to shutter seven embassies worldwide due to budget concerns, Yediot Achronot reported.

Israel first opened its embassy in 1996—one of the last countries in the E.U. to have an Israeli embassy—after years of negotiations. Despite strained political relations since then, trade between Ireland and Israel has grown significantly as both countries have become global leaders in areas such as technology and pharmaceuticals. In 2016, Israel was Ireland’s 11th-largest export partner, with $1.63 billion.

Despite growing economic ties, Kittrie believes that Israel needs to improve its outreach to the Irish if the Jewish state hopes to improve relations with the country.

“Israel has a good story to tell. It needs to do a far better job of telling it to the Irish people,” he said.

“Watching the debate in the Irish Senate, one would think that the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is entirely the fault of Israel. That is just not true. I think education has a big role to play in improving relations between Ireland and Israel.”

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Transportation During the Industrial Revolution

Britain’s road network, which had been relatively primitive prior to industrialization, soon saw substantial improvements, and more than 2,000 miles of canals were in use across Britain by 1815.

In the early 1800s, Richard Trevithick debuted a steam-powered locomotive, and in 1830 similar locomotives started transporting freight (and passengers) between the industrial hubs of Manchester and Liverpool. By that time, steam-powered boats and ships were already in wide use, carrying goods along Britain’s rivers and canals as well as across the Atlantic.

The findings of the ONS show how a wider spread of infection, and less severe or timely measures to respond to it, are factors in the deaths of many thousands of people.

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England had the highest levels of excess mortality in Europe during the most crucial months of the Covid-19 pandemic so far, according to data released today.

A report by the Office for National Statistics compares the excess death figures across all European countries where data was available for the first half of 2020, and standardises the numbers to control for differences in population size and age structure. It finds that between 3 January and 12 June this year, England had the highest overall levels of excess mortality on the continent.

Excess deaths refer to the number of extra deaths above the expected level. This metric has been described by government scientists and ministers throughout the crisis as the most useful measure of comparison between countries, because Covid-19 death statistics are compiled using different methods and in some cases represent and incomplete picture.

England's excess mortality rate was 8 per cent higher than expected over the first half of 2020. This figure is higher than other countries because England’s disease curve lasted longer, with the death toll continuing to rise later into the year.

Spain had experienced a higher peak of excess mortality (139 per cent above baseline, compared to England’s 108 per cent peak). But Spain, Italy, and other countries were better at “flattening the curve” and bringing the death levels down.

The UK's higher mortality was also a result of the fact that the disease was not contained to a local area, as it was in Italy and Spain.

That finding chimes with the New Statesman’s own data analysis of the UK’s comparative performance, published as part of the Anatomy of a Crisis special edition, which found that the UK was slower to introduce lockdown and quicker to ease restrictions than other countries.

The chart below shows the relative excess death levels over time by country.


Like other foods in this group, the tomato came from South and Central America, and was taken to Europe. Eventually, it was introduced to the U.S. and Canada from Europe – not Mexico. Tomatoes were not a favorite early in their European history they were often confused with the poisonous nightshade plant. Actually, their leaves are poisonous, but the fruit is fine to eat.

The French called them the love apple or pomme d’ amour, Italians called them the golden apple or pomi d’oro. Names are always important. The botanists that named the tomato initially gave it a bad reputation. The misunderstandings were continued by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, and later by Carl Linnaeus who grouped tomatoes as “Wolf Peaches” because of their shape, and deemed them hallucinogenic, poisonous, or both.

Thomas Jefferson helped promote tomatoes by growing them at his home in Monticello, and used them in recipes with his family. Rumor has it that Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson ate a basket of tomatoes in front of his local courthouse in 1830, to show his audience that he wouldn’t die and foam at the mouth. But it was Joseph Campbell of Campbell’s Soup that pushed tomatoes to become part of the American diet. With seed catalogues and condensed tomato soup, people truly accepted the tomato and even began to love it for its variety of colors, health benefits, and flavors. You'll find several of this fruit's best health benefits when you cook it. Roasted tomato soup is a great place to start - especially in fall.

