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Political Evils
The Iron Curtain and its Legacies

Friday 3rd July 2020 – Saturday 4th July 2020
Bratislava, Slovakia

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” – Winston Churchill, 5 March 1946


The ‘iron curtain’ has come to be associated with a host of social, political and cultural evils perpetrated by the Soviet-backed Communist regimes that ruled countries in central and eastern Europe from the end of the Second World War until the early 1990s. Behind the iron curtain, state control over every aspect of daily life gave rise to corruption, oppression, deprivation, ethnic conflict, censorship, and general atmosphere of isolation from western democracies and a deep paranoia about western hegemony. Nearly three decades after waves of citizen-led democratic revolutions washed over the former Communist bloc, leaving newly independent nations in their wake, the iron curtain and its legacy continues to leave an indelible mark on contemporary geopolitical relations as well as the socio-cultural development of communities affected both directly and indirectly by the breakup of the Soviet Union. Even popular culture reflects an ongoing preoccupation with the iron curtain era, as evidenced by the popularity of television series such as Chernobyl and The Americans.

Of course, it is possible to identify contemporary echoes of the power dynamics that underpinned the iron curtain. Evidence has confirmed reports of Russian meddling in United States elections in 2016 and 2018 as well as in the 2016 referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain in the European Union. Human rights abuses in Russia and the 2014 annexation of the Crimea by the Russian Federation have triggered international outrage, with the latter action being punished by Russia’s expulsion from the G7. Recent elections around the world have granted power to far-right political parties and political leaders with authoritarian ambitions that are have been compared to the dictatorial regimes that ruled the former Communist bloc countries. In an era where quality journalism is delegitimised, pro-Government propaganda is promoted as ‘truth’, democratic processes are undermined, education and research are marginalised, the arts and other platforms for dissent are neutralised, and laws are enacted to disenfranchise and discriminate against certain groups, we are once again bearing witness to the evils associated with the iron curtain.

At the same time, it is important to acknowledge any benefits that arose from the Communist regimes who took power at a time when post-war Europe was healing and rebuilding itself. Actions that may seem evil when considered in terms of the values and assumptions of Western democracies may be understood differently when viewed from other perspectives. It is therefore important to abandon the Manichean views of good and evil that prevailed during the heyday of the Communist bloc, and instead strive for more nuanced evaluations of the evils of the iron curtain and its legacy.

Key Topics

Accordingly, this project aims to provide a platform for interdisciplinary engagement arising from presentations, papers, panels, workshops, readings, performances, screenings and installations on any aspect of the iron curtain and its legacy. Potential topics for exploration include, but are not limited to:

  • ghost towns (e.g. Chernobyl) and former military basis
  • religion in totalitarian states
  • technology, industry and innovation behind the iron curtain
  • purges, persecution and punishment
  • evil in medicine (e.g. banning of abortions in Romania)
  • dissent, rebellion, uprising
  • diaries, letters, oral histories and personal accounts (Samizdat)
  • education and the role of schools in supporting ‘evil’
  • contemporary tourist attractions and their meaning (e.g. remnants of Berlin Wall, Lenin’s Mausoleum)
  • lessons to be learned from the iron curtain era
  • parallels between the iron curtain era and the contemporary political climate
  • depictions of the iron curtain era in film, photography, literature, music and visual arts

What To Send

The aim of this inclusive interdisciplinary conference and collaborative networking event is to bring people together and encourage creative conversations in the context of a variety of formats: papers, seminars, workshops, storytelling, performances, poster presentations, problem-solving sessions, case studies, panels, q&a’s, round-tables etc. Creative responses to the subject, such as poetry/prose, short film screenings/original drama, installations and alternative presentation styles that engage the audience and foster debate are particularly encouraged. Please feel free to put forward proposals that you think will get the message across, in whatever form.

At the end of the conference we will be exploring ways in which we can develop the discussions and dialogues in new and sustainable inclusive interdisciplinary directions, including research, workshops, publications, public interest days, associations, developing courses etc which will help us make sense of the topics discussed during the meeting. There is an intention, subject to the discussions which emerge during the course of the meeting, to form a selective innovative interdisciplinary publication to engender further research and collaboration.

