Off the Record – Heleen Murre-van den Berg (part II)

First of all, congratulations on your appointment as the Dean of our faculty. 1 You have challenging times ahead of you. To what extent did a sense of duty play a role in your acceptance of the position?

I would say that a sense of duty certainly played a role. However, now that I have held the position of Dean for about two and a half months, I also notice that I enjoy it. It is a privilege to be in this position and to lead this organisation – I realise that more and more. As vice-dean, I was, of course, already involved in the process, but it is rather different to actually be in charge.

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  1. This interview was translated by Janneke Toonders en Mireille Kouevi. The interview took place in September of last year (2021); the text has been somewhat updated to reflect the context of early March 2022.

“The Social Safety Care Club”

On the 7th of October 2021, four of my fellow students (Annabel, Hanna, Luka and Anneloes) and I, decided to found what would soon be called the Social Safety Care Club, or in short: SSCC. It all started in what may be familiar to any (ex-)Radboud student reading this, our beloved Culture Café. Cozily seated in the big brown chairs, sipping a hot beverage of choice, we discussed an issue close to all of our hearts: social safety. Now, already a few months later, I was asked to write down our motivations for starting this club.

We noticed that many of us had experienced something in relation to social safety – or rather unsafety – or had some concerns about the topic in general. Sharing our own thoughts and experiences that day was, to say the least, a relief. Finding each other, on equal footing as students, and being able to freely share and reach out, took a bit of weight off our shoulders. In that moment we realized that something very valuable was happening, something that we wanted to facilitate for a bigger part of the student population at our faculty.

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Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublëv: A Dostoevskian Hero

Introduction

Few literary writers have left their mark on the realm of thought and art as fiercely as Fyodor Dostoevsky, whose novels and stories have brought forth – with an incredible pathos and novelty – questions that are seared into the condition humaine. Dostoevsky’s feat to give flesh and blood to various philosophical, psychological and theological debates has enticed poets, philosophers, theologians, artists and film directors. The ideas presented in books such as The Idiot, Crime and Punishment, Demons and The Brothers Karamazov have been of an enduring value, as they continue to echo in the works of many thinkers.

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Editorial

Dear Reader,

To be honest with you, I have struggled with writing this editorial for two reasons. Firstly, it is my very first editorial that I have been writing since I have become the new editor-in-chief at Splijtstof. Secondly, this edition includes a few articles that I hold very dear to my heart – social safety.

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In den vreemde – Een Nietzscheaanse stedentrip door Duitsland

Het graf van Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche bezocht gedurende zijn leven vele plaatsen in Europa, op zoek naar een geschikter klimaat voor zijn lichamelijke klachten. In veel van die plaatsen zijn er nog sporen van Nietzsche te vinden. Daarom dacht ik erover na om die steden te bezoeken in de vorm van een stedentrip. Ik bestudeerde alle steden die Nietzsche bezocht en ging na welke locaties een bezoek waard waren. Ik kwam tot de conclusie dat ik de steden het best kon verdelen in twee stedentrips. Hier zal de stedentrip door Duitsland aan bod komen, waarin drie steden centraal staan: Röcken, Naumburg en Weimar. Basel, Bonn, Jena en Leipzig komen dus niet aan bod, omdat er in die steden nog maar weinig persoonlijks van Nietzsches leven terug te vinden is. De stedentrip nam in totaal vier dagen in beslag, inclusief verscheidene bezoeken aan Goethe en Schiller-gerelateerde plaatsen. De locaties in Italië en Zwitserland zal ik warm houden voor een volgende stedentrip. 

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What happens when someone’s unhappiness threatens another’s joy?

Although I will only talk about unhappiness and happiness, my intention is not to imbue you with my unhappy ideas!

Everybody assumes that happiness is one of the most desirable feelings. Happiness! Of course, we all want to be happy! In other words, everybody avoids the state of unhappiness. 

What if we discuss the status of its desirability? Some spaces and positions in our daily life are designed to normalize the desirability of happiness. To avoid unhappiness and to constantly desire happiness – is not ‘just’ an innocent thing. To clarify, I will tell you a story of mine that is not about the persuasion of happiness, but rather about how one’s unhappiness can threaten another person’s joy. In doing so, I dare to release the feelings that are suffocating me in everyday life.

