Europe ’89: The promise recalled
30th European Meeting of Cultural Journals Berlin, 1–3 November 2019
Gemeinsam mit Eurozine, den Partnerzeitschriften Blätter Verlag, der Zeitschrift Osteuropa und der Heinricht-Böll-Stiftung laden wir Sie herzlich ein zur Teilnahme an der Konferenz: Europe ’89: The promise recalled.
Vor dreißig Jahren fand eine Zeitenwende statt. Das Engagement mutiger Menschen in Mittel- und Osteuropa verband sich mit dem Druck der Straße und kulminierte in einer Welle größtenteils friedlicher Revolutionen. Die internationale Konferenz „Europe '89“ erinnert an deren Träume, Hoffnungen und Ideen.
Wir diskutieren über die Erfolge und Niederlagen von 1989, Migration und Solidarität in Europa und fragen u.a. Claus LEGGEWIE, Helena MARSCHALL von Fridays for Future und die ungarische Aktivistin Dóra PAPP, wie man heute Populist*innen und Autokraten entgegentreten kann.
Die Konferenz findet statt am:
1. November 2019, 18:30-20:15
Schumannstraße 8, 10117 Berlin,
2. November 2019, 09:15-19:45
Schumannstraße 8, 10117 Berlin
3. November 2019, 10:00-11:15
Schumannstraße 8, 10117 Berlin
Die Teilnahme ist kostenfrei, allerdings ist eine Registrierung erforderlich: https://calendar.boell.de/de/event/europe-89-promise-recalled. Bitte entnehmen Sie weitere Details dem Programm.
Die Konferenz wird durch die Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (bpb) sowie das Programm Kreatives Europa der Europäischen Union kofinanziert.
Veranstaltungsprogramm (PDF, 218 kB)
Bericht: Simon Garnett
Fotos: Stephan Röhl
The 30th European Meeting of Cultural Journals took place in Berlin, Germany from 1 to 3 November 2019. The meeting was organized by Eurozine, together with Berlin-based Eurozine partner journals Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik and Osteuropa /DGO, and in cooperation with Heinrich Böll Foundation. It was co-funded by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. The conference brought together representatives of Eurozine’s partner journals and associates, journalists, researchers and other culture and media professionals. Parts of the conference program were open to the public. In all, more than 400 people attended the event.
This year’s Meeting, entitled ‘Europe ’89: The promise recalled’, recalled the ideas expressed in the revolutionary year of 1989 and retraced the development of Europe since. Scholars, writers and activists reflected on the successes, but also the failures of the last three decades. And where better to do so than in Berlin, a city whose identity is uniquely bound up with the history of division and reunification?
The keynote, entitled ‘For an open country with free people: Germany and Europe 30 years after 1989’, was given by the poet and essayist Durs GRÜNBEIN, in conversation with the cultural and literary scholar Aleida ASSMANN. Grünbein recalled the hopes and fears of the protesters in the GDR – how, amidst the euphoria, the fear of another Tiananmen loomed large in their minds – and how state socialism’s sudden end left a void soon to be filled by new, national narratives. Assmann offered reflections on how ’89 had brought a transnational revolution in memory and historiography, not only as the archives opened in the East but also in the West. Taking questions from the floor, the panelists discussed the impacts of ’89 on east Germany New Right, the meaning of ’89 for ‘European identity’, and what that year signifies for those on the EU’s peripheries – Ukraine, the Middle East – who are still waiting for their moment of freedom.
Moving to the canteen of the daily newspaper die taz, participants heard a reading by the journalist Ulrich GUTMAIR from his book ‘The sound of Berlin’: recollections of Berlin nightlife in the early 1990s, a period of freedom and self-discovery as musical subcultures thrived in a city still untouched by real estate development.
After a round of introductions from Réka Kinga PAPP (Editor-in-Chief, Eurozine), Ellen UEBERSCHÄR (President, Heinrich Böll Foundation), Thomas KRÜGER (President, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung), Daniel LEISEGANG (Editor, Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik) and Volker WEICHSEL (Editor, Osteuropa), the first part of the Saturday program, entitled ‘The promise’, began with a talk by the historian of eastern Europe, Karl SCHLÖGEL. The processes set in motion by the disintegration of the socialist economy in Eastern Europe eluded all analytical frameworks, he argued. It was a time of ‘wild thinking’, in which received ideas were reconsidered and values re-assessed. We are still living through this troubled era, Schlögel cautioned: fighting the fights of the present is harder than revisiting the fights of the past.