Compare and contrast spread of islam and spread of christianity

600 CE to 1250 CE—a time in which Islam’s golden age took place and, from a Eurocentric point of view, a time of Christian expansion and conversion—was a period of religious spread and expansion. While Islam was “spread by the sword” due to the military conquests and expansion of the Arab empire (which was predominantly Muslim), Christianity had no association with a specific race or group of peoples and therefore did not spread with the purpose of expanding an empire.

However, both Islam and Christianity spread through missionary work. After Muhammad’s death Islam spread rapidly under the first four caliphs through military conquest and the purpose of expanding the Arab empire. “The wars of expansion were also advanced by the devotion of the faithful to the concept of jihad.” (history-world.org, “Islam From the Beginning to 1300,” Peter N. Stearns, 2002) “Jihad” means “struggle in the way of God.”

In other words, “jihad” means “the struggle to convert.

” Through military conquest and expansion, the Muslims gained many converts in the newly conquered areas like the Byzantine province of Syria, Egypt, northern Africa, and even Spain. Muslims did not force conversion, but non-Muslims who refused to convert were taxed while converts were taxed less. This obviously led to many people converting because they didn’t want to pay the tax, but some conquered people converted to Islam not to escape tax but because they believed that since the Arabs were so successful in military conquest, Islam and their god must be legitimate. On the other hand, since Christians really had no association with a specific empire or race (like how the Arabs were specifically Muslim), Christianity didn’t spread the way the Muslim Arab empire did in terms of military conquest and war and the purpose of expanding an empire.

However, both Islam and Christianity spread in one similar way: missionary work. The Sufis, Islamic mystics, were very effective missionaries. Instead of a particular form of ritual that must be followed, Sufis stressed a personal relationship with God. Sufis gave followers a way to become one with Allah in their own unique or different way rather than doing the regular norm of a particular ritual. “By allowing, and even encouraging, followers to practice their own ways to revere Allah, and by tolerating others who placed Allah in the framework of other beliefs, the Sufis succeeded in converting large numbers of people to Islam.” (Armstrong, 136, Cracking the AP World History Exam 2011 Edition) The Sufis attracted many converts particularly in Persia and India. The Muslim missionaries had an advantage, using well-known and well-established trade routes to travel and spread Islam.

The Christians’ main way of spreading Christianity was through missionary work, starting with the monastic community. The practice of living the life of a monk, or a nun in some cases, is known as monasticism. Monks and nuns worked to spread Christianity to all of Europe. “English and Irish monks were very enthusiastic missionaries—people sent out to carry a religious message—who undertook the conversion of non-Christian peoples, especially in German lands.” (Spielvogel, 306, Glencoe World History) The missionaries provided a moral example to all converts and brought a message about Heaven, Hell, and the teachings of Christ to western Europe, especially Germany and the Netherlands. By 1050 most of western Europe had become Catholicized.

For the Arabs expansion of their empire and their effort to convert others to Islam came hand in hand while Christianity had no restriction to a certain nationality or empire, so Christianity did not spread like the “war and conquest” way of the Arab Muslims. The Arabs’ success in winning wars was used as an advantage to not only expand the empire but spread the Arab religion of Islam. However, both Islam and Christianity spread through the travels of missionaries. Islam, spreading through the missionary help of the Sufis, and Christianity, spreading through the missionary help of the monastic community, both have a long-lasting impact on today’s world and history.

Europe: Human Geography

Europe has a long history of human development and is considered the birthplace of Western Civilization.

Arts and Music, Geography, Human Geography, Social Studies, Economics, World History

Europe is the second-smallest continent. The name Europe, or Europa, is believed to be of Greek origin, as it is the name of a princess in Greek mythology. The name Europe may also come from combining the Greek roots eur- (wide) and -op (seeing) to form the phrase &ldquowide-gazing.&rdquo

Europe is often described as a &ldquopeninsula of peninsulas.&rdquo A peninsula is a piece of land surrounded by water on three sides. Europe is a peninsula of the Eurasian supercontinent and is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian seas to the south.

