31 May 2018

12th Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize Award, Salamanca

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The 2018 Laureate is Mr Arnab Dutta from the University of Göttingen (Germany). Mr Dutta spent his 5-month Erasmus exchange as part of his Erasmus Mundus Euroculture Master programme at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in The Netherlands in the year 2016. After graduating in September 2017 in Göttingen, Mr Arnab Dutta was accepted as a PhD student at the Graduate School for the Humanities at his host university, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

Speech by Leopold, Duc d'Arenberg

Dear Rectors, Professors, Students, dear members of the Coimbra Group, ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, meine Damen und Herren, muy estimados senoras y senores, queridos estudiantes,

Es un grande placer para mi volver otra vez a Salamanca, esta ciudad con una personalidad arquitectural muy fuerte y una Universidad conocida en el mundo entero.
Aqui en Salamanca, vivia tambien un cierto Miguel de Unamuno, escritor, poeta, filósofo y professor, pero sobre todo un rector magnifico de su Universidad   quien también llego a ser celebre por dos frases pronunciadas en el 1936, “vencer no es convencer” y “esto es una guerra incivil, no es una guerra civil”.
Cuando estaba estudiando la lengua de Cervantes en el 1980 en Madrid, tuve la oportunidad para visitar sobre todo el centro histórico de Salamanca y también la Universidad.
Nunca olvidé esta breve visita porque me pareció que su ciudad podía ser un ejemplo para muchos países europeos demostrando cómo es posible combinar al mismo tiempo progreso y tradición, globalización y preservación de raíces locales.

It is always a pleasure for me to be at the General Assembly of the Coimbra Group of European Universities to award our Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize to a deserving student of one of your distinguished universities.

This year the Prize goes to a student from Göttingen, to Mr Arnab Dutta, from Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, who spent a full semester as an Erasmus exchange student at the University of Groningen in the academic year 2016-2017.

Time has passed quickly since the first Prize was awarded to a student from the University of Turku, Finland in 2007. This Prize has been federating the thirty-nine universities of the Coimbra Group around this common project for more than ten years, originally the idea of Professor Guido Langouche of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Minister of State Mark Eyskens, president of the Arenberg Foundation and former Belgian prime minister.

Je profite de l’occasion qui m’est donnée pour résumer en quelques lignes les objectifs de la Fondation d’Arenberg qui fait la promotion de l’Histoire et de la Culture des peuples d’Europe.
Nous essayons modestement d’aider les citoyens à penser, à penser lentement, à penser dans le long terme, à penser de manière non conventionnelle et à redécouvrir la notion de « rapport de force » que nous avons pris l’agréable habitude d’oublier.
Nous essayons également de promouvoir l’Europe grâce à la réflexion historique dans un esprit à la fois positif et critique et dans le respect de nos différences.
Nous tentons enfin d’offrir aux uns et aux autres des possibilités d’interactions entre personnes et entre peuples afin de promouvoir l’interculturalité dans le cadre d’activités entreprises en commun. Ce faisant, nous contribuons à la construction de l’Europe d’en bas, de l’Europe des gens, de l’Europe des citoyens, de l’Europe démocratique dans le sens grec du terme.
Et je pense que l’actualité récente et les commentaires édifiants du président européen Donald Tusk ne devraient plus laisser planer le moindre doute quant à la nécessité absolue de faire progresser l’Europe dans des secteurs clés comme la défense, la politique étrangère et le marché unique si nous voulons encore jouer un rôle dans la cour des Grands de ce monde.
Nous essayons donc de contribuer modestement à cet effort collectif par nos gesticulations en faveur de nos histoires et de nos cultures européennes.
What is the Arenberg Foundation doing to promote History and Culture in a practical and efficient way?

The Arenberg Foundation is based in Enghien/Edingen, a small town close to Brussels.
Our vast archives are open to the public on Thursdays and Fridays upon appointment. The Arenberg archives are the biggest private archives in the former Low Countries (2.5 km of documents) and cover a thousand years of European history.
We organize chamber music concerts. For fifteen years, we have collaborated with our Japanese partner Joji Hattori in the Bernese Oberland; this year’s concert took place on February 10th.
We organize seminars: next week, we organize the 7th Arenberg seminar for history where professors and PhD students are going to talk about migrations of the European nobility since the Renaissance.
We publish books and/or help publishing books: on November 16th, we plan to present an important book in Paris about “La Maison d’Arenberg en France” in collaboration with the AFPAP  and the ANF, based on fifteen years of hard work of twenty collaborators, mainly professors and archivists.
For the time being, we have twenty books in the pipeline, among others two books with the French Academy and another with the “Société des Bibliophiles François”.

We organize old-timer rallies: on 4-5 June 2017, we organized a two-day cultural old-timer rally, the Arenberg Trophy, with our partners, the Drones Club of Belgium and have plans to do the same in June 2019.
The purpose of these rallies is to bring people from different cultural and social backgrounds together to help building modestly “l’Europe d’en-bas, l’Europe des gens”, meaning a more democratic Europe.

We have set up four prize awards with competent partners: we have organized two History Prizes since 1992, the Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize since 2007 and the College of Europe Arenberg Prize since 2013.

