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Category: Magazine

The disintegration train has left Brussels

A review of After Europe. By: Ivan Krastev. Publisher: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 2017.

Let me start this review with a disclaimer: the positive assessment of Ivan Krastev’s recent book is in no way related to the fact that the author is also a member of New Eastern Europe’s editorial board. It solely reflects the value of the publication and its relevance as it has been interpreted by the undersigned reviewer. That said, readers who are familiar with Krastev’s writings will not be surprised that his recent book, tellingly titled After Europe, focuses on disintegration rather than integration. They may even remember that on the pages of this magazine Krastev had written: “I know how things collapse; this is what I have been studying all my life. I was working on the Balkans and I know how they collapsed, and before that I studied how the Soviet Union had collapsed”.

October 31, 2017 - Iwona Reichardt

Putin’s long awaited opportunity, retaliation and revenge

A review of Putin's War against Ukraine: Revolution, nationalism and crime. By: Taras Kuzio. Publisher: CreateSpace Independent, in association with the Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Toronto, 2017.

When I first met Taras Kuzio during the Three Revolutions Symposium at the College of Europe’s Natolin Campus in Warsaw, I was impressed by his academic engagement. It was clear that he had given much thought to issues about Ukraine over the last 25 years, and while listening to the other speakers during the symposium, Kuzio illustrated his ability to assess key messages and I observed how he caught the most important arguments. His most recent book, Putin's War against Ukraine: Revolution, nationalism and crime, reflects Kuzio’s approach to research. It is suggestive of a mosaic of condensed facts, arguments and judgments – each of which contributes to a multi-dimensional picture.

October 31, 2017 - Ostap Kushnir

Cultural diplomacy at its best. Giedroyc in St Petersburg

A review of Ежи Гедройц: К Польше своей мечты (Jerzy Giedroyc. To a Poland of dreams). By: Magdalena Grochowska. Publisher: Ivan Limbach Publishing House, St Petersburg, 2017.

June 1st 2017 marked the 70th anniversary since the first issue of Kultura – a Polish-émigré magazine – was published by Instytut Literacki (the Literary Institute) in Paris. Without a doubt, Kultura was one of the most important Polish magazines of the post-war period. Focusing on politics, it deeply analysed the situation in Eastern Europe, paying great attention to literature and the role it played in the formation of citizenry. The first issue of the magazine was actually published in Rome. However in 1948 the editorial team relocated to Pairs where it stayed until Jerzy Giedroyc’s death in 2000. That date is tantamount to the closing down of Kultura as it was declared by Giedroyc in his will.

October 31, 2017 - Dorota Sieroń-Galusek

Legnica with a view to Russia

“Talking about Russia from a theatre stage in Legnica has much more meaning than in any other place in Poland,” says Jacek Głomb, who has been the director of the Modjeska Theatre in Legnica for the past 23 years. Legnica is a small town, located in Lower Silesia in western Poland with a population of about 100,000. It is no accident that for the 40th anniversary of the Polish theatrical stage in Legnica and the commemoration of the 175 years of the building’s existence, which will be celebrated this year, the theatre is preparing an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Demons.

October 31, 2017 - Grzegorz Żurawiński

The Czech paradox

Czechs are by definition more western and European (although not necessarily pro-European), more democratic, more liberal, wealthier and more emancipated than other Central Europeans. This megalomania, to a great extent, contributed to the success of the Czech transformation.

What did the Czechs give Europe? It would be much easier to answer this question if we knew what Europe is. If we think of it as the European Union, then the Czechs might be seen, for instance in Timothy Snyder’s view, as simply one of “ancient Habsburg peoples who abandoned great national projects of the 19th century in order to embrace the European idea of the 21st century”. Similar to other countries in the region, the Czech Republic, is a country too small to be able to conceive the notion of a sovereign existence; too poor in resources and educated elite to be able to survive in the times of globalisation; they aim for unification [since today] the indication of national success is not an independent state but EU membership, Snyder wrote in 2008.

October 31, 2017 - Aleksander Kaczorowski

At peace with ourselves

An interview with Martin Palouš, Czech diplomat and philosopher and one of the first signatories of Charter 77. Interviewer: Łukasz Grzesiczak

October 31, 2017 - Łukasz Grzesiczak Martin Palouš

Millennials versus statistics

The image which emerges from statistics depicts a Czech millennial who is similar to his or her peers in other European states, but not identical. Young Czechs differ from their European peers in terms of life priorities: enrichment and chasing certain trends are not as important for them. They are also quite tolerant and open to other nations, which is an exception in the Central European context.

