Alberto Alemanno (Italy/Spain, 1975), sometimes referred to as ‘the busiest man in Europe’, is an author and political activist. Among his many public engagements, he founded eLabEurope, an organization promoting European civic engagement through academic research and consultancy, and he also founded the Good Lobby, which offers citizens new avenues to influence the EU’s decision-making process. Alemanno regularly contributes to The Economist, The New York Times, Le Monde, and Politico and is one of the key voices in the EU’s democratic deficit debate.
Eniola Aluko (United Kingdom, 1987) is an English former professional footballer, lawyer, philanthropist, author and Aston Villa Women’s current sporting director. She last played as a forward for Serie A club Juventus. She regularly writes for the Guardian and also appears for television commentary on football, for both men’s and women’s World Cups. “Women are using their voices and their feet to break barriers all over the world. I would say that women have never been in a more empowered position, and I am proud to have been part of the generation that has made that happen.”
Anne Applebaum (United States, 1964) is a staff writer at the Atlantic and a historian who has written numerous award-winning books and articles on history and civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She is a senior fellow of the Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University and a Visiting Professor of Practice at the London School of Economics. Her latest book is Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine (2017).
Joris Bijdendijk (Netherlands, 1984) is the executive chef at RIJKS®, the restaurant connected to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. He is one of the founders of the Low Food Movement, focusing on locally-sourced products, some of which have a long history in Dutch cuisine, while others are more recent additions. Combined with an interest in underused and so-called ignored products, this movement seeks to increase the sustainability of Dutch cooking by connecting chefs, producers, creatives and scientists. He received a Michelin star for his work at RIJKS®.
“Agriculture should be seen as culture and not as an industry. Authentic food and drink should be given a culturally protected status. That will make us more proud of what we have.”
Vasyl Cherepanyn (Ukraine, 1980) is the director of the Visual Culture Research Center in Kyiv, a platform for collaboration between artists, activists, and academics. He holds a PhD in Philosophy and teaches at the Cultural Studies Department of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. In 2015, the European Cultural Foundation presented Visual Culture Research Center with the ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture.
Bryan Doerries (United States, 1976) is a writer and director. He is the founder of Theater of War, a project which uses readings of Greek tragedies as a starting point and basis for discussions about social issues. While initially focused on veterans, service members and their families, the project now addresses a wide variety of social issues including domestic violence, racism & social justice, addiction and sexual violence. His work shows how theater can be used to discuss and address social issues.
Didier Eribon (France, 1953) is a sociologist, philosopher, and historian of French intellectual life. In his book RetouràReims (2009), he describes how the mainstream political left abandoned the interests of the people he grew up with, driving them into the arms of populists. His other notable works include Insult and the Making of the Gay Self and a biography of Michel Foucault. He is a professor at the School of Philosophy and Social Sciences of the University of Amiens.
Clare Farrell (United Kingdom) is the co-founder of the environmental action group Extinction Rebellion. This global environmental movement uses nonviolent civil disobedience to raise widespread awareness for climate change as an existential threat and to compel governments to immediately act on this. As a fashion designer and visual artist, she leads the XR Art team, which is responsible for the action group’s successful branding.
Orlando Figes (United Kingdom, 1959) is a professor of history at Birbeck College, University of London. He has written extensively on ninetieth and early twentieth-century Russian history, and recently published the book The Europeans: Three Lives and the Making of a Cosmopolitan Culture (2019). In the book, “… a reminder of the unifying force of European civilisation…” he traces the origin of a European identity, expressed and experienced through the arts.
Yoel Gamzou (Israel/United States, 1988) is an Israeli conductor and founder of the International Mahler Orchestra. In 2010 he achieved international recognition for completing Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony. In 2013 he won the prestigious “Princess Margriet Award” of the European Cultural foundation. He currently serves as the principal conductor for the Kassel State Orchestra.
Dessy Gavrilova (Bulgaria, 1968) is a cultural consultant and entrepreneur. She is the founding director of the Red House, a center of culture and debate in Sofia, as well as executive chairwoman of the pan-European network of debate houses Time to Talk. She also co-founded the Vienna humanities festival, and teaches at the faculty of arts and culture at the Central European University.
Alicja Gescinska (Belgium/Poland, 1981) is a writer, TV-presenter and philosopher. She has written columns for Trouw, De Morgen and Filosofie Magazine, giving philosophical commentary and perspectives on current events. She was the maker and presenter of Wanderlust, a television programme in which she discussed the large questions of life with numerous influential thinkers of our time. She is also the author of numerous books, including Allmensch: Van middelmaat tot meesterschap (2016), about the nature of humanity and individual development.