Europe&rsquos main peninsulas are the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan, located in southern Europe, and the Scandinavian and Jutland, located in northern Europe. The link between these peninsulas has made Europe a dominant economic, social, and cultural force throughout recorded history.

Today, Europe is home to the citizens of Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), and Vatican City.

Cultural Geography

Europe has a long history of human development and is considered the birthplace of Western Civilization. Today, this cultural wealth is used to solidify the European Community and is exported to the rest of the world as one of the continent&rsquos greatest global assets.

Historic Cultures
Indigenous cultures shaped, and were shaped by, the varied geography of Europe. Physical features, weather-related phenomena, and local resources had a deep impact on how historic European cultures prospered, interacted, and believed their world worked.

The geography and climate of the Mediterranean region, for example, directly influenced Greek mythology. Most Greek gods and goddesses are representations of the active physical elements that made up the local landscape. The volcanoes of Lemnos, an island in the Mediterranean, and Mount Etna, on the island of Sicily, were believed to be the forges of Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire. Ancient Greeks also believed reigning gods imprisoned lesser gods underneath the volcanoes. A volcano&rsquos violent nature thus came from the work of Hephaestus and the anger of the imprisoned gods.

The ancient Greeks&rsquo connection to the sea also deeply influenced their mythological beliefs. Greece&rsquos many earthquakes, and the tsunamis they caused, were connected to the sea god Poseidon, known as the &ldquoEarth Shaker.&rdquo Cults and temples centered on Poseidon were built throughout the Aegean and Mediterranean seas as a means of appeasing the god.

As maritime trade and exploration developed in the region, winds and currents connected to Poseidon became important in Greek mythology. The gods could both reward and punish travelers and traders with favorable or unfavorable sea conditions. This is a main theme of The Odyssey, an epic poem written by Homer, in which these key elements of the sea both help and hurt the hero.

Other cultures developed around the unique resources at their disposal. The Sami culture of Scandinavia, for example, was deeply connected to the indigenous reindeer herds of the Arctic. The Sami followed and cared for these herds during their grazing cycle. During the harsh winter, the Sami ate all parts of the animal. They created clothing and tents out of reindeer hides, sewing together the cloth with twine made from the animal&rsquos tendons.

Keeping track of herds and individual animals became increasingly important in Sami life. In order to distinguish herds, families and communities developed a pattern of cuts and notches on the animals&rsquo ears.

Reindeer were also the Sami&rsquos main method of transporting goods during their nomadic journeys. These journeys varied in length, depending on the migration patterns of specific reindeer herds. Some reindeer herds have a home range of up to 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square miles).

Reindeer herding is still an important aspect of Sami culture, which continues to thrive in northern Scandinavia and Russia&rsquos Kola Peninsula.

Distinct physical features had a lasting impact on how European cultures communicated with each other. With its central European location but geographic remoteness, the Alps region developed into a unique crossroads for Europe&rsquos dominant languages, and a refuge for its archaic languages. This linguistic diversity is present in the Alpine regions of many contemporary European countries today.

Switzerland, for example, has four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansch. During the Middle Ages, dominant European powers conquered the strategically important mountain territory of the Alps. Around 400 CE, the Alemanni, a Germanic tribe, invaded present-day northern Switzerland. Today, this is the German-speaking region of the country.

Around this same time, Roman conquerors took over present-day southern Switzerland. Latin, the language of Rome, evolved into French in the western region, and Italian in the south. Because of their remoteness, however, all these regions have distinct dialects that differ slightly from their parent language. Swiss-Italian is distinguishable from Italian.

Romansch, an endangered language, is also derived from Latin. Fewer than a million people are fluent in Romansch. The language survives in Switzerland because of the remote location of its native speakers.

Contemporary Cultures
Europe&rsquos rich and diverse cultural heritage continues to flourish today. With such a large number of nationalities compacted into such a small area, Europe strongly supports individual cultural identities and products.

The European Capitals of Culture program, started in 1985, has become one of Europe&rsquos most important and high-profile cultural events. The goals of the program are local, regional, and global. The program highlights Europe&rsquos rich cultural diversity, celebrates its cultural ties, and brings people of different European backgrounds together. The program has provided a lasting economic boost to cities and regions, raised their international profiles, and enhanced their images in the eyes of their own inhabitants.

