Looking at Europe from Asia

Finally I have reached my destination and I am fully connected so that I can now go back to my blog after nearly two months of neglect. I am in Singapore, at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. My new office has a window which faces the Botanic Gardens, since Bukit Timah campus is actually within the garden itself. I have a nice view of nature and modernity from my 9th floor window. The UK and Europe are distant. Yet in this increasingly globalized world nothing is really as distant as it used to be.

Here my research will focus on Malay Singaporean Muslim youth culture, religion and generational gap. I am officially in fieldwork, this time distant from Her Majesty’s Prisons. Yet in a funny coincidence, the HDB (public housing) flat in which I am staying (as all the other HDB flats in Singapore) has bars at the door and windows like a prison. I wonder why, since in my case I am at the fifteenth floor of ‘Ghim Moh Green’, my HDB, and to burgle at such heights may be a bit complicated. 

I would have never found my new place if it were not for the great help of my new Malay friends, who more or less have adopted me, or at least fed me as never before. Indeed when I reached Singapore, it was just few days before Eid. I had the occasion, thanks to the fantastic hospitality of this community, to say ‘Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri’ (the Malay equivalent of Eid Mubarak’) many times in different homes as well as to taste unknown, but all tasty, food.  It is also time for me to seriously learn Malay. 

However, even from this tropical paradise of nature and technology, of never changing weather, and ever changing landscapes of buildings and streets, I still follow what is happening in the ‘Old Continent’. 

In these first few weeks that I have left Europe, we have witnessed small but significant changes, which in my opinion open a quite dark future for the continent. While in Austria the two far right wing parties have won elections, in Italy increasingly violent racism has followed a xenophobic political and social campaign unseen since the 1930s, with continuous attacks on immigrants, the last one happening just today

Europe is shifting, mainly unnoticed, towards a ‘recently seen past’. The economic crisis, indeed, resembles the 1930s one, and the racism and recession appear to have some strange correlations. 



6 thoughts on “Looking at Europe from Asia

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  1. Professor Marranci,

    You say that in Italy there is an increase in violent crime against immigrants and the relevant link shows the harassment of a 20years old in italy?
    Professor Marranci, do you think you should start to think to take care of your health?

    It is difficult to accepts critics on racism from anyone in france, isn’it?
    France, the master of the human rights!!
    Why this country has had the most powerful extreme right party in europe, after austria?

    Nobody remember the attacks against jews in france? from who? from french paysan? from muslims?ooops I have pronounced that name…sorry I know I cannot do it, it is not politically correct. Forgive me…..

    france:master of the same opportunity for all!! but why the most violent riots happened in that country?

    france:master of te same opportunity for all!! but why in the french parliament the non-whites people are largely underrepresented?

    All the french history is full of blood, starting from Napoleon to colonies, to Vichy, where the most fervent nazi helper in delivering jews were the french police, to algeria crimes in 50’s, to pacific island nuclear experimentations….


    1. Dear Aronne,

      thank you for commenting on all my posts. I will reply only to this comment because it says everything about you and your level of knowledge, and I invite you to read more before actually speaking or, as you say in another comment, offering ‘deserved insults’. Read the post above on which you have left this comment…. France? I am living in France? Singapore is in France! I suggest that you start from the ABCs if you wish to be taken seriously.

      Have a nice day

  2. One difference between the noughties and the 1930s – academia. In Theology, for example, I understand post-war editions of some mainstream biblical commentaries – particularly on the OT – were careful to quietly omit anti-Semitic remarks that before WWII went unchallenged. I suspect academia today is nothing like the refuge for Islamophobia as it was for Judeophobia in the pre-war years. Not just in the study of religion, but across the board – pseudo intellectual scaffolding for racism, such as eugenics, is now the boast of a few mavericks and I cannot foresee it coming back into vogue, not least because – as your circumstances demonstrate – academia is now global.

  3. “Europe is shifting, mainly unnoticed, towards a ‘recently seen past’. The economic crisis, indeed, resembles the 1930s one, and the racism and recession appear to have some strange correlations. ”

    hmm insh’allah you are wrong as they say “only time will tell”.

  4. I had no idea that you were coming to S’pore, but now that you’re here, welcome! I’ve been living here for six years now; if you’d like to meet up, please send me an e-mail and I’ll send you my handphone number.

    My wife and I also have the gate and grills on our windows, front and back. The front grills and gate on the door are, indeed, to prevent burglaries – it doesn’t matter how high up you live on your block, people would be willing to steal from you if you give them half the chance. Grills on the back windows are designed to keep people in (such as children), not keeping people out. All too often we hear of maids falling to their deaths when they slip out the back windows while trying to clean them; we don’t need kids falling out too.

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