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Is it Justified to Evaluate Female Genital Mutilation Categorically Different from Male Circumcision?

An Examination of Inconsistency Based on Cultural Bias and Making Distinctions Between Religious and Cultural Practices

Introduction 

Within the Western discourse, there is a categorical rejection of female genital mutilation (FGM). It is considered a violation of an individual’s rights and a form of unnecessary violence. At the same time, the topic of male circumcision (MC) is perceived – especially in the US – as much less problematic or even benign. While it may at first sight appear unfeasible to compare FGM with MC, I will demonstrate in this essay that there are certain similarities that are often ignored, and which point to an inconsistency in our categorically different evaluations of FGM and MC. This inconsistency becomes especially evident in philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s account of both practices and potentially points to a cultural bias. A double standard of comparable practices cannot be accepted if we want to develop accounts that are as objective, or minimally biased, as possible. Additionally, if it turns out that we are inconsistently evaluating two comparable practices, we might want to adjust policy and legislation, respectively. 

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Redactioneel

Beste lezer,

Tijdens de zomer werd duidelijk dat het toch echt ging gebeuren: langzamerhand proberen we terug te gaan naar het “oude normaal”, of in ieder geval het semi-oude normaal. Afgezien van een doolhof aan aangegeven looprichtingen en een maximumaantal personen per ruimte, ging de universiteit van het slot af. Afgelopen zomer was ik regelmatig op de campus te vinden en ik merkte eigenlijk amper het verschil tussen de zomerperiode en het afgelopen academische jaar – afgezien van het feit dat de kannen op de 15e verdieping niet altijd meer gevuld waren met koffie en thee. Dat was begin dit jaar wel anders. Opeens lijkt het onmogelijk om je fiets te stallen in de daarvoor bestemde rekken wanneer je na de start van de eerste colleges aankomt. Daarnaast moet je er, net als voorheen, weer snel bij zijn wanneer ik een plekje wil bemachtigen in de koffiehoek tijdens lunchtijd. Kortom: net zoals tijdens het “oude normaal” was het in de eerste weken van september weer ontiegelijk druk op de campus.

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Introduction 49-3

“Silence is the most spoken dialect in Sardinia” says the Italian novelist Michela Murgia in the episode about the Brontë sisters of the podcast Morgana (available only in Italian, sadly), which narrates the biographies of many extraordinary women (from the past and the present). 

Michela Murgia’s words hit me while I’m having my daily run or, in this case, walk. In the episode, Murgia is talking to another Italian author, Chiara Valerio. The two are discussing the lack of Gothic fiction novels in the Italian literary tradition. They wonder whether this has anything to do with the sunny Italian climate. In fact, Gothic fiction novels have been extremely popular in those countries where the short dark days and the foggy weather offered the optimal setting for creepy stories of ghosts, murders and the like.

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Het conflictueuze karakter van de liefde

Wie het woord objectificatie hoort, denkt misschien al snel aan discriminatie, xenofobie of seksisme. Zoals de Amerikaanse relatietherapeut Esther Perel ons echter laat zien, zijn we ook in de liefde soms geneigd ‘de ander’ te reduceren tot een bepaald beeld dat we van haar hebben. Vanuit onze behoefte aan veiligheid en geborgenheid, zo schrijft ze, zijn we soms bang voor de vrijheid en eigenheid van onze geliefde. Als zij een vrij subject is, kan zij altijd besluiten ons te verlaten. Om dit te voorkomen proberen we haar gevangen te houden in het beeld dat we van haar hebben. Zo komt niet alleen de liefdesrelatie, maar ook onze eigen vrijheid onder druk te staan. In een relatie staan dus twee belangrijke menselijke behoeftes met elkaar op gespannen voet: enerzijds de behoefte aan veiligheid, nabijheid en geborgenheid en anderzijds de behoefte aan vrijheid, eigenheid en autonomie. 

Lees verder…