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COMMENTS 

The Democratic Disconnect

In the eurozone, the EU needs greater legitimacy at the national level not only to secure space for domestic politics but also to secure respect for social and economic commitments over time.
Prof. Albert Weale
24 November 2014 More...

Starts: Nov 24, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Europe: Six decades of strife and controversy for UK

It's groundhog day in Britain, where the European Union is concerned. The context changes, but the basic issues do not.
Sir Stephen Wall
18 November 2014 More...

Starts: Nov 18, 2014 12:00:00 AM

The 9 November poll in Catalonia

The recent Scottish referendum set a precedent in contemporary Europe by seeking to deliver, in agreement between Westminster and Holyrood, a binding decision on Scotland's future. The 'participatory process' that took place in Catalonia on 9 November could not be more different. Why is this so, what are its consequences, and where might we be heading?
Dr Claire Colomb
Dr Uta Staiger

13 November 2014
More...

Starts: Nov 13, 2014 12:00:00 AM

The Art of the Impossible: Culture, Philosophy and Dissent from Havel to the Present

Publication date: Jan 18, 2012 7:25:45 PM

Start: May 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM
End: May 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM

23-25 May 2013

When:
23-25 May 2013

Where:
Christopher Ingold LT
20 Gordon Street
WC1H 0AJ

A conference organized by the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies

Registration

AoI
This, then, is Havel’s tragedy: his authentic ethical stance has become a moralising idiom cynically appropriated by the knaves of capitalism. His heroic insistence on doing the impossible has ended up serving those who ‘realistically’ argue that any real change in today’s world is impossible.’  Slavoj Žižek

On 23 December 2011, the funeral mass of Václav Havel was celebrated with a degree of ceremony that not only commemorated his personal achievement but also signalled the end of an era.  Havel’s death apparently confirmed the transformation of one of the most astonishing events in post-war Europe—the collapse of Communism—from living memory into complete historical narrative.  Yet, the dramatic story of 1970s and 80s dissidents and the path to 1989—this story of private individuals helping to bring about what seemed impossible—has assumed ever greater relevance to the present.

Today, the structures that appeared to have triumphed in 1989, and in what followed, are now themselves the subjects of contestation in, inter alia, the Arab Spring, China’s Charter 08, Greek anti-austerity protests, Wikileaks and pirate parties, and the Occupy Movement.  Thus, a triumphalist narrative, with its implied ‘they all lived happily ever after’, cannot provide the end to the story.  Rather than a closed chapter, ‘East European dissidence’ and its conception of politics as the art of the impossible appear an open book.

This conference seeks to identify the political, cultural, and philosophical questions that underlie ‘East European dissidence’ and to consider their implications for dissent today.  

Opening remarks by HE Michal Žantovský, Czech Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Speakers: Tim Beasley-Murray (UCL), Jonathan Bolton (Harvard), Svetlana Boym (Harvard), Paulina Bren (Vassar), Peter Bugge (Aarhus), Tamara Caraus (Bucharest), Padraic Kenney (Indiana), Klara Kemp-Welch (Courtauld), James Krapfl (McGill), Martin Palouš (Prague), Delia Popescu (LeMoyne), Martin Putna (Prague), Mikołaj Rakusa-Suszczewski (Warsaw), Tom Rowley (Cambridge), Jacques Rupnik (Paris), Charles Sabatos (Istanbul), Avi Tucker (Texas), Veronika Tuckerova (Texas), Kieran Williams (Drake), Peter Zusi (UCL).

Registration:    

  • £50 general
  • £25 student (non-UCL)
  • Free for members of UCL community

For information, email Dr Peter Zusi or Dr Tim Beasley-Murray

GCII colour

The event is supported by the UCL European Institute and the Grand Challenge of Intercultural Interaction.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL PROGRAMME.


SCHEDULE

 Day 1: Thursday 23 May -Dissent & the Moral Life: Legacies of Havel
9.00-9.45 Registration, Tea & Coffee
 
9.45-10.00
HE Michal Žantovský Opening Remarks
10.00-10.45 Jacques Rupnik (Sciences Po) Václav Havel and the Legacies of Dissent Revisited
10.45-11.30
Aviezer Tucker (UT Austin)
Living in Truth: Moral Authenticity as Dissent
11.30-12.15
Delia Popescu (Le Moyne) Lived Responsibility: Václav Havel’s Practical Approach to Private and Public Responsibility
12.15-1.30
Lunch
 
1.30-2.15
Kieran Williams (Drake) Havel’s Subversive Ohnisko
 2.15-3.00 James Krapfl (McGill)  Europe, 1989-2012: A Progress Report on the Global Revolution in the Sphere of Human Consciousness
 3.00-3.30  Tea & Coffee
 
 3.30-4.15 HE Martin Palouš (Knihovna Václava Havla) The Parallel Polis Thirty Years Later: Protecting Václav Havel’s Legacy for the 21st Century
Related event: Masaryk Lecture (7:30p.m.) at Slovak Embassy.
Kieran Williams: ‘The Past of Czechoslovakia—Not the Future of Britain?’
 Day 2: Friday 24 May - Thick Histories
9.30-10.15 Peter Bugge (Aarhus) Zooming In: Discovering and Defining Dissent in Svědectví before 1977
10.15-11.00 Jonathan Bolton (Harvard) Worlds of Dissent: Scenes from the Life of Charter 77
11.00-11.30 Tea & Coffee
 
11.30-12.15 Veronika Tuckerová (UT Austin) Thoroughly Possible: Ivan Martin Jirous’s “Merry Ghetto” and its Legacy
12.15-1.00 Charles Sabatos (Yeditepe University, Istanbul)
The Erotics of Dissince: Foreign Writers and Women in the Czech Underground
1.00-2.00 Lunch  
2.00-2.45 Tamara Caraus (New Europe College, Bucharest) From Charter 77 to Charter 2008: A Cosmopolitan Solidarity of Dissidents?’
2.45-3.30 Mikołaj Rakusa-Suszczewski (Warsaw) The NO LOGO Message: Polish Youth Against ACTA
3.30-3.50 Tea & Coffee
 
3.50-4.35 Padraic Kenney (Indiana) Who Controls the Square? Occupied Spaces & Democratic Transformation
6.00pm Baroness Sarah Ludford, MEP
Conference Reception, Europe House
 Day 3: Saturday 25 May - Aesthetics and Politics
10.00-10.45 Tea & Coffee
 
10.45-11.30 Peter Zusi (UCL)
Dissent at Rest: The Aesthetic Impulse to the Active Life
11.30-12.15 Tom Rowley (Cambridge)
Samizdat as Literary and Political Device: Evgenii Fedorov’s Deep Opposition
12.15-1.30 Lunch  
1.30-2.15 Tim Beasley-Murray (UCL)
Politics and Impossibility
2.15-3.00 Klara Kemp-Welch (Courtauld) Reticence as Dissidence? A Historiography of Antipolitics for Art History
3.00-3.30 Tea & Coffee
 
3.30-4.30 Svetlana Boym (Harvard) Arts of Dissent: From Sinyavsky to Pussy Riot