Digitalization – Threat or Opportunity?

A new approach to writing, publishing and reading in the digitalization era will be presented in a series of events organized by the EUNIC Serbia.

From 17th to 21st October, the European Union’s National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC), an organization that promotes cultural diversity and dialogue, will hold workshops about the new approach to writing, publishing and reading in the digitalization era, as well as a round table discussion titled “Digital Reading – New Borders”.

Director of the French Institute in Serbia, Jean-Baptiste Cuzin, who was also appointed EUNIC’s head this summer, says that the idea originated from a task force comprised of the people from the Goethe Institute and other EUNIC partners in Serbia, including the Cervantes Institute, the Italian Institute for Culture, the Austrian Cultural Forum and the French Institute.

“Together, we have concluded that digitalization gives a new meaning to our relation with the written word and books, both in Serbia and in the EU. Digitalization can be viewed as a threat, as well as an opportunity to reach to new audiences, especially the young one, to nurture the appreciation of the written work and books, to connect a bond between writing about ‘the reality’ and ‘imagination’, and to open up to the world around us. First and foremost, digitalization makes it easier to access written work, to respect copyright and to build new relations, dive into the written word and images and become actors in the reading experience. This is the premise behind the idea exchange week”, says Jean-Baptiste Cuzin.

The first workshop will be organized by the Austrian Cultural Forum, at the Austrian Library in the Svetozar Markovic University Library in Belgrade, on 17th October, between noon and 4 pm. The Goethe Institute will hold the second workshop on 18th October (in the French Institute between 10 am and 1:30 pm and 3 pm and 6:30 pm), and the third workshop, organized by the Italian Institute for Culture, will take place on 19th October, at 6 pm, at the Institute’s own premises. Thursday, 20th October, is reserved for the aforementioned round table discussion that will happen at Dom Omladine, from noon to 4 pm.

The French Institute will host an entire day of events on 21st October that will start at 1 pm and end with a film screening at 7 pm. Among other events, the Institute will present the novel ‘French Suite’ written by Irene Nemirovsky who was posthumously awarded with the Prix Renaudot. Also, a film based on this book will be screened on the same night. Irene Nemirovsky was born in Kiev but her family moved to France at a later date where she grew up. She was a disciple of the Parisian intellectual and literary scene between the two world wars. During the World War II she was deported to Auschwitz where she died. The book was also published in Serbia, by Laguna, and translated by Gordana Breberina.

When asked why was Irene Nemirovsky chosen for this event, Mr. Cuzin replies:

“In ‘French Suite’ she talks about an intimate and horrifying story about the destruction of Europe, the Nazi ideas and crimes while, at the same time, touching upon the raw hope that kept her alive to enjoy the rights that any French citizen had and not be killed because of her parents’ religious beliefs. The novel was published several decades after she died and now we have a film made after it which was filmed by mostly British production companies in English (although it was filmed in France). The book and the film are the symbols of what we have been promoting together with our European partners, namely Europe as a place of freedom, diversity, dialogue and creativity and Europe that has learned from its darkest past.”

Speaking about EUNIC’s future activities, Mr. Cuzin says that, this summer, EUNIC and its partners agreed on the strategic framework for its activities while focusing on supporting creative exchange and meetings in Serbia and all cultural stakeholders who see culture as a tool for creating a more open and cohesive society that is more geared towards young people.

What challenges has the Serbian cultural diplomacy been facing?

“I presume you are referring to how the EU partners, assembled in EUNIC Serbia, see you. The challenges are mainly related to supporting talented energetic people who are at the heart of the Serbian society, consolidating interdisciplinary space for dialogue, valuing and showcasing to other countries Serbian creativity and artistic excellence, and jointly building bridges between our respective societies. These are just some of the elements that each and every one of us can support in their own, sovereign, typically European way”, Jean-Baptiste Cuzin concludes.

(Politika, 17.10.2016)

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