Each year, two or three cities are chosen to produce a year-long program of cultural events. This program must not only highlight the city&rsquos unique cultural heritage, but also feature new events that unite a range of cultural practices from across Europe. All of the events must come together under a common theme or themes. One Capital of Culture of 2011, Turku, Finland, focused on culture&rsquos positive influence on health and well-being. Many of its events encouraged community involvement and civic engagement. Projects are meant to stay a part of the city after 2011&mdashsome pieces of sculpture may be used for athletics, for instance. Turku officials hope to inspire other European countries to undertake similar projects.

Europe also strengthens ties between its diverse peoples and cultures by supporting multilingual education. The European Union has 23 official languages, and the continent has more than 60 indigenous languages. Flourishing immigrant communities are bringing in new languages to the continent, including Arabic, Hindi, and Mandarin.

A 2006 European study showed that 53 percent of respondents could speak a second language, while 28 percent could speak two foreign languages. The study also showed that only 8 percent of respondents considered language-learning unimportant.

The European Union has adopted a multilingual language policy with the goal that everyone should be able to speak at least two languages in addition to their own. By supporting this policy, the European Union hopes it will strengthen social, educational, professional, and economic ties in Europe and make the continent more competitive in global markets.

Europe&rsquos cultural products also help unify the region. Certain countries and regions have even developed an identity or &ldquobranding&rdquo focused on specific products and exports.

Scandinavian design, for instance, is primarily focused on fashion and home wares. It is characterized by simple, minimalist design and low-cost mass production. Important Scandinavian companies focused on designed products include Electrolux, which makes home electronics, and Ikea and H&M, famous around the world for inexpensive but well-designed home furnishings and clothing, respectively.

Italian fashion is also an important cultural export. The city of Milan is regarded as a major fashion capital, hosting an international fashion week twice a year. The city is home to the headquarters of luxury brands such as Valentino, Gucci, Versace, and Prada. Milan is also home to important European fashion magazines, such as Grazia, Vogue Italia, and Vera.

German automotive design has a global reputation for excellence and prestige. Automobile companies such as BMW, Mercedes, and Audi are known throughout the world for creating cars with dynamic designs and an engaging driving experience. The country is also home to a number of outstanding schools for automotive design, such as the Hochschule Esslingen and Hochschule Pforzheim.

Political Geography

Europe&rsquos long history and economic progress have been shaped by its political geography. Political geography is the internal and external relationships between governments, citizens, and territories. Early Europeans, in fact, shaped global ideas of citizenship and government. These ideas have been tested during times of peace and military conflict, and continue to be redefined today.

Historic Issues
Europe&rsquos early political history can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, both of which profoundly affected how Western civilizations govern their territories and citizens.

Described as the birthplace of democracy, ancient Greece revolved around the polis, or city-state. City-states were unique in that they were governed not by a hereditary ruler, but by a political body that represented its citizens. This idea of citizenship&mdashof being connected to and having a voice in your community&mdashbecame the basic building block of democracy. The word &ldquodemocracy&rdquo has Greek roots: demos-, meaning &ldquopeople,&rdquo and -kratos, meaning &ldquopower.&rdquo Prominent Greek philosophers, such as Socrates and Plato, discussed democratic ideals in their writings. Philosophers and politicians have used these writings to uphold and defend the democratic tradition ever since.

Roman civilization had a major influence on Western concepts of law, government, and the military. At its largest, Rome controlled approximately 6.5 million square kilometers (2.5 million square miles) of land.

The Roman approach to conquering and controlling territory is often considered to be the basis of Western imperialism. Imperialism is a policy of extending a nation&rsquos power and influence through diplomacy or military force. Imperialism is a policy that has been used throughout history, most notably by European powers and the United States. Other political institutions of Rome persist throughout Europe and former European colonies. Some of these concepts include the idea of an elected Senate and the stationing of military troops outside a country&rsquos home region.

