The conference invites 30 European writers and intellectuals to Berlin to discuss current European issues from a literary perspective with the goal to go beyond a media discourse on Europe conducted from the perspectives of political and economic interests and to attempt to reach rapprochement and understanding between European identities and living environments.
How can literature contribute to an understanding of European identity and lifestyle? What alternatives to purely political and media discourses can writers offer? What role does culture play in times of threat by populism and nationalism?
The European Writers Conference harks back to a meeting in West Berlin in May 1988, which dealt with the question of how to overcome the division of Europe and make the utopian vision of a “house of Europe” come true. Some of the writers who participated then – such as, for example, Ágnes Heller and György Dalos from Hungary – also took part in the 2016 conference.
For the initiators are not only interested in what London or Paris thinks about Europe. They also want to engage in a dialogue with Europeans from the continent’s geographical and political peripheries and hear about their dreams, wishes, and worries.
In May 2016 the writers built upon the themes of the first conference by discussing common European values in the face of nationalism and xenophobia, literature’s potential to overcome cultural and political borders, and to what degree culture tolerates or requires immigration.
The European Writers’ Conference is an initiative run by the authors Mely Kiyak, Antje Rávic Strubel, Nicol Ljubić and Tilman Spengler working alongside Frank-Walter Steinmeier and is being organized every two years in Berlin. The conference is accompagnied bythe Long Night of Literature at Deutsches Theater Berlin.