2009 — Winter / Features

From Totalitarianism to Democracy: A Twisted and Unfinished Road

FromTotalitarianismThe McGill University campus in Montreal, Canada was the setting of a recent international conference organized by the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in Canada on the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism in Europe.From Totalitarianism to Democracy: Twisted and Unfinished Road took place on October 21-22, 2009 and featured seventeen speakers from Canada, the United States, Poland, Germany and Australia.

Conducted in French and English, the conference featured topics as diverse as national minorities, economic and monetary integration, cinema and social change and gender roles, all in post-communist context.

While some speakers re-examined events prior to 1989, such as Professor Karol Modzelewski of the University of Warsaw in his talk entitled Poland between Martial Law and the Collapse of Communism, most focused on how the events of 1989 have influenced not only the course of world affairs over the past twenty years but how they continue to have an impact on the world today and beyond today.

As argued by Professors Peter G. Brown and Lorenz Lüthi of McGill University in their joint presentation, 1989 was a key year for far more than one generation of Europeans. Besides having obvious impact on the lives of those previously closed off behind the Iron Curtain as well as deep repercussions on Soviet and Russian-American relations, 1989 changed global thinking about ideologies and their triumphs and failures. What impact did the events that started in Poland in 1989 have on the fall of apartheid in South Africa? Did Marxism really fail? In the wake of the current global financial crisis might capitalism be next? From Totalitarianism to Democracy provided lots of food for thought.

Conference proceedings will be published in English and French jointly by the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in Canada and by the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences in Krakow, Poland.

For a multi-media look at events of 1989 across Central and Eastern Europe, have a look at http://www.year1989.pl, a portal prepared by Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance.



Poster by Alfred Hałasa, used with permission of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in Canada

Kinia Adamczyk
Kinia Adamczyk is a full-time Canadian and part-time Pole. Or maybe it's the other way around. When she's not pondering about hyphenated identities, Kinia makes a living muckraking at an investigative TV show in Montreal, writing, traveling and creating all sorts of fun things, including cool recipes and online magazines – she was a co-founder of cosmopolitanreview.com in 2008, while doing her Master's in European studies in Warsaw at the College of Europe. She finished her undergrad in journalism and communication studies at Concordia University in Montreal, with a year spent in Denmark and the Netherlands.
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