World War I and World War II dramatically affected the political geography of Europe. World War I (1914-1918) left about 16 million people dead. The Central Powers (led by the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire) fell to the forces of the Allied Powers (led by the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire). By the end of the war, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires collapsed and broke into a dozen separate nations. Borders between existing nations, such as Poland and Russia, were entirely redrawn.

World War II (1939-1945) left about 43 million Europeans dead, including about 6 million who died in the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the mass murder of Jews under the Nazi regime. World War II also left more than 40 million refugees, contributed to the independence of European colonies throughout the world, and devastated the urban infrastructure of many European cities.

As a result of the devastation of World War II, Western Europe&rsquos leadership in global politics diminished. The United States began to lead the Western world, while the Soviet Union, with its capital in the Eastern European city of Moscow, Russia, led the so-called Eastern Bloc. The relationship between the United States, with a free-market economy, and the Soviet Union, with a communist economy, was known as the Cold War.

The &ldquoIron Curtain&rdquo represents Europe&rsquos political geography during the Cold War. The Iron Curtain was an ideological boundary that divided Europe into two blocs&mdashWestern countries influenced by the United States, and Eastern countries influenced by the Soviet Union. International economic and military organizations developed on either side of the Iron Curtain. The United States and the Soviet Union built up huge nuclear arsenals, with many missiles aimed at targets throughout Europe.

The Iron Curtain took on the physical shape of border defenses, walls, and limited diplomacy. The nation of Germany was divided in two. In fact, the most famous symbol of the Iron Curtain was the Berlin Wall, which divided the East German city of Berlin into western and eastern-controlled parts.

The economic and political demise of the Soviet Union led to the end of the Iron Curtain in the late 1980s. During this time, a number of anti-communist revolutions swept central and eastern Europe. These revolutions eventually lead to the end of the Cold War, symbolized by the falling of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Contemporary Issues
Europe is now broadly defined in the context of the European Union (EU), an economic and political body officially created by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993. The EU works to create a unified structure for social, environmental, military, and economic policies of its member states.

Today, the European Union is composed of 27 member states, with new members mainly coming from central and eastern Europe. The financial and diplomatic success of the EU has led to its rapid growth across the continent.

The euro is one of the strongest currencies in the world. The euro is the second-most popular currency (behind the American dollar) and is used daily by more than 320 million people. Nations that use the euro as a unit of currency are called the &ldquoeurozone.&rdquo

Leadership of the EU, split among different branches and institutions, is a working model of international cooperation. The EU accepts few candidates: member states must maintain a stable, democratic form of government, a free-market economy, and commitment to the rule of law.

The rapid growth of the European Union, however, has caused a number of administrative and political tensions. Critics believe the process of attaining EU membership is too difficult for Europe&rsquos developing economies. Strict EU regulations place a heavy burden on developing countries to compete with their more developed neighbors.

The global financial crisis, which began around 2008, has caused these tensions to elevate dramatically. The financial crisis is defined by debt and high unemployment. The European Union created a $957 billion &ldquorescue package&rdquo for the EU economy, primarily for countries that had unsustainable debt rates. These countries included Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal. This rescue package has caused tensions to rise between economically competitive countries and the indebted countries that they are helping to rescue. Indebted countries must now deal with strict budgets and declining incomes while more financially stable countries are forcing taxpayers to help fund the financial rescue.

The status of immigrants is also a source of tension and debate in Europe. Historically, Europe has been a center of immigration. The European Union has established the Schengen Area&mdasha zone where Europeans can travel from country to country without having to show their passports. The financial crisis, along with concerns about immigrants&rsquo connections to terrorism and religious extremism, has caused Europe to develop a more guarded approach to immigration. Some critics argue these attitudes are xenophobic. Xenophobia is an intense dislike or fear of people from other places or cultures.

Two events demonstrate this debate. In 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons featuring Islamic subjects. The political cartoons sought to engage in the debate surrounding Muslim extremism. Many Muslim organizations, however, saw the cartoons as bigoted, racist, and insulting. Protests developed across the Muslim world, and demonstrators set fire to Danish embassies in Lebanon, Iran, and Syria. These events had a devastating effect on Denmark&rsquos reputation as a progressive and welcoming country. The debate surrounding the cartoons also intensified strained relations between the Islamic world and the West.

