One of our student speakers, Gustel, sent us this report of the London symposium. Gustel is from Sweden, and is spending a year in London studying as part of his degree. Gustel was also one of our student speakers at the London symposium.
The first symposium on “Dissent, Conscience and the Wall? focused on the time before 1989. It started with an introduction by the keynote speaker, Edward Lucas. In his speech he gave the audience an insight into the life behind the Wall, and moved on to some reflections on the time we find ourselves in now in consequence of the events around 1989. Mr. Lucas’ speech was very insightful with personal reflections from the events he experienced himself, and his thoughts on the future of Europe were interesting, for example his claim that “Russia is in a way more capitalist than many of the so-called Western countries,” and how we are experiencing “information warfare.”
The symposium covered a wide variety of subjects relating to 1989, and was arranged in three panels ? one on history, one on philosophy and one on aesthetics and science. Some of the topics covered by young academics were the physicality of the wall, dissident movements and thinkers such as Kolakowski and Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II), secularism in late socialist societies and Romanian philosophical thinking during the period around 1989. I think they all contributed to the wider discussion on the period before the fall of the Wall, and the diversity of subject areas and disciplines generated a good discussion. Some suggestions were made at the end of the symposium to arrange the next meeting in smaller seminars, which may lead to a more detailed understanding of chosen topics, but would likely risk loosing this interdisciplinary discussion where new perspectives one had previously not thought of contribute in a positive way to the papers.