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Conference • 1968 in Poland and Czechoslovakia in Comparison

August 31, 2018 - September 2, 2018

The year 1968 was a momentous one in many spots on the globe, perhaps no more so than in Poland and Czechoslovakia. With a few exceptions, however, 1968 and its aftermath in these two countries largely have been studied in isolation from each other. This conference seeks to compare each “1968” while exploring transnational linkages that connected events, people, cultural expressions, and processes in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and beyond. Our goal is to bring together leading historians in either or both regions in order to suggest new perspectives on a number of themes, including but not limited to Jewish history, the history of emigration, and the intertwining of performance, the arts, and politics.

The conference will feature public conversations with Communist-era dissident and Polish intellectual Adam Michnik and celebrated scholar of Jewish life in Communist Czechoslovakia and 1968 émigré Alena Heitlinger. The first day will include a screening of “Dworzec Gdański”, named after the train station from which many Polish Jews departed the country amidst the anti-Semitic campaigns of 1968. The conference will conclude with a special cabaret performance about family relations, memory, and 1968 entitled “Rendezvous in Bratislava.”

All events associated with the conference are free and open to the public.

Friday, August 31
University Room, Institute for the Arts and Humanities (map)

2:00-3:30 PM
The Legacies of 1968 in Central Europe in Comparison
Roundtable discussion with James Krapfl (McGill University), Joanna Nalewajko-Kulikov (Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History), and Kieran Williams (Drake University)
Moderator: Karen Auerbach (UNC-Chapel Hill)

4:00-5:00 PM
Film showing and discussion: “Dworzec Gdański” (trailer)
Introduced by Joanna Niżyńska

5:30-7:00 PM
A conversation with Adam Michnik (Editor in Chief, Gazeta Wyborcza), interviewed by Dariusz Stola (Director, POLIN: Museum of the History of Polish Jews)
Saturday, September 1
University Room, Institute for the Arts and Humanities (map)

9:30-11:00 AM
1968 and Jewish History in Comparison
Karen Auerbach (UNC-Chapel Hill), “Following the Generation of 1968: Joanna Wiszniewicz’s ‘Life Cut in Two’”
Kateřina Čapková (Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Republic), “Antisemitism, Israel, and the Communist Reform Movements in Poland and Czechoslovakia”
Jacob Labendz (Youngstown State University), “A Czech-Jewish Face: Embracing and Fearing Complex Identities (and Loyalties) around 1968”
Comment: Dariusz Stola (Director, POLIN: Museum of the History of Polish Jews)

11:15 AM -12:15 PM
A conversation with Alena Heitlinger (Trent University), interviewed by Rebekah Klein-Pejšová (Purdue University)

1:30-2:45 PM
Anti-Semitism, Memory, and Politics
Ilana McQuinn (University of Chicago), “How Poland’s Anti-Zionist Campaign Drove Intellectual Politics during the Prague Spring”
Cynthia Paces (The College of New Jersey), “Art of Atonement: The Prague Spring, West Germany, and Lidice”
Comment: Chad Bryant (UNC-Chapel Hill)

3:00-4:15 PM
The Arts of and from 1968
Kyrill Kunakhovich (University of Virginia), “Polish Culture After March: Art, Politics, and the Crisis of State Socialism”
Lisa Jakelski (Eastman School of Music), “Negotiating 1968 at the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music”
Comment: Andrea Bohlman (UNC-Chapel Hill)

8:00-10:00 PM
Performance of “Rendezvous in Bratislava” (trailer) Person Recital Hall (map)
This event is free; no reservation or ticket required.

Funding for the conference has been generously provided by the Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies; the International Visegrad Fund; the Center for European Studies; the College of Arts and Sciences; the Institute for the Arts and Humanities; the History Department; the Music Department; the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies; UNC Global; the Curriculum in Global Studies; and the Duke Center for Jewish Studies.


August 31, 2018
September 2, 2018
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