300 word proposals, presentations, abstracts and other forms of contribution and participation should be submitted by Friday 10th January 2020. Other forms of participation should be discussed in advance with the Organising Chairs.

All submissions will be at least double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Team, The Development Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.

You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Friday 24th January 2020.

If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by Friday 1st May 2020.

Abstracts and proposals may be in Word, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in the programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) type of proposal e.g. paper presentation, workshop, panel, film, performance, etc, f) body of proposal, g) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: Political Evils Submission

Where To Send

Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chair and the Project Administrator:

Natalia Kaloh Vidnatalia@progressiveconnexions.net
Len Capuli (Project Administrator): bratislavaevils@progressiveconnexions.net

Details and Information

 

Registration Fees

The cost for attending the conference is £295/€335. This includes:

~ conference registration fee
~ book of Abstracts
~ a discounted rate for any of the outputs emerging from the event
~ Friday coffee/tea on arrival
~ Friday morning coffee and biscuits
~ Friday lunch
~ Friday afternoon tea and biscuits
~ Friday evening wine and drinks reception
~ drinks in the conference room
~ Saturday morning coffee and biscuits
~ Saturday lunch
~ Saturday afternoon tea and biscuits
~ drinks in the conference room

Calendar of time-lines and deadlines

Friday 10th January 2020
Abstract/Presentation submission

Friday 24th January 2020
Acceptance/Rejection notification

Friday 14th February 2020
Booking Form Submissions

by Friday 28th February 2020
Circulation of Draft Programme
Invoices issued

Friday 27th March 2020
Final date for payment

Friday 17th April 2020
Circulation of Revised Programme
Full draft of presentation to be submitted

Friday 12th June 2020
Final programme to printing

The conference is being held at the 4* Falkensteiner Hotel, Bratislava, Slovakia

 

Pilárikova 7372/5,
811 03 Bratislava, Slovakia

Tel: (+421) 2/592 361 00

We have reserved rooms for delegates at the conference hotel on favourable terms and conditions. On having a proposal accepted for presentation at the conference, and on the completion and submission of a booking form, a special booking form will be sent to you along with instructions on how to use it in order to access these terms.

 

Single Room - Single Occupancy €99 per night including breakfast and all taxes
Double Room - Double/Twin Person Occupancy €129 per night including breakfast and all taxes

Details will be sent to delegates on how to access these rates once receipt of the booking form has been confirmed.
Accommodation bookings are made directly with the hotel, not Progressive Connexions. All payments for accommodation are made directly to the hotel as well. A credit card will be required on booking.
You are free to find alternative accommodation. We are offering these arrangements as a convenience to folks who would like to be at the conference venue.

The conferences, meetings and events we organise are not single ‘one-off’ events. They are part of a continual stream of conversations, activities and projects which grow and evolve in different directions. At the conclusion of every meeting, the question needs to be considered: What happens next? After all, there is little personal, educational or professional benefit in gathering people together from around the world and sharing all sorts of fascinating conversations if nothing further is going to happen as a result!

The possible ranges of ‘outputs’ which can productively flow from our meetings is a dynamic response to the dialogues, issues and engagements that take place during the events themselves. And as our meetings are attended by folks who come from different backgrounds, contexts, professions and vocations, what people would like to see developed as a result of our time spent together will always be potentially diverse, fluid and appropriate to what took place.

One range of possible outputs involves publication as a way of continuing the work of a project. Where publishing is a possibility, it is directly referenced in the Call for Papers, Presentations and Participation. Other possible outputs may include, but are not limited to:
~ social media platforms such as Facebook pages and groups, blogs, wikis, Twitter, as vehicles for continuing dialogues, disseminating knowledge and information and bringing new people into the work of the project
~ reviews; reports; policy statements; position papers/statements; declarations of principles
~ proposals for meetings, workshops, courses, schools
~ collaboration gateways, platforms and media
~ personal and professional development opportunities: faculty development; mentoring programmes; cultural cruises; consultancies; summer schools; personal enrichment programmes

The range of outputs is dependent on how little or how much you would like to become involved. Don’t let the end of the meeting signal the end of your involvement with the project. Please get involved, bounce ideas around, think out loud – we’d love to hear about what you’d like to do and are always happy to talk about what is possible.

