CFP: Post-revolutionary Hopes and Disillusions Interpreting, promoting and disqualifying revolutions (A Global Approach)

International Conference

Date: 6 & 7 December 2019
Venue: Prague
Deadline for the applications : 15 October 2019
Organizers:
CEFRES, Faculty of Arts of Charles University, Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University, Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the ERC Project„Tarica“
In partnership with: French Institute in Prague, Centre of French civilization and francophone studies (CCFEF) of the University of Warsaw, Centre of Polish Civilization of Sorbonne University, Scientific Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Paris, CNRS research unit LADYSS (University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) and Polish Institute in Prague
Language: English

2019 represents an important symbol and a major commemorative moment in Europe. Marking thirty years since the collapse of the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as fifteen years since their European integration, this anniversary gives rise to political, memorial and academic initiatives throughout Europe. In a way, it does undoubtedly crystallize the tensions and controversies surrounding the “1989 event” interpretation, as it renews the assessment of countries transformations in the region since the Velvet Revolution.

The political landscapes of post-communist countries provide contrasting situations. Democracies and the rule of law have emerged everywhere in a context of universalization of political and economic liberalism in Europe. Nevertheless, several societies are experiencing current upheavals, which are often described as illiberal, authoritarian or populist, or even as „conservative revolutions“.

Hence, the scientific production on the concerned societies, based on tried methods of investigation and analysis, invite us to think and rethink the “1989 event”, which remains a major moment in our contemporary history, and the transformations that Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the other European countries and the European Union, have undergone since the collapse of communism.

This thirtieth anniversary is a unique opportunity to think about revolutionary experiences and regime change in various historical contexts. Thereby, this conference aims at offering wider and new academic perspectives on regime transformations and democratic transitions, through a comparative approach. Post-Communist Europe will undoubtedly be one of our focus, as well as the Arab world following the 2011 uprisings or the political transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, this unprecedented proposition is to offer an equal value of those revolutions in our comparative analysis, without any ranking based on success of failure.

The chosen perspective is to question the object “revolution” in terms of contradictory investments that it is the object of a variety of actors. To analyze the multiple interpretations that the revolution raises: promotion, even sublimation; but also disqualification, even outright rejection.

In fact, the expressions of disillusionment that accompany a revolutionary episode is far from rare. If there is a law of revolutions, it may be this one. The narrative of disappointment occurs almost constantly, despite the great diversity of regime change trajectories. It emerges from democratic regressions led by new political actors, from the recycling of the old regime, a counter-revolutionary process, the lack of any major social changes, or merely because the hopes carried by the revolution were not translated into political acts. Yet common in the public space, expressions of disappointment have barely been the object of academic research.

Thus, here are some exciting questions that fully justify a comparative examination:

I-Describing and representing hopes and disappointments

  • Expressions of hopes, expectations, disappointment, disenchantment, disillusion, are multiple: discursive and political, as well as artistic, literary and cinematographic. What forms do they take in the Eastern European, Arab of African context? What are their lexical and moral registers?
  • How is shape disillusion following the so-called “Old regime return”? Are these objective or ideal facts?
  • What is the impact of social inequalities persistence, economic reform lack, fading of sovereignty?
  • Which individuals, professional and social groups are more like to express hopes and disappointment? Are hopes and disappointment expressed individually or collectively?
  • What are the post-revolutionary disappointment temporalities: immediate or differed?
  • Are all kind of disappointments expressed?

II-Understanding and explaining hopes and disappointment

  • It goes without saying that the expression of hope or disappointment is not only a matter of individual and collective psychological mechanisms.
  • What are the mechanisms by which hope and disappointment is built? What are the specific actors, strategies, circumstances into play? What are the particularities of the moral, ethical and political framework from which disenchantment is deployed?
  • As Bronislaw Baczko mentioned, recalling the “emotional climate created by the revolutionary fact, the upsurges of fears and hopes (which) necessarily drive the production of social imaginaries”, to what extent is emotional over-investment part of political effervescence?
  • Is disillusionment only the natural product of prior illusion? Disappointment would then impose itself as a mirror of revolutionary hope, but it is not reduced to it as long as one is not the natural consequence of the other: it is the moment where some create and exploit the disappointment that must be the object of the investigation.
  • What is the materiality of disappointment? How do political, emotional, psychological, social vectors articulate themselves?

III- Uses and Effects of Disappointment

  • What are the social and practical practices of disappointment? Does all or part of society share it? How do some political entrepreneurs exploit it as a strategy?
  • What are the disappointment consequences on scholars and experts’ perception of the post-revolutionary process?

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Thanks to the richness and diversity of these questions, this conference will gather specialists from several disciplines of social sciences and humanities without borders, neither temporal nor spatial. We will still be dedicated to contemporary Central Europe, the Arab world and sub-Saharan Africa. The papers will have to mobilize original sources and be based on a clearly exposed method (literary analysis, oral history, political sociology, social psychology, etc.). PhD students and young researchers are particularly encouraged to propose a paper.

Publication of conference proceedings

The organizers consider a book publication or a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal (editor/target TBC) on the topic of the conference. Applicants are therefore expected to send a comprehensive abstract, and the first draft of their conference paper before the event itself.

Schedule

Deadline for paper proposals (max 500 words) : 15 October 2019

Selection of contributions and feedback from the conference organizers: 30 October 2019

Foreseen submission of final papers for publication: Half 2020

Paper proposals (max 500 words) must be sent to jerome.heurtaux@cefres.cz, by 15 October 2019 at the latest.

This international conference is organized by CEFRES, the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University, the Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the ERC ProjectTarica“.

In collaboration with the French Institute in Prague, the Centre of French civilization and francophone studies (CCFEF) of the University of Warsaw, the Centre of Polish Civilization of Sorbonne University, the Scientific Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Paris, the CNRS research unit LADYSS (University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) and the Polish Institute in Prague.

This conference is the third in the framework of a cycle of three conferences, entitled “1989-2019: Beyond the Anniversary, Questioning 1989”, held consecutively in Paris, Warsaw and Prague, coordinated by Maciej Forycki (Scientific Centre in Paris of the Polish Academy of Science), Jérôme Heurtaux (CEFRES–French Research Centre in Humanities and Social Sciences), Nicolas Maslowski (Centre for French Studies (CCFEF), University of Warsaw) and Paweł Rodak (Centre of Polish civilization, Sorbonne University).

Conferences costs

Due to limited funding, the organizers will be able to support some prospective or underfunded participants. Hence, conference attendees are advised to start exploring financial support from their home institutions or outside sponsors.

Scientific Direction of the Conference

  • Jérôme Heurtaux, Cefres
  • Michal Pullmann, Charles University
  • Miroslav Vanek, Czech Academy of Sciences
  • Elizka Tomalova, Charles University
  • Alia Gana, ERC « Tarica »

International Scientific Committee

  • Catherine Gousseff, CNRS
  • Marie-Elisabeth Ducreux, EHESS
  • Jacques Rupnik, CERI-Sciences Po
  • Georges Mink, CNRS
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