DEBATTE Conference: ‘Crisis and Resistance in Central and Eastern Europe’ 22-23 November 2014, Warsaw, Poland

by Iulius-Cezar Macarie

Since the collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) twenty-five years ago, Europe has seen periods of social unrest and economic crisis coupled with revolts against austerity plans.  Social resistance has been growing across the CEE against the neo-liberal economic model with its disastrous effects on the national economies of the new member states, and its negative impact on the people living, working and travelling within the idealised ‘borderless space of Europe’ in search for a better life.

With the 2004 expansion of the European Union into CEE and the drafting of a European constitution, Western Europe (the old fifteen members of the EU) extended its common market to the Eastern borders of ‘Europe proper’[1]. Ten years on, fortress Europe has seen two waves of new member states joining the EU club and its geographical borders extending to the Baltic Sea in the North, and to the Black Sea to the South East, encircling the shaded area of the ex-Yugoslav space, with the recent exception of Croatia.

In 2015, the EU may see one new member state (Serbia) coming in and one old member state (the United Kingdom) going out. Who knows who is going to be included or excluded (or allowed to opt-out) and on what grounds? And how strongly will Mr Cameron’s proposed reforms to the Freedom of Movement Treaty resonate with EU politicians, challenging one of the core fundamental freedoms of EU citizens – travelling and working freely in Europe? With Europe approaching such uncertainties, it becomes all the more urgent to ask what we are heading for, how far can Europe go the way it has been in the last twenty-five years, and what alternatives are there.

In a time when Europe is approaching a new, enlarged but uncertain destiny, Debatte: Journal of Contemporary and Central –Eastern Europe, holds an international conference bringing together academics, politicians, activists to present alternatives and debate on the topic of Crisis and Resistance in Central Europe. Here is the programme of the conference, which includes over 70 papers on a range of urgent issues that have marked the last twenty five years spent under the transition and experiments made in the post-socialist space in a context of neo-liberal capitalist expansion and the accumulation of capital at the expense of people’s civil rights and social power.

[1] Ginette Verstraete, Tracking Europe: Mobility, Diaspora, and the Politics of Location  (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010), p. 19.

Iulius-Cezar Macarie is the 2013 INTEGRIM Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher cohort, affiliated with the Centre for Policy Studies, and a PhD Candidate at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, CEU. Macarie co-directed with Tim Marrinan the Invisible Lives of Romanian Night Workers in London (Production: UK, June 2013). Invisible Lives is now available to watch online.

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