In 2010, the French government dismantled illegal immigrant camps throughout France. These camps were mostly populated by Roma, also called Gypsies. Roma are a people and culture native to central and eastern Europe. In the face of an economic crisis, EU citizens of poorer member countries, such as the Roma of Bulgaria and Romania, often migrate to more developed EU countries in search of work. Developed countries, however, are also facing economic challenges. These nations do not feel an obligation to accept illegal immigrants, seeing them as both a threat and a burden.

Supporters of the crackdown want to stop illegal immigration. Critics argue the move was racist.

Future Issues
An important predictor of Europe&rsquos political and economic future is its efforts to minimize the effects of climate change.

Europe is often seen as a world leader in environmentally friendly technologies and legislation. The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. As part of an international agreement signed at the conference, all 27 member states of the European Union agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020 (from 1990 levels).

The EU also notified the UN of a &ldquoconditional offer to increase this cut to 30 percent, provided that other major emitters agree to take on their fair share of a global reduction effort.&rdquo This conditional offer illustrates the tension that was present at the conference between developed countries&rsquo high carbon emissions and developing countries&rsquo low or rising carbon use. In fact, many developing nations argued that the Copenhagen Accord was drafted by a small group of powerful countries and unfairly disadvantages poorer countries, many of which are expected to suffer the worst effects of climate change.

The ageing of Europe&rsquos population is also expected to dramatically affect the continent&rsquos social, political, and financial future. The overall population of Europe is set to drop from roughly 590 million to 542 million by 2050. The proportion of people older than 65 will grow from 16 percent to 28 percent. These projected changes will have two major effects: There will be a smaller work force to create a dynamic and industrious economy, and governments and citizens will have to care for more elderly people.

These changes will affect different regions of Europe in different ways. A study completed by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development found that Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, western Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria, and France have the best prospects of supporting vibrant and economically successful societies. Many of the most socially and economically powerful elements of these societies will be led by immigrants.

Developing countries, such as those in eastern and southern Europe, are expected to bear the worst of the depopulation trend. Among the struggling economies that may suffer from carbon emission limits are Romania, Bulgaria, and Moldova.

Thus, it seems that Europe&rsquos historic disparities between north and south, west and east, will continue to widen in the future. Enacting regional social policies and economic legislation, especially through bodies like the European Union, may help curb that trend.

Europe has a long history of human development and is considered the birthplace of Western Civilization.

Europe’s Hypocritical History of Cannibalism

In 2001, a lonely computer technician living in the countryside in Northern Germany advertised online for a well-built man willing to participate in a mutually satisfying sexual act. Armin Meiwes’ notice was similar to many others on the Internet except for a rather important detail: The requested man must be willing to be killed and eaten.

Meiwes didn’t have to look far. Two hundred and thirty miles away in Berlin, an engineer called Bernd Brandes agreed to travel to Meiwes’ farmhouse. There, a gory video later found by police documented Brandes’ consensual participation in the deadly dinner. The cannibalism was both a shock to the German public and a conundrum to German prosecutors wanting to charge Meiwes with a crime.

Cannibalism might be humanity’s most sacred taboo, but consent of a victim typically eliminates a crime, explains Emilia Musumeci, a criminologist at the University of Catania, in Italy, who studies cannibalism and serial killers.

More technically, cannibalism is not designated as illegal in Germany’s extensive criminal code: Until that point, laws against murder had sufficed to cover cannibalism. If Brandes had volunteered his own life, how could Meiwes be accused of murder?

Because of his victim’s consent, Meiwes was initially found guilty of something akin to assisted suicide, and sentenced to eight years in jail. Had there not been widespread uproar about the seemingly lenient penalty, Meiwes would be out of jail by now. Instead, the uproar led to a subsequent retrial, where Meiwes was found guilty of killing for sexual pleasure. He will likely spend the rest of his life in jail.

