European Imagination of the Forest: From the Margins to Loss

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, The Parc des lions at Port Marly, 1872, oil on canvas, 81 x 65 cm, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
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Initially thought of as the matrix of civilization, and long dreaded or celebrated as a place to lose and better find oneself—whether one was a knight, or a child driven by danger or an urge—the increasingly rare European forest, surrounded by fields and cities, has been likened to the Garden of Eden, protected as a park and projected overseas, slowly becoming a space of originality losing out against the force of progress.

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Sexual Harassment at Work

Le contremaître Penaud : « Tas de brutes ! Vous voulez me faire faire la culbute, sous prétexte que j’ai culbuté vos femmes !… ». Jules Grandjouan, L’Assiette au beurre, no 214, 6 mai 1905, lors de la grève de Limoges.Foreman Penaud: “Bunch of brutes! You want to bring me down, on the pretext that I screwed your wives!...”. Jules Grandjouan, L’Assiette au beurre  214, May 6, 1905, during the Limoges strike.
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Sexual harassment at work is difficult to define, for it is sometimes seen as a characteristic of emotional abuse or violence in general and sometimes as a specific entity unto itself. The workplace emerges as a specific locale for the exercise of violence and power, as demonstrated by the problem of sexual harassment. In the face of this phenomenon, different European countries have organized a series of attempts to respond to the problem, essentially in the form of regulatory law.

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Birth Control in Europe

Thermometer for determining the fertile and infertile days of the menstrual cycle, circa 1950.
August Haidjuk, “Always more and always less,” Ulk  24 (1912), Berlin.
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While the notion that any pregnancy must be stoically accepted dominated in Europe until the eighteenth century, birth control spread during the nineteenth century and gradually became a common practice despite opposition from the Church and political authorities. It was actually seen as a means of upward mobility and from the 1960s increasingly as an instrument of freedom. Policies, which had for a long time condemned this evolution, ultimately adapted and contributed to it through the liberalization of contraception. Governments nevertheless remain divided in Europe, particularly with regard to the question of abortion.

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Erasmus and Luther

Luther and his Collaborators, by Lucas Cranach the Younger. Detail from the epitaph of Michael Meyenburg, the Burgomaster of Meyenburg, oil painting, copy of the original from 1558, which was once conserved in the Saint Blaise’s church in Nordhausen.
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The confrontation between Erasmus and Luther was a highly important duel for Europe during the first half of the sixteenth century, for they offered competing visions of humans, history, and faith. While they were both born in a Northern Europe steeped in devotio moderna, and both received the same spiritual and biblical training, their paths soon radically diverged, as Erasmian Christian humanism, which defended an optimistic anthropology, could not agree with the despair of the Reformation. Moreover, Erasmus’s preference for the writings of Origen and Saint Jerome, at the expense of those of Saint Augustine, was unbearable for Luther. The impossible dialogue between these two sixteenth century giants contributed to early modern Europe’s shift into religious schism.

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Elites: Privileged Vectors of European Construction

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The process of identifying elites has been the subject of theoretical analyses developed in political sociology. Historians have also contributed to the study of the “decision-making groups” at work during the beginnings of European construction.

European elites from a number of states in North-western Europe mobilized around the creation of the first communities. The question of their enlargement led to a degree of divergence upon the accession of Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Later, the impact of the transformations that took place during the 1980s sparked new debates but did not call into question the fundamental role of elites in European construction.

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From the Europe of citizens to European citizenship, 1974-1992

British Passport
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The participation of the people in the construction of Europe has raised questions since the 1970s, when member states sought to revitalize the process of political unification. The election of the European Parliament by universal suffrage was a first step.  The Europe of citizens, which was initiated in 1975 and revitalized in 1985, was meant to bring the peoples of the European Community closer but remained symbolic and lacked major practical impact. The states waited until the Maastricht Treaty to implement genuine European citizenship as part of the political Union, yet it is still a secondary citizenship limited to a few rights, with minor impact and debatable political effectiveness.

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France, the Atlantic Alliance and the Europe of Defence since the end of the Cold War

A map showing European membership of the EU and NATO. Blue, EU members only. Orange, NATO members only. Purple, members of both.
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The Atlantic Alliance was the central part of security in Europe from 1949 to 1989, with France playing its part, then going his own way. Between the seemingly improbable defence of Europe by Europeans and the defence of Europe by NATO, which seems to have won out, France has tried since the end of the Cold War to maintain a form of national independence, strategic autonomy, and privileged contacts, particularly with the British. The Europe of defence based on reinforced cooperation and genuine pooling of resources sill comes up against national choices, for which France does not bear sole responsibility.

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Conférences internationales de La Haye, 1899 et 1907

Une séance plénière lors de la seconde conférence de La Haye, 1907, salle des Chevaliers (Ridderzaal).
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Par-delà leurs effets immédiats, qui restent très limités, les deux conférences de La Haye de 1899 et 1907 jettent les bases d’un nouveau système international fondé sur le droit. Tournant résolument le dos au Concert européen, elles s’ouvrent aux pays d’Amérique et d’Asie et entendent notamment favoriser la pratique de l’arbitrage pour régler les différends et assurer la paix. En faisant place à de nouveaux acteurs et pratiques diplomatiques, elles inaugurent l’ère des grandes conférences internationales et du multilatéralisme institutionnalisé.

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République des lettres (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles) (La)

Simon Fokke, Frontispice pour la revue Republyk der geleerden (« La République des lettrés »), 1745. Rijksmuseum RP-P-201b-1050. Minerve, déesse de la sagesse et du savoir, semble veiller sur la bibliothèque où travaillent et échangent les lettrés, tandis que Mercure, dieu associé à la presse et à l’information, les instruit.
Willem Moreelse, Portrait d’un savant inconnu, 1647, Tolède, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1962.70. L’homme porte la couronne du Laureatus – signe de la reconnaissance du lettré – et présente un livre de botanique portant la mention « cette plante montre la présence de Dieu » en latin, écho de l’imbrication entre les lettres, les sciences et la théologie. Source : Wikimedia Commons https://goo.gl/P8JoxD
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Née en 1417, au sein d’un échange épistolaire en latin entre Francesco Barbaro et Le Pogge, l’expression ne s’impose réellement en Europe qu’à partir du début du xvie siècle : en 1520, Boniface Amerbach, fils du célèbre imprimeur de Bâle, fait alors d’Érasme le « monarque de toute la République des lettres ». La Respublica litteraria est appelée à une grande postérité. Les « lettres » désignent l’ensemble du savoir et les « gens de lettres » rassemblent alors tous ceux qui le cultivent, qu’ils soient qualifiés de littérateurs, érudits, doctes, savants. Dans les faits, la manière dont cet espace utopique est perçu et interprété évolue entre la Renaissance et la Révolution. La République des lettres n’est en rien un objet stable mais varie en fonction des contextes, géographiques et temporels. Pourtant, dans la cartographie des savoirs, la place de ce territoire des lettrés perdure durant toute l’époque moderne.

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