Payment Process
Participants must complete the online booking form by Friday 14th February 2020 at the latest.
After the deadline has expired, an invoice will be drawn up and sent to you; the invoice will contain all the necessary information for you to pay by bank transfer, cheque, Paypal or credit card.
The invoice must be settled by Friday 27th March 2020.

It is the responsibility of delegates to ensure that payment is made by this date. Failure to receive payment will result in your booking being cancelled.

Payment Methods
There are a number of ways payment can be made.

Cheque
Payment can be made by cheque, in GBP (£ sterling) only and must be drawn against a bank with headquarters in the United Kingdom. Cheques should be made payable to ‘Progressive Connexions’ and sent, with a copy of the booking form, to:

Dr Rob Fisher
Progressive Connexions
Priory House
149b Wroslyn Road
Freeland
Oxfordshire. OX29 8HR
United Kingdom

We regret we cannot and will not accept cheques made payable in currencies other than GBP Sterling.

Bank Transfer Payment may be made using bank transfer. There will be an option to pay in either GBP (£ Sterling) or Euro (€). Full details to enable a bank transfer are made available on your conference invoice. If paying by this method, you must agree to pay all charges at the sending and receiving banks.

By Invoice
You may request that an invoice be sent to you which you may forward to your institution. It is your responsibility to ensure that the invoice is paid before the payment deadline.

Online
Your invoice will include a link to pay through a secure and encrypted online payment system. Please click the link to use this method.

Credit Card
Payment may also be made using credit card. We cannot accept American Express or Discovery as a form of payment.

Paypal
Payment may also be made using Paypal. If paying by this method please send us the email account connected with your Paypal account and we will forward you a request for payment.

IMPORTANT
We strongly recommend that all delegates take out some form of travel or other insurance in relation to any and all travel arrangements or accommodation booked in regard to the conferenceThis should include cancellation insurance in the event of unforeseen or unexpected circumstances.

All fees are payable in advance. No delegate will be permitted entry to the conference if an invoice is still unpaid.

What’s so Special?

A fresh, friendly, dynamic format – at Progressive Connexions we are dedicated to breaking away from the stuffy, old-fashion conference formats, where endless presentations are read aloud off PowerPoints. We work to bring you an interactive format, where exchange of experience and information is alternated with captivating workshops, engaging debates and round tables, time set aside for getting to know each other and for discussing common future projects and initiatives, all in a warm, relaxed, egalitarian atmosphere.

 

A chance to network with international professionals – the beauty of our interdisciplinary events is that they bring together professionals from all over the world and from various fields of activity, all joined together by a shared passion. Not only will the exchange of experience, knowledge and stories be extremely valuable in itself, but we seek to create lasting, ever-growing communities around our projects, which will become a valuable resource for those belonging to them.

 

A chance to be part of constructing change – There is only one thing we love as much as promoting knowledge: promoting real, lasting social change by encouraging our participants to take collective action, under whichever form is most suited to their needs and expertise (policy proposals, measuring instruments, research projects, educational materials, etc.) We will support all such actions in the aftermath of the event as well, providing a platform for further discussions, advice from the experts on our Project Advisory Team and various other tools and intellectual resources, as needed.

 

An opportunity to discuss things that matter to you – Our events are not only about discussing how things work in the respective field, but also about how people work in that field – what are the struggles, problems and solutions professionals have found in their line of work, what are the areas where better communication among specialists is needed and how the interdisciplinary approach can help bridge those gaps and help provide answers to questions from specific areas of activity.

 

An unforgettable experience – When participating in a Progressive Connexions event, there is a good chance you will make some long-time friends. Our group sizes are intimate, our venues are comfortable and relaxing and our event locations are suited to the history and culture of the event.

Ethos

Progressive Connexions believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract or proposal for presentation.

 

Please note: Progressive Connexions is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence, nor can we offer discounts off published rates and fees.

Progressive Connexions is a not-for-profit network inspiring inclusive interdisciplinary research, publishing and collaboration

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