This year's edition of the Eastern European Day in Fribourg was for the first time based on a new formula: it separated the cultural event from a strictly scientific conference. For the cultural and public event (18 November 2010), the world famous Albanian writer Ismael Kadare was invited to give a presentation on the relation between art and power in a totalitarian regime. The presentation will be followed by a discussion and a public reception.
The scientific part (19 November 2010) was based on a closed conference focussing on the topic of informal power and practices in Eastern Europe. The conference aimed at outlining a bigger conference on the topic with cross-country comparisons. Informality is a well-known phenomenon but it is rather at the periphery of academic writing. Since informality is part of the distinction formality – informality, an important question deals with the right balance between formality and informality. Informality is obviously unavoidable in our everyday practices and rituals. Is it also in politics? This is also a question of what kind of informal behaviour is being accepted in a given political culture with all its formal and informal rules. The more one moves South or East, the more informal structures gain importance. The same can be said about a related notion: trust. In many cultures personal networks of trust are more important than the institutionalised ones. It may be that informal structures are survival strategies in many countries, but looking at them from the perspective of democracy and rule of law one could also see that in many fields, particularly those involving public power, informality is just a power keeping device. The negative and the positive side of informality go hand in hand and do overlap very often. In the worst case informal power networks may undermine the whole institutional arrangement on which State and politics is based, as it is the case in Russia. If modernity implies that we are governed by codes, impersonality, then informality has the meaning that we are governed by personalised networks. The question is again how to decide about getting the right balance between both. In a corrupt society with a failed state this may never be the case. In that sense the conference was addressing functions and forms of informality generally, and in Eastern Europe particularly, in the fields of politics, economy and society. The conference was based on an interdisciplinary perspective.
What is special about the project?
The objective of the event is to bring together the people, especially researchers, who have a common interest in Eastern Europe. It also aims to gather specialists in specific topics and to create a network for future activities aiming at increasing the knowledge on Eastern European societies through publications, workshops, conferences etc.
The public event on 18 November was a great success. The presence of Ismail Kadare enabled us to gather more than 200 people. Ismael Kadare delivered an inspiring speech on the role of literature in the fight against totalitarism. The scientific conference on 19 November gathered 15 researchers who made presentations on the topic of informal power and practices in their countries of interest (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Kosovo, Albania; Czech Republic, etc.) and from their own perspective (political science; sociology; anthropology; economics). This thoughtful exploratory conference will lead to a scientific publication in 2012.
none so far
«Le racisme est toujours à l’œuvre», Journal La Liberté, 11.12.2010;
«L’Albanie aux portes de l’Europe», Interview avec Ismail Kadaré, RSR, 5.12.2010, http://www.rsr.ch/
Persons involved in the project
Prof. Dr. Nicolas Hayoz, Projektleiter, nicolas.
Denis Dafflon, Projektkoordintor, Universität Freiburg, Pérolles II, Boulevard de Pérolles 90, 1700 Fribourg (Schweiz), denis.
, Tel. + 41 (0)26 300 79 82 dafflon@unifr. ch
Jan Kreuels, University of Friburg, Pérolles II, Boulevard de Pérolles 90, 1700 Fribourg (Switzerland), jan.
Last update to this project presentation 17.10.2018