David Goldblatt (United Kingdom, 1965) is a journalist, author and broadcaster writing on the history, sociology and influence of football in society. He has authored a number of books, including ‘The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football’ and ‘The Age of Football: The Global Game in the Twenty-first Century’. He won the European Press Prize in 2019 for his unique interview with Viktor Orbán about football. “Football creates solidarities, identities and the possibility of opposition.”
Ulrike Guérot (Germany, 1964) is an analyst of European affairs. She worked at and directed research institutes and think tanks throughout Europe and the US. She served as the head of the Department for European Politics and the Study of Democracy at the Danube-University Krems, and founded the European Democracy Lab in Berlin. Guérot wrote a number of books, including The New Civil War: Europe and its Enemies (2017), and Europe Now! An Encouragement (2018), advocating the idea of a European republic made up of regions rather than nations.
Sophie Hunger (Switzerland, 1983) is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter, film composer, and band leader based in Berlin.
Réka Kinga Papp (Hungary, 1985) is a journalist specialized in environmental, feminist, civil rights and social issues. She is editor-in-chief of Eurozine, a network of European cultural journals that gather together, translate and publish some of the most promising articles and European culture and citizenship from all over Europe. She is also the anchor of the Hungarian social sciences radio program Professzor Paprika.
Flavia Kleiner (Switzerland, 1990) is the founder of Operation Libero, which in 2016 managed to defeat a proposal by the right-wing populist party SVP to deport immigrants who had committed any criminal offence, regardless of severity. Since then, she has continued her work with Operation Libero, defeating a number of populist initiatives and formulating strategies for opposing populist arguments and methods in Switzerland and throughout Europe.
Simon Kuper (United Kingdom, 1969) has written extensively on the history, sociology and economics of football. He is a general correspondent at Financial Times and has written for Het Financieele Dagblad, De Pers, and the literary football magazine Hard Gras. “Some people draw a rigid line between “low” and “high” culture. They regard sport as profane or stupid and opera or politics as sacred or adult. But I’m with the critic Walter Benjamin, who went from reading Goethe to reading popular culture.”
Mark Leonard (United Kingdom, 1974) is a political scientist and author. In 2007, he co-founded the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), the first pan-European think tank, for which he currently serves as the director. Distinguished as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, he advises governments, companies, and international organisations on how to navigate the geopolitical landscape. He also wrote two books, Why Europe will run the 21st Century (2005) and What does China think? (2008).
Kishore Mahbubani (Singapore, 1948) is a political scientist, writer, and former diplomat. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore, and served as Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. His books, Has the West Lost It? (2018) and Has China Won? (2020) discuss the decline of European and US power and the rise of China and India on the world stage.
Lucas De Man (Belgium) is a Flemish artist, director, and TV-presenter who specializes in performance pieces. In his work, he tries to transform public space to facilitate openness and vulnerability. He was selected as the first artist in residence of the Rabobank in 2017-2018, and was guest curator for Theater aan Zee in 2019.
Francesca Melandri (Italy, 1964) is an Italian author, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker. Her novels, such as her award-winning debut Eva Sleeps (2010) and Sangue giusto (2017, translated into Dutch under the name De lange weg naar Rome), deal with themes such as regional identity, Italy’s national identity, and its amnesia with respect to its fascist and colonial past.
Douglas Murray (United Kingdom, 1979) is a British conservative author, journalist, and political commentator. He works as editor for The Spectator and wrote multiple books, such as Neoconservatism: Why We Need It (2005), The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity (2019) and The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam (2017). The latter argues that Europe civilisation is complicit in its own demise, allowing mass migration into its continent and lacking confidence in its “beliefs, traditions, and legitimacy.”
Taslima Nasrin (Bangladesh, 1962) is an international author, feminist, human rights activist, and Islam critic. Originally a physicist, Nasrin switched to writing poetry and prose. Her unflinching criticism of female oppression and Islam led to forced exile and multiple fatwas calling for her death.
Kalypso Nicolaïdis (France/Greece, 1962) is a Professor of International Relations and director at the Centre for International Studies at the university of Oxford. She is currently engaged in the European Demoi-cracy research project, which seeks to redefine the European Union as a project of peoples rather than states. She has written and co-authored a number of books including Echoes of Empire: The Present of Europe’s Colonial Pasts (2014) and most recently Exodus, Reckoning, Sacrifice: Three Meanings of Brexit (2019).
Natalie Nougayrède (France, 1966) is a French journalist. She became known as a correspondent for Le Monde for her prize-winning coverage of the Second Chechen War and the 2004 school siege in Beslan, Russia. In 2013, she became the first-ever female executive and managing editor of Le Monde. Now she is an editor and columnist for The Guardian. She is currently on a fellowship at the Berlin-based Robert Bosch Academy where she researches ‘A Pan-European Media’.