His reflections were followed up in discussion with Karolina WIGURA, historian and editor of the Polish journal Kulturna Liberalna. The conversation focused on the intergenerational aspects of the legacy of ’89, particularly on processes of politicization and depoliticization. Wigura argued that in Poland, the political idiom of the liberal generation formed by the repressions of 1968 had come adrift from political realities, as a new wave of protest (black protests / candle protests) comes to the fore. Younger eastern Europeans, she argued, were rebelling against an ‘older generation with nothing left to say’. Schlögel responded by critiquing a ‘culture of suspicion’ at German universities, referring to the recent wave of intimidation and defamation of prominent older academics by a small but vocal far-left section of the student body. Both were able to agree on Schlögel’s key premise that understanding ’89 ‘phenomenologically’ meant departing from rigid analytical schemes; and that the focus on ‘strongmen’ obscured the view for undercurrents of social change.
Historians Ferenc LACZÓ and Luka Lisjak GABRIJELČIČ (editor of the Slovene journal Razpotja) began the afternoon section of the program, entitled ‘Reality check’, with an introduction to the volume ‘The Legacy of Division’ (CEU Press 2019), an anthology of articles published in the Eurozine focal point of the same name.
Their talk was followed by a panel on ‘Belonging in Europe: Nation state, sovereignty and solidarity’, with Jan PLAMPER (historian, University of London), Susan NEIMAN (moral philosopher; director, Einstein Forum) and Gary YOUNGE (journalist, author and broadcaster). Younge began with an impressive set of reflections on Brexit – the price Britain is paying for the failure to hold an honest discussion about immigration, multiculturalism and Empire. That said, it would be a mistake to think that the UK’s problems are without equivalent elsewhere, Younge concluded. The subsequent discussion circled around failures of the Left since ’89 to articulate a positive set of ideals (Neiman), a concept of civic nationhood (Plamper) and a grand narrative of Europe (Younge).
The historian Philipp THER then took the floor to discuss the effects of the economic restructuring on the European project and more the impacts of crisis of the 2008/2010. Ther’s central thesis: contra the myths of ‘shock therapy’, transformation was not a one-way street. Rather, it is best defined as a set of ‘neoliberal feedback loops’ between East and West. Transnational convergences accompanied growing internal inequalities, the partial success of neoliberalism taking their toll on peripheries. Today, the pull of populism rests on the promise to protect the losers of neoliberalism from economic relegation, raising the question (unanswered): why did the pendulum not swing to the democratic left?
The final part of the Saturday program sought to ‘recall’ the promise of ’89 by ‘bringing it into the present’. The political scientist Claus LEGGEWIE discussed the future of protest movements with activists Dóra PAPP (civic campaigner, Hungary), Radu VANCU (‘We See You’ Movement, Romania) and Helena MARSCHALL (Fridays For Future, Germany). Reflecting on connections between protest, parliamentary forces and social change, the panelists talked about the different types of issue they are addressing in their campaigning: coordinating a fragmented and disoriented opposition through election ‘primaries’ held online (Papp); pressurizing government to withdraw an emergency decree decriminalizing corruption (Vancu); and demanding effective policymaking on climate change in 120 countries simultaneously (Marschall). Numerous members of the audience took up the invitation to join the panel and share their own experiences of activism.
The final conference day begun with a discussion between Ivan KRASTEV (political scientist, Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna) and Holly CASE (historian, Brown University) on ‘The light that failed? Liberal democracy and Eastern Europe’. Krastev recalled the excitement of entering an opening system, the sudden encounter with historical context and the experience of simultaneous cohabitation with the West. Recalling her own fragmentary memories of post-socialist Hungary, Case questioned relations between the ‘creation of the real’ and the ‘role of the material’. Krastev, elaborating on the core theses of his book, talked about the failures of modernization theory and deterministic models of development, as states emerging from socialism rebelled against the compulsion to imitate the West.
Outside the public parts of the conference, Eurozine partner editors shared experiences and discussed editorial and publishing matters, with a plenum meeting on the Friday afternoon, chaired by Eurozine's managing director Filip ZIELINSKI, and a set of workshops on the Sunday. Workshop topics included ‘cultural journals and social media’, ‘advocating for cultural journals’ and more.
For videos of all panels visit: www.eurozine.com/berlin2019