Europe ’89: The promise recalled. 30th European Meeting of Cultural Journals

The 30th European Meeting of Cultural Journals took place in Berlin, Germany from 1 to 3 November 2019. The meeting was organized by Eurozine, together with Berlin-based Eurozine partner journals Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik and Osteuropa, in cooperation with Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung and co-funded by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. The conference brought together representatives of Eurozine’s partner journals and associates, journalists, researchers and other culture and media professionals. Parts of the conference programme were open to the public.

Europe ’89: The promise recalled

Thirty years ago the wave of peaceful revolutions swept across central eastern Europe. Country by country, and with breath-taking speed, four decades of Soviet rule came to an end. For all their diversity, the revolutionary movements were united in a belief in Europe – defined not only as an end to the division of the continent, but also as a return to the path of democracy and self-determination.

This year’s European Meeting of Cultural Journals recalls the ideas expressed in 1989 and retraces the development of Europe since. In turbulent times, scholars, writers and activists will reflect on the successes, but also the failures of the last three decades: for the first time ever, a member state is exiting the Union; new boundaries are being drawn within the EU and lines of conflict are becoming ever more entrenched; social-economic inequalities are growing; national identity and sovereignty are pitted against institutions and individuals advocating for a liberal and more social European Union; and across the continent, populist rightwing movements and parties increasingly set the tone. They deliberately encourage distrust in the political system, its representatives and the media – and have trained their sights on parliamentary democracy itself.

All the more important for us to maintain and strengthen transnational discourse within the European public spheres. Together with its partners, this year’s European Meeting of Cultural Journals will seek to form an alliance of learning and action for Europe, 30 years after ’89. And where better to do so than in Berlin, a city whose identity is uniquely bound up with the history of division and reunification?

Part 1: The Promise

The Saturday programme started at 10 AM, opened by Karl Schlögel’s lecture on ‘The successes and failures of 1989’.

Mr Schlögel followed up this talk with an inter-generational discussion with Karolina Wigura, on the significance of ’89/’91 for our understanding of contemporary politics and society in Europe.

Part 2: Reality check

In the afternoon, Ferenc Laczó and Luka Lisjak Gabrijelcic presented the upcoming anthology developed from the Eurozine focal point The legacy of division which they have curated.

Susan Neiman, Gary Younge and Jan Plamper discussed ‘Belonging in Europe’ – the nation state, with regards to sovereignty and solidarity.

Philipp Ther looked at the transformation of European economies after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and in light of the 2008 economic crisis.

Part 3: Recall

At the moment, Claus Leggewie discusses the future of protest movements with today’s leading activists: Helena Marschall (Fridays For Future, Germany), Radu Vancu, (‘We See You’ Movement, Romania) and Dóra Papp (civic campaigner, Hungary).

A Political matinee

In a Sunday morning discussion, Ivan Krastev and Holly Case looked at how the image of 1989 has transformed in contemporary politics.

The 30th European Meeting of Cultural Journals took place in Berlin, Germany from 1 to 3 November 2019. The meeting was organized by Eurozine, together with Berlin-based Eurozine partner journals Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik and Osteuropa, in cooperation with Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung and co-funded by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

The conference brought together representatives of Eurozine’s partner journals and associates, journalists, researchers and other culture and media professionals. Parts of the conference programme were open to the public and streamed live in Eurozine.

Programme

Download the full conference programme (PDF)

Focal point

The legacy of division: East and West after 1989
When the Cold War came to a sudden end thirty years ago, the two halves of Europe declared in unison their intention to overcome the legacy of the division. Today, the hopes and ambitions of those heady days can be viewed as unrealistic at best. But is talk of a new East–West divide justified? A new Eurozine focal point asks what happened to ’89 in the intervening years. Read more here.

Organizers

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Discussion