The fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe brought with it new challenges and opportunities for civil society formations. Finally groups had the chance to organise themselves away from the intrusive eye of state censorship, and operate in new ways. Over the last 25 years or so a wide variety of organisations have burst onto the scene dealing with a host of issues neglected/repressed by authoritarian state socialism in the region. At the same time the removal of state socialism has caused challenges to fledgling civil society formations as groups have been forced to become adept at finding sources of funding and have become involved in clashes over meaning between those with more progressive/liberal attitudes and those representing more conservative/nationalist outlooks.
Our one-day workshop positions itself within this opportunity/challenge dichotomy for civil society formations in the Visegrad group of countries which experienced post-2004 EU expansion. By doing so the conference hopes to assist new ways of understanding processes of democratic transition in the Central European region and post-Soviet Space. It also seeks to understand how authorities, individuals and groups interact in this new post-Communist transitional environment. The workshop’s specific focus is on the transformation of civic space in the cities of the CEE region as it is in large urban settlements where the pace of change has been at its quickest.
In the process it aims to answer a number of key questions:
- In what areas of civil society has there been the greatest rate of change since 1989?
- In what ways have civil society organisations adapted to the challenges/opportunities of the free market?
- What have been the biggest obstacles in reclaiming/re-energising city space in the post-Communist era?
- To what extent have city authorities aided/halted the transformation of city space since the fall of the Eastern bloc?
- How have local communities themselves reacted to changes in the city-scape since 1989?
We would be particularly interested in receiving paper proposals which refer to the questions stated above but we especially welcome papers regarding the following areas:
- Sport/Activities in the city – Critical Mass cycling events, Business/charity runs
- Communities of Memory (City traditions, tour-guides, city branding, marches, monuments)
- NGO organizational activity in the city – humanitarian actions, multiculturalism and tolerance
- City landscaping and the influence of city authorities
The Department of Government Studies at Lazarski University, Warsaw invites graduate students and more established researchers to submit their proposals regarding the above themes. We also welcome proposals from research areas not laid out above as long as they are broadly in line with the themes of the conference. Our general focus is on the Visegrad group but if your research deals with City transformation in other areas of Eastern Europe it will also be considered.
Scholars wishing to participate should send a 250 word abstract along with a short academic CV to Dr. Christopher Lash christopherglash at gmail.com and Dr. Iryna Polets iryna.polets at gmail.com no later than 31 March 2017. Selected participants will be informed soon after.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Christopher Lash or Dr. Iryna Polets.