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COMMENTS 

From Indyref to Indignados: how passions and politics mix

As Scotland heads to the polls, this piece discusses the extent to which emotions have arrived at the heart of contemporary politics – yet we still hesitate to admit it. Emotions can neither be banished nor ignored when we discuss what constitutes political communities, how political decisions should be made and political action springs into being. Yet to embrace the rise of emotional politics without acknowledging how intimately it is and should be entangled with reason equally risks undermining just political action.
Dr Uta Staiger
18 September 2014
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Starts: Sep 18, 2014 12:00:00 AM

10 things you need to know about what will happen if Scotland votes yes

As the Scottish independence referendum draws closer the outcome is hard to predict. Both Westminster politicians and the wider public are asking what – in practical terms – would happen if the Scots were to vote Yes. Robert Hazell offers a 10-point overview of what the road to independence might look like.
Professor Robert Hazell
9 September 2014
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Starts: Sep 9, 2014 12:00:00 AM

The truth is, Scandinavia is neither heaven nor hell

The Nordic countries have received exceptionally good press in the UK - at least until earlier this year, when British travel writer and resident of Denmark, Michael Booth, claimed to dispel the of Scandinavia as the perfect place to live. Many are now confused. Is everything we believed about the social ideals of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland a lie? Well, not entirely but we’re not all drunk serial killers either.
Dr Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen
19 August 2014 More...

Starts: Sep 8, 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