International Summer School 2014: ‘Societies in Transition. Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe between Conflict and Reconciliation’ (22-28 August, 2014 — Jena, Germany)

The transformation processes that began in the 1980s in the Soviet Union and East Central Europe changed the political and social landscape, raising different questions about conflict and reconciliation. In the attempt to come to terms with past injustices debates and crises within the respective societies occurred, persisting until today and obstructing the growing together of a peaceful Europe. Those debates include issues such as how to deal with ethnical, religious and national rights, claims of sovereignty, minorities, political repression and collective or individual experiences of violence. The historical backgrounds of the different countries shape the way in which transformation has taken and takes place, what kind of conflicts may or may not appear and if and how reconciliation is possible.

Taking place from 22 – 28 August in Jena, Germany, the Summer School will be held by the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies (JCRS) in cooperation with the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe – Institute of the Leibniz Association, the Geschichtswerkstatt Jena e.V. and the Collegium Europaeum Jenense (CEJ).

The Summer School will offer a platform for experts and young scholars to share their knowledge and experience. The key lectures, held by renowned experts on Peace, Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation Studies will address a selection of countries in East Central Europe (Soviet Union, Poland, Germany, Belarus, Baltic States) and their debates about the past and the possibilities for a peaceful future in post-socialist Europe. In the seminars, participants of the Summer School will give presentations and submit their papers for discussion, investigating multi-ethnic and multi-religious centres of conflict in East Central Europe.

Two workshops will be offered during the Summer School, allowing the participants to gather insight into the practical application of reconciliation work and into critical approaches of dealing with the past. Thematically, the first workshop will focus on the work of the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, a Polish-German intermediary organisation that facilitates reconciliation in Eastern Europe, in the aftermath of 1945. The second workshop will concentrate on the Comparative Study of Reconciliation Practices in international perspective.

Some of the key questions that will be discussed during the event:

  • What do reconciliations processes in East Central Europe look like? In what way are they different from reconciliation processes in South America, Africa and Asia?
  • Are there universal mechanisms in conflict perception and reconciliation and how can they be integrated in transformation and reconciliation studies?
  • How does the exclusion of groups of victims, based on ethnicity or religion, manifest itself in different cultures? What are the mechanisms that let cultures reaffirm their reasons for not making up for past injustices (e.g. redemption, compensation, apologies, recognition, reconciliation processes)?
  • What role does identity construction have in overcoming perpetual violence? How can the involvement of third-party actors help create a base for reconciliation in the middle of strife?

Participants will present their projects in panels. Interdisciplinary projects are preferred. The workshops will be held to give some practical applications of the practices on reconciliation, historical memory, conflict transformation and peace studies. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to participate in a cultural programme within the city of Jena and the surrounding region.

Please find the CfA here: H-Soz-u-Kult

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