Millennials, also called Generation Y, Generation “What?” and the “lost generation”, is a generation often thought of as the bogeyman for big corporations. Yet this is the generation which is beginning to set trends and have a real impact on global affairs. It encompasses those who were born between 1980 and 2000. It is a generation that has been shaped by social media and horrifying historical events: terrorist attacks and mass migration issues. Millennials are described as being flexible (e.g., frequently changing their careers and location, and easily adapting to new circumstances) and are critical, especially towards information and media. They are also referred to as the “relational” generation; they choose their friends by filtering them on Facebook based on common interests in music, literature or politics.

October 31, 2017 - Kinga Motyka

Czech-Polish relations. Past and future

The Czech-Polish relationship has been a very important one in building Central Europe’s success. Václav Havel already understood it in 1990. But the question is how much of Havel’s belief in Poland’s contribution is reflected in European politics today?

“We also know, of course, that the Polish Solidarity movement, led by Lech Wałęsa, was the first to find a peaceful and effective way to offer continuous resistance to the totalitarian system. Nor will we forget that it was you, the Polish Senate and the Sejm, who were the first – in the summer of last year – to condemn the shameful invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Allow me therefore to use this occasion to thank you and the entire Polish nation.” Václav Havel speech in the Polish Sejm and Senate, January 25th 1990

October 30, 2017 - Vít Dostál

Nothing has really changed

For me going back to the 1990s is a means to revisit my childhood memories. I have a lot in common with the characters of Cobain’s Students (Cobainovi žáci), my book about adolescence which was just published in Poland.

I was born in 1986 and grew up in a small town near the Austrian border. Until the age of eight, I lived in an estate block and I had lots of friends. I remember an old abandoned house which (at least in my imagination) was inhabited by some dark power. We used to send someone up there and they had to show up in the window on the second floor to prove that they had walked through the whole building. Today it is a veterinarian practice. For me the 1990s were not a decade of great transformation, or great history. I simply lived in those times and watched the world through the eyes of a child. Once our town was visited by Václav Havel; we saw him waving from the train and laughing. Never before had I seen such a crowd.

October 30, 2017 - Miroslav Pech

A friendship that bore fruit

An interview with Mirosław Jasiński, an activist of the democratic opposition in communist Poland and one of the leading activists of the Polish-Czechoslovak Solidarity. Interviewer: Zbigniew Rokita

ZBIGNIEW ROKITA: When did the post-war contacts between Polish and Czechoslovak opposition start?

MIROSŁAW JASIŃSKI: They started as early as 1948, when the communists took power in Czechoslovakia. That was the same year as the first meeting of Czechoslovak national socialists and the Polish People’s Party. In the next decades their co-operation included different areas: meetings at the highest level, smuggling literature and printing equipment, and active engagement with Polish students of the FAMU Prague Film Academy during the Prague Spring – Agnieszka Holland was among them. Artists who were banned in Czechoslovakia often had exhibitions in Poland. For decades the churches worked together and Czechoslovak priests and nuns were secretly ordained in Poland.

October 30, 2017 - Mirosław Jasiński Zbigniew Rokita

Issue 5/2017: Homo post-sovieticus

Stories of an unfinished transformation Anyone interested in Central and Eastern Europe understands that this region is far from monolithic, also in the implementation (or lack thereof) of western economic and political systems. At the same time we cannot deny there is something idiosyncratic about the former Soviet bloc, something which links its societies together. Either through common experience or history (or both).

October 7, 2017 - New Eastern Europe

Traces of the Soviet Union

Is talking about a post-Soviet reality justified? Or is it more of an offence? Does the term “post-Soviet” even make sense today – 26 years since the Soviet Union collapsed? Political scientists tend to answer this question with a “no”. Yet, the works of a collective of photographers, known as Sputnik Photos, show that what we are seeing now is something of a “Soviet afterlife”.

In early April this year I attended a presentation in Berlin of a photo project titled Lost Territories. The project was carried out between 2008 and 2016 by a group of photographers, collectively referred to as Sputnik Photos. During the Berlin event one of the photographers, a Pole named Michał Łuczak, presented the main purpose of the project. His presentation was followed by a discussion with a Russian writer, Sergey Lebedev and me. During the conversation we came to the conclusion that the greatest value of the project did not lie in the artistic quality of the photographs or the interesting travel recollections that were shared by the photographers. Rather, it was how it captured the traces of the Soviet Empire, both material and non-material, which can still be found today in what some call the post-Soviet space. Does this fact mean the Soviet Union, which formally ceased to exist over a quarter century ago, has survived, despite conventional wisdom? Or perhaps, its death is a slow and painful process?

October 4, 2017 - Wojciech Górecki

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