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On freedom *

A discussion between Svetlana Boym and Boris Groys

Boym and Groys discuss philosophical concepts on freedom to assess how the term is used in its various dimensions – on the state level, in people’s private lives and relating to economic aspects.
Is there such a thing as societal freedom where the state governs and rules most aspects of people’s lives? Are humans, as Sartre proclaimed “doomed to be free”? Does freedom entail an escape from the economic determinism that rules Western civilisations or is it economic activity that sets us free in the first place? Svetlana Boym and Boris Groys discuss.

Media Policy in Slovenia in the 1990s

Regulation, privatization, concentration and commercialization of the media

During the 1990s the Slovene media were significantly affected by political changes. The events that most influenced the media world of the nineties were the introduction of the new media law (arguments and discussions about the media law in Slovenia have again become topical ten years later), the privatization of the media, liberalization of the print media market and superficial regulation of the broadcasting market, media monopolization and commercialization. These events are the subject of the analysis in this essay.

An invisible wall

The hidden factor of Belarusian reality

Contrary to other former socialist Central and Eastern European countries, Belarus has hardly undergone any cultural and economic changes and remains cut off from the international arena. At the core of this problem, argues Nelly Bekus-Goncharova, is the Belarusian media landscape which proves incapable of creating an integrated informational space. State media and independent mass media remain locked in self-absorbed and separate discourses, neither of which provide a projection of what is really happening in Belarus. Can this deadlock be overcome?

Krysztof Pomian examines European attitudes towards Poland and Poland’s attitudes towards the European Union. He uncovers startling similarities in the rhetoric used by the European Left and the Polish Right in their arguments against the enlargement.

A round-table discussion which debates the interplay between media, government and civil society. How big is the media’s influence on the perception of politics and politicians? Does Slovakia possess a functioning civil society that keeps the balance of power in check? And finally, what are the lessons to be learned from other post-communist countries?

Poland as the sick man of Europe?

Jedwabne, "post-memory" and historians

Joanna Tokarska-Bakir investigates the defence mechanisms triggered by the European past: on the one hand the Holocaust guilt-complex and on the other the language historians use to talk about it.

Media reports on the Balkan wars brought for the first time news of widespread rape-practices to the public’s attention. By disentangling the heady mix of nationalism, chauvinism, ethnicity and gender construction, Vesna Kesic asks however, how far we really have advanced in our attitudes towards rape and institutionalised violence against women.

A Growing Gap

Thoughts on the current transatlantic relations

The conflict between Europe and America is a reality. At this point it consists mostly of differences of opinion, but the continents are drifting apart, and a larger break is not unthinkable any more. Impressions of travel and time travel by Michael Freund.

The rise of the NGOs in recent years has raised various new problems, most pressingly that of the “democratisation paradox”: Whilst the NGOs ultimate aim is to promote democratic structures in respective countries, their own structures remain relatively unaccountable and undemocratic. Other questions concern the sharing of power between NGOs and democratically elected chambers and the influence NGOs are able to exert over them. Claus Leggewie looks at the complex mechanisms involved and proposes ways out of the legitimation crisis.

The participation of the author in a symposium on literature and the media, organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (Polish equivalent of the Cervantes Institute) has inspired this contribution to the eternal debate about criticism. In it, Mihály Dés reexamines the role of the critic and of literary criticism, a role, he argues, that remains as important as ever.

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