The unusual Meiwes case is just one of the topics to be discussed this weekend at an interdisciplinary cannibal conference to be held at the Manchester Museum—the world’s first, say many attending the meeting.

The idea of a cannibalism conference might sound like the basis for a macabre joke about coffee-break finger food. However, there’s serious cannibal scholarship taking place in many disciplines, says conference organizer Hannah Priest, a lecturer at Manchester University, who has previously hosted other academic meetings on werewolves and monsters under the banner of her publishing company Hic Dragones. “From contemporary horror film to medieval Eucharistic devotions, from Freudian theory to science fiction, cannibals and cannibalism continue to repel and intrigue us in equal measure,” advertises the conference’s website.

When the call for abstracts went out last fall, “our first response was one from anthropology, another one was on heavy metal music and the third was on 18th-century literature,” Priest says. “Academics will quite happily discuss very disturbing things in quite polite terms and forget that not everybody talks about this stuff all the time.”

It is perhaps fitting that the conference should take place in Europe because the region has a long chronicle of cannibalism, from prehistory through the Renaissance, right up to the 21st-century Meiwes case. In addition, the area has bequeathed us a bounty of fictional cannibals, including Dracula, who is arguably the world’s most famous consumer of human blood and a gory harbinger of the current pop culture fascination with vampires and zombies.

Europe boasts the oldest fossil evidence of cannibalism. In a 1999 Science article, French paleontologists reported that 100,000-year-old bones from six Neanderthal victims found in a French cave called Moula-Guercy had been broken by other Neanderthals in such a way as to extract marrow and brains. In addition, tool marks on the mandible and femur suggested that tongue and thigh meat had been cut off for consumption. 

The cannibalism at Moula-Guercy wasn’t an isolated incident in prehistory. In the past decade, researchers have reported other evidence that Neanderthals continued eating each other until just before their disappearance. In one particularly grisly discovery at the El Sidrón cave in Spain, paleontologists discovered that an extended family of 12 individuals had been dismembered, skinned and then eaten by other Neanderthals about 50,000 years ago.

When early Homo sapiens began engaging in cannibalism is a topic of debate, although it is clear they eventually did, says Sandra Bowdler, an emeritus professor of archeology at the University of Western Australia. Evidence is scant that this happened in early human hunter-gatherer communities, she says, although in 2009 Fernando Rozzi, at the Centre National de la Récherche Scientifique, in Paris, reported finding a Neanderthal jaw bone that may have been butchered by early humans.

Even if Europe’s Homo sapiens didn’t consume each other in prehistory, they certainly did in more modern times. References to acts of cannibalism are sprinkled throughout many religious and historical documents, such as the reports that cooked human flesh was being sold in 11th-century English markets during times of famine, says Jay Rubenstein, a historian at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

However, the world’s first cannibal incident reported by multiple, independent, first-hand accounts took place during the Crusades by European soldiers, Rubenstein says.

These first-hand stories agree that in 1098, after a successful siege and capture of the Syrian city Ma’arra, Christian soldiers ate the flesh of local Muslims. Thereafter the facts get murky, Rubenstein says. Some chroniclers report that the bodies were secretly consumed in “wicked banquets” borne out of famine and without the authorization of military leaders, Rubenstein says. Other reports suggest the cannibalism was done with tacit approval of military superiors who wished to use stories of the barbaric act as a psychological fear tactic in future Crusade battles.

Either way, post-Crusade European society was not comfortable with what happened at Ma’arra, Rubenstein says. “Everybody who wrote about it was disturbed,” he says. “The First Crusade is the first great European epic. It was a story people wanted to celebrate.” But first they had to deal with the embarrassing stain.

Part of the problem was that cannibalism at Ma’arra simply didn’t fit in with the European self-image. In medieval times, cultural enemies—not military or religious heroes—were commonly depicted as cannibals or giants, “especially in narratives of territorial invasion and conquest,” argues Geradine Heng, in Cannibalism, The First Crusade and the Genesis of Medieval Romance. “Witches, Jews, savages, Orientals, and pagans are conceivable as—indeed, must be—cannibals but in the 12th-century medieval imaginary, the Christian European subject cannot.”

