Earlier this week I travelled to Gdansk in Poland, where I met with festival organisers and theatre producers who would like to host South African theatre makers and other artists over the next few years. These are exciting prospects indeed — although not without complications. Walking through the old town in Gdansk, you might be tempted to make comparisons with other European cities that boast a combination of medieval history, contemporary urban creativity, streetside cafés, the quiet bustle of markets, the grandeur of arches and gables and towers and steeples (mostly reconstructed after the Second World War). The image of bella Europa has gone in and out of fashion over the past few hundred years. It seemed a decidedly false notion during those lengthy spells when the nation states of Europe were tearing each other apart in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was resurgent following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the establishment of the EU. Many in the postcolonial global South are...

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