Cartographic Representation of Europe during the Renaissance

Abraham Ortelius, "Map of Europe", Civitates orbis terrarum, 1570.

The rediscovery of Geography by the Greek author Ptolemy, and its translation into Latin in 1409, had a profound influence on the representation of the European continent during the Renaissance. The first map of Europe, published in 1554 by Gerard Mercator, was the origin of a long genealogy of maps using ancient and contemporary sources. Beyond the “progressive” aspects of this new model of measured and projected representation, Europe as an allegorical figure also led to a vast cartographic production reminding that the territories of maps are physical constructions as much as they are intellectual ones.  

Women and Men Faced with Virginity

French postcard from 1907, entitled Souvenir de Nanterre, couronnement de la rosière 1907 [Memento from Nanterre, Crowning of the Rosière for 1907], shows the social value ascribed to female virginity.
This lithography by Jean-Jacques Grandville from 1830, entitled Voyage pour l’éternité [Journey for Eternity], emphasizes anxiety surrounding the risk of syphilis, while bearing witness to the role of prostitutes in the sexual education of young men, who were often taken to a brothel by their father. Source : Wikimedia Commons

The social and symbolic meaning ascribed to virginity has been profoundly reconfigured between the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries, with a decline in the importance of female virginity upon marriage, along with the de-Christianization of its conception, among others. While it partly lost its social meaning, the loss of virginity remains an important and intimate personal moment for both men and women, one that actively contributes to the social construction of gender identities.


Drawing by Gill, “The old breaker of irons,” La Petite Lune 34, 1878. During discussions on whether to grant amnesty to communards, Gill made Victor Hugo into the figurehead for this struggle.

Amnesty is a procedure of radical clemency that decrees forgetting of wrongdoing. Often practiced in Europe during the aftermath of major civil crises in an effort to end confrontation and revive community life, it was used in varying ways and for varying reasons depending on the regime. Long praised for its restorative role, the violence of the modern period contrasted it with the duty of memory. Its current rejection is revealing of a system of historicity in which actors struggle to free themselves from the past, with concern for victims taking priority. Forgetting subsequently becomes possible only if justice is rendered and history succeeds in disarming the confrontation of memories.

Source : Amnesty

Naturism: the body as a central element in the return to nature

Couverture de la revue Naturisme – Le grand hebdomadaire de culture humaine, juillet 1932, revue fondée en 1930.Cover of the magazine Naturisme – Le grand hebdomadaire de culture humaine,  [Naturism – The leading weekly of human culture,] July 1932, review founded in 1930 (collection of the author).
Naked women after bathing, Sweden, 1893. Photograph from a family album, private collection.
Leaflet for the Sparta-Club (1932), “gymnastics centre,” founded in 1926 (collection of the author).

The term “naturism” refers to a variety of movements, taking different forms, that advocate a return to nature. It originated as a medical term, and initially designated alternative therapeutic practices based on the use of natural elements. In the late nineteenth century, it was gradually associated with calls for lifestyles that were more in keeping with nature, and then at the dawn of the twentieth century, with collective and mixed nudity during leisure time. This practice, which was initiated in Germany in relatively narrow circles, spread to Western Europe during the interwar period. It became popularized after World War Two and was integrated into the economy of mass tourism. Although the hedonistic dimension of nudity often overshadows the initial project of a naturist reform of lifestyles, nudism nevertheless remains, for most of its followers, associated with the ideal of a return to nature.

Judeo-German Musicians Exiled to the United States (1933-1944)

Photographic portrait of Arnold Schönberg in 1927. Photo: Man Ray.

It is estimated that approximately 1,500 musicians fled Europe for the United States between 1933 and 1944, driven out by Nazism and anti-Jewish laws. This flow of concert players, orchestra conductors, composers and musicologists, most often of Germanic culture, led to an incomparable blossoming of American musical life, and helped establish musicology as a university discipline.

International Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907

A plenary session during the Second Hague Conference, 1907, Hall of Knights (Ridderzaal).

Beyond their immediate effect, which remained very limited, the two Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 laid the groundwork for a new international system based on law. Resolutely turning their back on the Concert of Europe, they opened up to countries in the Americas and Asia, and especially sought to promote arbitration in settling disputes and ensuring peace. By making room for new diplomatic actors and practices, they ushered in the era of major international conferences and institutionalized multilateralism.