By the 16th century, cannibalism was not just part of the mental furniture of Europeans it was a common part of everyday medicine from Spain to England.

Initially, little bits of pulverized mummies imported from Egypt were used in prescriptions against disease, but the practice soon expanded to include the flesh, skin, bone, blood, fat and urine of local cadavers, such as recently executed criminals and bodies dug up illegally from graveyards, says University of Durham’s Richard Sugg, who published a book in 2011 called Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians.

Medicinal cannibalism reached a feverish pitch around 1680, Sugg says. But the practice can be traced back to the Greek doctor Galen, who recommended human blood as part of some remedies in the 2nd century A.D., and it continued all the way into the 20th century. In 1910, a German pharmaceutical catalog was still selling mummy, says Louise Noble, who also wrote a book on the topic called Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture.

While Europeans ate “mummy” to cure their physical ailments, the same culture sent missionaries and colonists to the New World to cure New World indigenous people of their purported barbaric cannibalism, some of which was entirely fabricated as a rationale for conquest, Bowdler says. “It’s certainly possible that Europeans were consuming more human flesh at the time than people in the New World,” Sugg says.

 “It’s a big paradox,” Noble adds. The term cannibal was being used to describe someone inferior while the “civilized in Europe were also eating bits of the human body,” she says.

The word cannibal first entered the English language in the mid-16th century by means of Spanish explorers, says Carmen Nocentelli, a 16th-century comparative literature and culture scholar at the University of New Mexico. It derives from the Spanish word Canibales, which was used by Columbus in his diaries to describe indigenous people of the Caribbean islands who were rumored to be eaters of human flesh, Nocentelli says. In his diaries, it is clear Columbus didn’t initially believe the rumors, she adds.

But the name stuck: Cannibal became a popular term used to describe people in the New World. It was certainly sexier than the Greek and then Latin word “anthropophagi,” which a 1538 dictionary defines as “people in Asia, which eate [sic] men,” Nocentelli says.

Because there’s evidence that colonists exaggerated accounts of cannibalism in the New World, some scholars have argued that all cannibalism reports in the colonies were fictitious. But the balance of evidence suggest some reports were certainly true, Bowdler says, namely, from human blood proteins found in fossilized feces at American Southwest sites to first-hand reports from reliable sources about cannibal practices among Mesoamerican Aztecs and Brazilian Tupinambá. “One of the reasons cannibalism is so controversial is because we have few detailed accounts of how it worked in society,” Bowdler adds.

Bowdler has been compiling a list of well-documented accounts of worldwide cannibalism that she will present at the conference this weekend. In particular, she’ll discuss categories of cannibalism where consuming human flesh is “not considered out-and-out bad” in the society where it is practiced, she says.

One such category is survival cannibalism, where people consume each other out of absolute necessity, such as the 16 survivors of a 1972 plane crash in the Andes mountains or the members of Sir John Franklin’s failed 1845 expedition to the Arctic.

Another category is mortuary cannibalism, the consumption of the dead during their funeral rites, practiced through the 20th century in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea and the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon. “This is not, as we may instinctively imagine, morbid and repulsive,” notes the University of Manchester’s Sarah-Louise Flowers in her conference abstract, “but is instead an act of affection and respect for the dead person, as a well as being a means of helping survivors to cope with their grief.”

As some conference attendees compare culturally acceptable categories of human consumption with nefarious cases of cannibal serial killers, other conference presenters will pick apart the presence of cannibals in pop culture, such as the episode of revenge cannibalism in the animated sitcom South Park, the blockbuster popularity of the vampire romance novel series Twilight and the emergence of the Call Of Duty: Zombies video game.

With talk titles like “Flesh-Eaters in London: Cosmopolitan Cannibals in Late 19th-Century Fiction and the Press,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Inside the Mind of the Cannibal Serial Killer,” and “Bon Appetit! A Concise Defense of Cannibalism,” one can only hope the conference canapés are vegetarian.


  1. Bertram

    And where the logic?

  2. Boyce

    We will talk.

  3. Regenweald

    You are definitely right

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