Finding Europe – The Central Theme of the re:publica 2015

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Finding Europe at #rp15; credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The motto Finding Europe at the re:publica 2015 might well be the most political motto of the re:publica so far. Stronger than in previous years, the motto dominated the program of this year's conference.

Of course, it wasn't possible for all sessions to fall under the common concept of a European motto but a substantial portion of them did. There are too many ways in which to approach European network policies and digital societies in a digital age. Nonetheless, we are pleased about the many presentations and discussions on the topic of Europe. We are also happy that some visitors may have truly 'found' Europe at the re:publica.

The panel "Say it loud! Say it clear? Refugees are welcome here!?" credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

News of hundreds of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean reached us repeatedly throughout the year. The issue of migration and Europe was a focal point at the re:publica. In one of the first sessions, Ferda Ataman, Katharina Mühlbeyer, Mohamad Al Ashrafani, Vasilis Tsianos and Christian Jakob discussed "Say it loud! Say it clear? Refugees are welcome here!?" and the situation of refugees in Germany.

Similar questions were debated in the panel discussion "Closed for migration, open for Export" Here, Claudia Roth, vice president of the German Bundestag and member of the Vorstand der Deutschen Parlamentarischen Gesellschaft, discussed along with Zara Rahman and Fatuma Musa, the role data collection and technology played in the surveillance of Europe's outer borders.

Fatuma Musa with Claudia Roth, vice president of the German Bundestag, and Zara Rahman on the panel "Closed for migration, open for export"; credit: re:publica/Jan Zappner (CC BY-SA 2.0)

There was, however, also good news to report, as Mareike Geiling, Bakary Konan and Jonas Kakoschke demonstrated. By providing refugees with a room in a flat share, their project "Flüchtlinge Willkommen" (Refugees Welcome), is a practical contribution to a local open arms policy.

Even beyond the big stages, visitors could discover great sessions such as the Lightning Talks "Digital Spheres in Europe", which dealt with the role digital culture plays in the creation of a European public with a network policy at EU-level or even with national specifics.

People can and want to be enthused by the European idea as the response to Ulrike Guérot's excellent presentation "The European Republic is under construction" demonstrated. Credit: re:publica/Jan Zappner (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Two years after whistle blower Edward Snowden disclosed information, surveillance of political network communities is still the biggest cause for concern. The #rp15 discussed the issue within a European context. Eric King, for instance, based his presentation on his speech from the re:publica 2014, exposing activities of European confederates of the secret service quintette Five Eyes.

In the face of the continuous crisis that Europe seems to be suck in, the speakers from “Affe im Kopf der Union“ diagnosed Europe with bipolar disorder. In their session "Dr. Freud und Mrs. Europe" they made Lady Europe lie down on the analytic couch. Luckily, there was always something to make you laugh in and about Europe, at the very latest when watching the Austrian cabaret in "maschek.findet.europa".

Europe could be found not only on stage but also in the framework program:

Street musicians that have already played all over Europe contributed to the atmosphere in the courtyard; credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Every afternoon in the yard, street musicians who played all corners of the continent made music on the Busker-Diaries-Stage.

On Thursday evening, the real European political nerds got together at the election party organized by the European Alternatives and the euro|topics to await the day's outcome of Britain's general elections. 

During the whole re:publica, our partner ubirch GmbH's dazzling project "Finding Europe with Lights" literally shone a light on Europe's digital society. Beforehand, 28 sensors had been sent to supporters all over Europe who now continuously sent light information to the installation made up of 28 lamps and set next to stage 1. The lights in turn span a net over Europe in form of an online map.

We tagged all relevant session with "Europe" so you can continue your search for Europe. Where did you find it at re:publica? Please let us know via email, Twitter or by any other means!

photo credit top image re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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