Danièle Obono (Gabon/France, 1980) is an ecosocialist politician serving as a member of the National Assembly for Paris’s 17th constituency since 2017. She is a member of political party La France insoumise founded by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and as secretary of the Committee for European Affairs, she contributes to France’s European policy. With her party, she helps to organize meetings between residents of poor areas and activists, mobilizing people to engage in politics at a local level.
Johny Pitts (United Kingdom, 1987) is an author, presenter, poet, photographer, and musician, performing music with the Bare Knuckle Soul Collective. He recently wrote the book ‘Afropean: Notes from Black Europe’, part of the larger Afropean project which attempts to explore the interaction between black and European cultures in diverse ways including photography, performance and film. In the book, Pitts travels through a number of European cities, searching for a culture that embraces blackness and is yet fundamentally of Europe.
Robert Putnam (United States, 1941) is an American political scientist. He is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. Putnam wrote fourteen books, including the bestseller Bowling Alone. The Collapse and Revival of American Community. His forthcoming book The Upswing explores the history and possible future of individualism and polarization in the US. The London Sunday Times has called him “the most influential academic in the world today.”
Claudia Roden (United Kingdom/Egypt, 1936) is a culinary writer and cultural anthropologist who specialises in Mediterranean cuisines and is best known for popularising Middle Eastern cooking. “A dish is not just a dish. For exiles especially, it is about roots and identity. It is charged with emotional baggage and gives comfort and joy.”
Benjamin Roll (Czech, 1985) is the co-founder of the movement Million Moments for Democracy. Benjamin Roll helped to draw over a quarter of a million people to a demonstration against Prime Minister Babis in June 2019. Those were the largest since the Velvet Revolution. But the aims of the Czech activist are larger: “If more and more people will find a moment for democracy — a small gesture — it will change something in society.”
Fernando Sánchez Castillo (1970, Spain), the artist behind the iconic Tank Man (2013) explores the relationships between history and politics, art and power, public space and collective memory and their manifestations in the form of monuments. He is among today’s most prominent Spanish artists.
Mattia Santori (Italy) is an activist and one of the main organizers of The Sardines movement in Italy. The movement is a calm form of protest in which participants stand close to each other, packed together like sardines. It seeks to calmly protest against the harsh rhetoric of the popular far-right politician Matteo Salvini. The participants do not align themselves with any particular political party, and seek to reduce polarization with their unity.
Géraldine Schwarz (France/Germany, 1974) is a journalist, author, and documentary filmmaker based in Berlin. Her novel Les Amnésiques (“The Amnesiacs”, 2017) draws on her family heritage – her grandparents were a Nazi Party member and a gendarme under the Vichy regime – and pleas for a confrontation with our past in order to prevent the resurgence of right wing extremism in today’s Europe. It won her the 2018 European Book Prize.
Mathieu Segers (Netherlands, 1967) is Professor of Contemporary European History and European Integration, and the dean of University College of Maastricht. He writes columns for Het Financieele Dagblad and De Groene Amsterdammer and has a weekly radio contribution to NPO 1 on Europe. He wrote a number of books, including Reis naar het continent, Nederland en de Europese integratie 1950 – heden (2013) and Europa en de terugkeer van de geschiedenis (2016), as well as co-authoring the book Re:Thinking Europe, Thoughts on Europe: Past, Present and Future (2016) on the occasion of the first Forum on European Culture.
Jonas Staal (Netherlands 1981) is a Dutch visual artist. His work deals with the relationship between art, democracy, and propaganda. “…emancipatory politics should be collective and transparent; you’re building processes in which you create new stories. Not the false mythology of a return to a sovereign and “pure” People that never existed in the first place, but a future yet to be won as a people-in-the-making”.
Simon Strauss (Germany, 1988) is a historian and author as well as a writer for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He is the initiator of the European Archive of Voices, an initiative to preserve the original vision and importance of the European project by talking to public intellectuals born in the first half of the twentieth century. He seeks to develop a vision that is focused on the promise and ideals of the European project, rather than the technocratic and material benefits it provides.
Karolina Wigura (Poland, 1980) is a sociologist and historian of ideas. She has a particular focus on the interaction between emotions such as loss, guilt and empathy, and historical and political developments. She is a co-founder of Kultura Liberalna, a Polish weekly journal focused on cultural, intellectual and political topics. She is also an assistant professor of the department of Sociology at Warsaw University, and currently a visiting fellow at the institute for advanced study in Berlin.
Pawel Wodziński (Poland, 1968) is a director, essayist, and curator. He founded and leads Towarzystwo Teatralne, an association promoting contemporary, socially engaged theater, and directs the Warsaw Biennale, which supports the role of art in shaping public debate. Wodziński has written dozens of performance pieces and has published articles on theater in various Polish periodicals.