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Thinking Together in Kyiv

From May 16-19, Slavenka Drakulić will participate in a meeting Thinking Together in Kyiv. See the programe here.

piano_big Kyiv

It was announced in Eurozine.

Ukraine: Thinking Together

This is an encounter between those who care about freedom and a country where freedom is dearly won. This year Ukraine has seen protests, revolution, and a counter-revolution from abroad. When millions of people gathered to press for the rule of law and closer ties to Europe, the Yanukovych regime answered with violence. Vladimir Putin offered the Ukrainian government money to clear the streets and join Russia in a Eurasian project. Yanukovych criminalized civil society, which only broadened the protests. Then the police began to kill the protestors in large numbers. This brought revolution, a shift of political power to parliament, and the promise of free elections. Russian authorities reacted by invading Crimea, sending provocateurs into eastern Ukraine, threatening to dismember the country, and suppressing Russian civil society. Ukraine today, like Czechoslovakia in 1938, is a pluralist society amidst authoritarian regimes, a fascinating and troubled country poorly understood by its neighbors. It is also home to an extraordinary tradition of civil society, and to gifted writers, thinkers, and artists, many of whom, reflecting on the Maidan, have raised in new ways fundamental questions about political representation and the role of ideas in politics. In the middle of May, an international group of intellectuals will come to Kyiv to demonstrate solidarity, meet their Ukrainian counterparts, and carry out a broad public discussion about the meaning of Ukrainian pluralism for the future of Europe, Russia, and the world. The Maidan and reactions to it, in Ukraine and abroad, raise classical and contemporary questions of politics and ethics. How can human rights be grounded and how are we motivated by the idea of human rights? How and when does language provide access to the universal, and how and when does it define political difference? Are some experiences so intense that they alter the character of intellectual exchange as such? How is decency in politics possible amidst international anarchy, domestic corruption, and the general fallibility of individuals? Does revolution renew Europe and revive political thought or can revolution, like everything else, be consumed by the clichés and abstractions of globalization? What does the revival of geopolitics mean for the world order? Is the Maidan an eruption of youth or an expression of history? Does its memory bring Ukrainians closer to European preoccupations, or introduce constellations that confound myths? These will be the subjects of our seven panels, in all of which international and local intellectuals will meet. The discussions will take place in Ukrainian, Russian, German, Polish, French, and English, and in all panels at least one person, including those traveling from the west, will be speaking a language that is not his or her own mother tongue. In this way we hope to express our respect for language as such, and to demonstrate, in a small way, solidarity to Ukrainians and others who speak multiple languages. In expressing ourselves in other languages we also stress that the universal themes require a special sort of work from all of us, a labor that we hope will be rewarded by understanding and friendship.

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