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Why we post: a global perspective on social media

How do people use social media in different parts of the world, and what are the implications? Professor Daniel Miller explains what a team of anthropologists found by sending 15 months each in nine small towns all over the world, comparing social media use. You can engage with their research through a variety of free online resources including UCL’s first massive open online course (MOOC) starting on 29th February, a series of open access books published by UCL Press, and a short video.
25 November 2015
Daniel Miller  More...

Starts: Nov 25, 2015 12:00:00 AM

Cameron - Banning Milk and Cheese

Pablo Echenique is one of the five Podemos members elected to the European Parliament in 2014, and currently running for parliament in the upcoming Spanish general election. On Monday 26 October, he was scheduled to talk at the UCL European Institute, however the event had to be cancelled when he ran into difficulties at the UK Border. Here, he explains the full story…
2 November 2015
Pablo Echenique

Starts: Nov 1, 2015 12:00:00 AM

Flights from Freedom

Eva Hoffman, former editor of The New York Times and Visiting Professor at the UCL European Institute, asks what propels individuals to turn to extremist movements and argues that we need to build a ‘culture of democracy’ with shared norms and ethics.
22 October 2015
Eva Hoffman More...

Starts: Oct 22, 2015 12:00:00 AM

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

Publication date: Jan 18, 2012 07:25 PM

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

23-25 May 2013

23-25 May 2013

Christopher Ingold LT
20 Gordon Street

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


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).


  • £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.



 Day 1: Thursday 23 May -Dissent & the Moral Life: Legacies of Havel
9.00-9.45 Registration, Tea & Coffee
HE Michal Žantovský Opening Remarks
10.00-10.45 Jacques Rupnik (Sciences Po) Václav Havel and the Legacies of Dissent Revisited
Aviezer Tucker (UT Austin)
Living in Truth: Moral Authenticity as Dissent
Delia Popescu (Le Moyne) Lived Responsibility: Václav Havel’s Practical Approach to Private and Public Responsibility
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