Legal Frames of Memory. Transitional Justice in Central and Eastern Europe
International Conference, Warsaw, 27-29 November 2013
With the fall of communism and the emergence of a new social order came a need to re-determine fundamental societal values. Historical narratives promoted by the failed communist systems lost their validity, opening the past as a subject of intense and heated debate. Concepts of legal and moral responsibility became crucial to the process of negotiating new visions of the past. Law was not only used to build collective awareness, but also became a zone of contention for the interests and opinions of individuals, groups, and institutions of an emerging civil society.
The process of negotiating and administering justice was two-sided. On one hand, it included instruments of retributive justice, aiming to punish and exclude from public life those functionaries of the past regime who had violated human rights. On the other hand, its aim was to compensate the victims of human rights violations for their losses using restorative judicial instruments. During this process there developed a new system of values for societies undergoing democratization. The historical roles of victims and perpetrators were defined and as a result, a new narrative framework for debates on the past was established.
We aim to compare the experiences of countries of Central and Eastern Europe and to discuss extensively the role of law and justice in memory processes. Since these issues have so far mainly drawn the attention of political scientists, lawyers, and economists, they have been discussed using specialist and technical discourses. Thus the symbolic dimension of the settlement processes has largely been neglected. When the issues were discussed in the context of remembrance, it was often from the perspective of state sponsored historical politics, having a pejorative connotation. Our conference aims to examine transitional justice as an area not only of state activity but also that of various social groups. We seek to examine the processes of negotiating and administering justice as an area where the social memory of the communist period was shaped, both at a system level and at the level of grassroots social movements.
In this context, the conference is planned to examine the relationship between law and memory. We will be interested in law as a framework of social memory from the perspective of legitimizing certain norms, values, and visions of the past, and also toward developing a framework of grassroots social activity wherein individuals and groups promote certain interests and historical narratives. We will moreover cover the way legal discourse merges with other aspects of social life, including the concepts of justice defined in the works of historians, media, and cultural texts.
The subjects of the conference include, but are not limited to:
- retributive justice, i.e., trials, decommunization and vetting;
- restorative justice, i.e., rehabilitation of political prisoners, restitution of nationalized property, compensation;
- institutes of national remembrance and the issue of access to the files of the communist security apparatus;
- representations of concepts of justice in historical work, media, or cultural texts.
We invite speakers from various disciplines of humanities and social sciences, including sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers of law, who study the issues of justice and settlement processes in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe or in a global comparative perspective. We prefer original research papers with sound theoretical and empirical underpinning.
Languages of the conference: English, Polish (with simultaneous translation)
Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short biographical statement by 30 June 2013. Abstracts will be selected by the academic committee. We will notify you of acceptance of your proposals by 30 July 2013. You will be asked to submit your final conference paper by 1 November, so we may have it translated (if necessary) and distributed to chairs and commentators.
Participation in the conference is free of charge. A limited number of travel refunds for younger scholars and doctoral students will be available.
We plan publication of selected papers in a peer-reviewed journal or in a volume by an international publisher.
Please send your abstract and all inquiries to: email@example.com
Convenors: Prof. Jiři Přibáň (Cardiff University), Dr. Małgorzata Pakier (Warsaw University of Social Science and Humanities), Dr. Stanisław Tyszka (University ofWarsaw).
Advisory Board: Prof. Adam Czarnota (Onati International Institute for the Sociology of Law), Marián Gula (Nation’s Memory Institute UPN), Prof. Andrzej Kojder (Warsaw University), Prof. Jerzy Kwaśniewski (Warsaw University), Prof. Jeffrey Olick (University of Virginia), Prof. Andrzej Paczkowski (Collegium Civitas), Prof. István Rév (Central European University and Open Society Archives), Prof. Jan Rydel (European Network of Remembrance and Solidarity), Prof. Dariusz Stola (Collegium Civitas and PolishAcademy of Sciences), Dr. Oldřich Tůma (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic), Dr. Joanna Wawrzyniak (Warsaw University and Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies).
Organizers: European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (Warsaw); Collegium Civitas (Warsaw); Institute of Social Prevention and Resocialization, Warsaw University; Institute of Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (USD); Nation’s Memory Institute (UPN, Slovakia); Open Society Archives (Hungary).