L’Europe, une chance pour les femmes ? Le genre de la construction européenne

Anne-Laure Briatte, Éliane Gubin, Françoise Thébaud (dirs.), L’Europe, une chance pour les femmes ? Le genre de la construction européenne, Editions de la Sorbonne, Paris, 2019. L’Europe n’a pas que des « pères fondateurs ». Dès l’entre-deux-guerres, des femmes militent aux côtés d’européistes convaincus. Animées par un ardent espoir pacifiste ou féministe, elles collaborent à ce qui a pu apparaître comme une utopie avant de se muer en une extraordinaire aventure. Lire la suite

Critical Infrastructure: Europe’s vulnerability geography


The ‘European blackout’ of Saturday evening, 4 November 2006 was remarkable. In Northern Germany, close to the North Sea, a high-voltage transmission line had been purposefully shut down, and contingencies caused a second line to overload and shut down. As the electricity sought alternative pathways, more lines overloaded and switched off. Within 20 seconds the failure had cascaded to the Mediterranean. From Croatia to Portugal lights went out, and people were trapped in trains and elevators. Via the Spain-Morocco high-voltage cable the failure even hit Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.

This rare blackout exposed Europe’s electrical infrastructure: a giant technological system, which in everyday life secures energy to households and professionals, silently and invisibly. It illustrates Europe’s “hidden” infrastructure integration: From the first half of the 19th century onward, a variety of transport, communication, and energy networks integrated (and, in other cases, fragmented) Europe—in more direct and mundane ways than the formal economic and political integration process that started a century later. Today, modern societies and economies have become so dependent on uninterrupted infrastructure services, that they remain highly vulnerable to infrastructure disruption. The term Critical Infrastructure (CI) spotlights this vulnerability.

Introduction de l’art européen en Corée au XVIIIe siècle

Jang Han-jong (張漢宗, 1768-1815), Nature morte sur étagères de bibliothèque, fin XVIIIe siècle, paravent à huit panneaux, couleurs sur papier, 195 x 361 cm. © Musée provincial de Gyeonggi.
Kim Hong-do (金弘道, 1745-1806), Falaise à Ongchon, 1788, Encre et couleurs sur soie, 30 x 43,7 cm, collection privée. © Korea Data Agency.

Fermée depuis longtemps à l’étranger, la Corée n’a dans le courant du xviie siècle que des échanges culturels très réduits avec les Européens, moins nombreux que ceux entretenus avec ses voisins, le Japon et la Chine. Sentant le besoin de se moderniser, elle commence à la fin de ce siècle à s’ouvrir, par des contacts encore indirects et irréguliers avec les Occidentaux. L’introduction à la fin du xviiie siècle d’œuvres occidentales, produites dans un monde dont l’existence était souvent jusqu’alors inconnue, se traduit par un intérêt croissant pour quelques aspects de la culture européenne et de la religion chrétienne, ce qui se ressent dans différents domaines de la production artistique coréenne et particulièrement dans la peinture. Cette époque voit donc à la fois l’épanouissement d’une culture proprement coréenne et le développement de véritables échanges entre l’Extrême-Orient et l’Europe, bien avant la première ouverture d’un port de Corée aux navires occidentaux, à la fin du xixe siècle.

Voyages d’artistes

Hayne Brun, Décollation de saint Cucufat, 1504-1507. © Barcelone, Museu nacional d’art de Catalunya.

Aux xive et xve siècles, l’Europe connaît un renouveau artistique dont bénéficie la péninsule Ibérique, et en particulier la couronne d’Aragon grâce à la prospérité du commerce du bassin méditerranéen et à ses souverains, grands mécènes. Marchands, clercs et nobles, mais aussi intellectuels et artistes se déplacent et convergent vers les centres de pouvoir que sont les cours princières et les grandes villes portuaires comme Barcelone et Valence. Ce phénomène touche de nombreux peintres français, néerlandais et allemands qui, par vagues successives, s’y installent pour un temps ou définitivement. Ces artistes, parmi lesquels Marçal de Sas, Louis Allyncbrood, Hayne Bru(y)n ou encore Jean de Bourgogne, apportent avec eux les savoirs et les modèles issus du nord de l’Europe.