Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Inspired by my friend and colleague Nils I decided to take the first chapters of my dissertation through Wordle. The result is pretty impressive and also sets the right tone for the coming weeks...

Next stop for Rawls & Me will (probably) be Manchester Metropolitian University in early September where I will attend their annual workshop in political theory. Bis dann!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Old Vicarage

“Here am I, sweating, sick and hot,
And there the shadowed water fresh
Lean up to embrace the naked flesh”

We took our thoughts with us and packed us into a cramped Luton-bound flight. Another summer of apparently seamless travel, before long the world had changed again and we were under that well-known apple tree in the Grantchester orchard, reading the poem above by Rupert Brooke.

This time, the feeling was even stronger, this must urgently become the common right of all humanity. While some temporary restrictions on personal mobility may be called for, it is imperative that we do not forget the vision of a world without borders. It is obviously unacceptable that “nationality”, a completely arbitrary category that people are simply given at birth, should dictate so much.

Yet, any such vision remains futile unless paired with an equal strong vision of a world of global prosperity, a world in which cultural curiosity has come to replace economic necessity and political oppression as the main motives behind migration. I believe that such a world can be achieved within our lifetime. Apparently, the policy wonks behind the newly proposed “Stockholm Programme“ do not. Instead they imagine a world of fear, militarized security and social instability in which borders have to be fearfully protected and a “digital tsunami” of surveillance has to be launched to “protect citizens’ rights”.

We must resist these waves of Newspeak and together work to protect the fundamental values that we again find to be in peril.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Riad Due

From Essaouira we took the spiffy white bus back to Marrakech. Travelling in Morocco quickly brings back that long shadow of colonial divide, arriving behind the thick wooden door at Riad Due simply completes the picture. Outside, the myriads of ancient alleyways making up the market souks. Inside, futuristic shots worthy of any glossy interior design magazine. An environment so sparkling clean that you would barely find it in Europe; the magic touch of Milanese photographer and designer Giovanna Cinel which caught my attention years ago when reading the travel magazine RES.

An old riad turned into top notch suites and luxury rooms. The jasmine hand wash welcoming you, the generous breakfast and the smiling hospitality. All those small things that still leave me ambivalent. Are we contributing to something good and sustainable here? Or just reinforcing the public/private divide that the wooden door represents?

Monday, July 06, 2009


It is here in Essaouira that the Atlantic trade wind, the beautifully named Alizee, comes ashore. The wind follows your every step here, through the narrow alleyways, along the wave-lashed ramparts and into the night when only the silent shuffle of kaftans may occasionally blend into its infinite melodies.

This morning, I woke up to the sad news that my dear grandmother had passed away. Her name “Alice”, though cognate with the wind, was always something reserved exclusively for formalities. To me and my sister she was simply “grandmother” and as one she took very good care of us both.

She will be deeply missed.

Friday, July 03, 2009


More than a decade has passed since I last visited Andalucía and worked at that shipyard over in Puerto Royal. It must have been in the winter of 1998 and the cliff of Gibraltar was wrapped in the fleeing morning mist. Barely visible, the Rif Mountains signalled to me from across the strait, and I remember how the vastness of the world literally dawned on me.


After three days of coastal Spain and the burning inland heat of Granada, we left with the noon-ferry from Algeciras. Alta Velocidad, maybe a bit of cheating to take the catamaran but over the last days I have grown ever more excited about finally making landfall in this ash-white city known for its fading colonial ambience and Beat generation disillusionment. Having cleared the border formalities, we stepped outside the terminal and into what was instantaneously recognizable as a different world. An old seventies Mercedes took us up to the Neo-Moorish train station Tangier Ville where we made some enquiries for our onward journey with the legendary “Marrakech Express”. With the train due to leave first tomorrow evening, we are now preparing ourselves for our first night in Africa.