This last prize is awarded every second year to someone who has written an essay about federal systems in a historical and comparative perspective to encourage reflection about “people living together” in respect of their differences and with the idea to progressively shape a common destiny based on the principle of subsidiarity.

Please do not hesitate to send us your applications for these Prizes. We are at your disposal to answer any questions you may have.
Our next History Prize awards will take place in Brussels on November 21st and our next College of Europe Arenberg Prize award will take place in October 2019 at the European Parliament.
We give medals to people for their good work in the field of culture.
On June 2nd, we will award our medal of merit to a young musician and to the former director of the Archives North Rhine Westphalia in the Belgian city of Enghien in connection with the meeting of the Board of the Arenberg Foundation.

We organize conferences: on 21st of March, we organized a conference about “the international trade” in collaboration with the Senate of Belgium and plan to do the same next year with another conference about “the geopolitics of energy”.
Currently we also collaborate with the Museum “M”, the City of Leuven, the University of Leuven, the National Archives to set up a large exhibition about “Arenberg en Europa” starting on October 25th, 2018 to promote the European idea and our common destiny.
And we keep fighting for a public museum open to the general public.

Unser heutiger Preisträger heißt Arnab Dutta. Er kommt aus der Georg-August-Universität Göttingen und hat im akademischen Jahr 2016-2017 ein Semester an der Universität von Groningen in den Niederlanden verbracht.
Arnab Gutta, our laureate for 2018, completed his Master’s programme at the University of Göttingen with a five-month exchange period in The Netherlands.
What struck me while reading his application form was his sophisticated use of the English language, his high motivation and an interesting list of publications.
In 2012, he was recipient of the University Gold Medal for being FIRST in the First Class in BA Comparative Literature at the Jadavpur University of Kolkata in India.
In 2013-4, he got a scholarship at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Göttingen.
In 2015-2017, he secured an Erasmus Mundus MA Euroculture scholarship at the University of Göttingen and took the advantage of the two years to go to the Rijksuniversiteit of Groningen in The Netherlands and to the University of Uppsala in Sweden.
Currently, he is a PhD student at the Graduate School for the Humanities, at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands.
In his application, he wrote: ““no man is an island” said English poet John Donne. To me, academic exchange means, at its very core, an experience to overcome borders – the borders between the known and the unknown, the home and the world, and the self and the other, to name a few.
Beyond the well-known and rather clichéd definitions of “studying abroad”, what interests me more regarding an Erasmus exchange is the immense possibilities it unleashes in one’s capacity of knowing and understanding someone from the ‘other side’ of the border. Our “dwelling” in time and space has often in it the existence of borders and boundaries. In our common parlance, national boundaries are thought to be the well-defined fault-lines that separate our existence into well-demarcated categories. What academic exchanges usually aspire to do is to transgress these ‘obvious’ and ‘taken-for-granted’ boundaries. My MA thesis bears testimony to these processes of student mobility across these geographical, political, social and cultural boundaries in Europe.
I have written my master thesis primarily on the notional understanding of borders in interwar Europe, and how it actually regulated the mobility patterns of a group of non-European students studying in Europe in the 1930-1940’s. In my thesis, titled as “The borders and the boundaries in the land of the Quasi-Masters : Continental Europe as seen through Bangla Travel Narratives, 1919-1950”, I have tried to show the experiences of the young travellers-cum-students from British Colonial India and to analyse how they made “meaning” of the spatial concept of the continent called Europe while travelling across its vast territories, and how they engaged themselves with the internal boundaries of Europe, not only geographical or political boundaries, but also the borderlines between different versions of Kultur and Civilisation.”
He chose as a second host university the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, because of a research seminar called ‘Representing Europe – a dedicated course to explore Europe’s self-image as a continent, and how the ‘non-European other’s make meaning of it, the seminar being taught by Professor Margriet van der Waal.
Arnab Dutta chose even a third Coimbra Group University, the University of Uppsala, where he served as the research assistant of Dr Benjamin Martin, the then director of the Euroculture programme and an acclaimed historian of ideas. There he devoted a substantial part of his time to the study of the mobility pattern of non-European students in continental Europe in the 1930-1940s as the German Reich and the Italian Fascist Regime were very keen on setting up fresh new academic relations outside Europe, attracting Indian youths to continental Europe and diverting them from the traditional British universities to the new patterns of academic mobility across Nazi-Fascist occupied Europe.
After finishing his MA thesis, Arnab Dutta applied for a PhD position at the Graduate School for the Humanities, again at the University of Groningen where he embarked on a project to write modern European History from a fresh new set of non-European language sources. We wish him good luck in this ambitious project.
I heartily congratulate Arnab Dutta for this year’s Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize and wish him a successful career based on his Erasmus exchange experience.
I would also like to join the selection committee in congratulating the other candidates, whose testimonials were additional excellent examples of the impact of their mobility experience and their academic qualities.
Este comentario seria a conclusao da minha breve intervençào de este dia.  Alla prossima volta con molto piacere per una nuova edizione del nostro premio Arenberg-Coimbra Group 2019 . Muchas gracias por su atención y paciencia.

To me, academic exchange means, at its very core, an experience to overcome borders – the borders between the known and the unknown, the home and the world, and the self and the other, to name a few. - Arnab Dutta, 2018 Laureate