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Student Conference "Reckoning with the Recent Past in Post-Dictatorial Societies"

CAS 17/03/2011

Call for Papers

Student Conference: Reckoning with the Recent Past in Post-Dictatorial Societies
May 13-14, 2011

Department of Political Science, University of Bucharest
Deadline for submitting the abstract: March 30, 2011


The challenges of reckoning with the recent past differ from one post-dictatorial society to another, shaping new values, principles, or juridical norms on which democracy is to be built. As Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan underline in their study, the implications of transitions and of democratic consolidations are more complex than the simple movement from a nondemocratic to a democratic regime. Such periods are defined by analytic efforts of understanding the former regime, both with regard to the mechanisms of repression that allowed for its perpetuation, and to the manner in which citizens built mechanisms of accommodation to it. Furthermore, periods of transition entail also pragmatic, institutional, choices for drawing a line between the past and the present, so as the new political and social order becomes credible (Claus Offe).

In a broad sense, transitional justice envisions a multitude of practices and methods of dealing with, investigating, re-evaluating, or correcting the errors of the former regime (Lavinia Stan). Considering this, the juridical and political responses are linked to a specific understanding of justice in transition, including, non-exhaustively, measures of access to archives, establishment of historical commissions for the study of the past, criminal investigation of former perpetrators, temporary exclusion from public offices of the former political elite or of former collaborators of the secret police, or the restitution of the property seized by the former regime. Critical inquiries, the re-evaluation and confrontation of the past contribute to imagining the political and juridical instruments that allow democracy to find ways of expression. Moreover, the problematic of memory becomes one of significant relevance in building a democratic community, as no viable democracy can be born out of negation, amnesia, or forgetfulness of past crimes, abuses, and errors (Vladimir Tismaneanu).

The student conference organized by the Department of Political Science, University of Bucharest, in collaboration with the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (Bucharest) and Università di Bologna - Forlì (the European project Me 2 EU : From Memory to Europe), is an invitation to reflect upon the different choices and methods of reckoning with the past in post-dictatorial societies.

We welcome original theoretical and empirical studies, individually or collectively conducted, which are able to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue on the following (but not restricted to) themes:

- Memory and democracy: Dealing with the recent past in post-communist European societies;
- Transitional justice mechanisms and practices;
- The role of different socio-political actors in the enactment and enforcement of transitional justice mechanisms and practices (political parties, civil society, historical commissions, etc.);
- Policies, practices, instruments, and institutions administering the relation with the recent past;
- Policies and politics of memory. The political stake in administering the recent past;
- Historical narratives about the recent past (in the public discourse, history handbooks, programs of political parties, jurisprudence, etc.)
- Memorials and lieux de mémoire;
- The nostalgia of the former regime. Explanations and interpretations;
- The status of minorities in post-dictatorial societies
- The relation between the legal systems of the former and current regimes:
- The problematic of the victim in transitional justice.

We particularly welcome the contributions of students enrolled in the final years of BA and MA studies in social sciences: political science, anthropology, sociology, and law.

The conference will take place at the Political Science Department, University of Bucharest: 8, Spiru Haret Street, 010175, Bucharest (District 1), Romania.

For participation, please submit an abstract (in English or French) of no more than 300 words, and a brief CV to , by March 30. Mention if partial funding for travel and accommodation costs is needed (currently available funding is very limited).

The selected papers (cca. 20, 000 - 25, 000 characters) should be submitted by May 7th. The languages of the conference will be English and French. However, the final paper can be written in Romanian, English, or French.

The conference is organized in partnership with Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie; The Policy Center for Roma and Minorities, Bucharest; Europe Direct CENTRAS, Bucharest.

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