5th International Summer School "Societies in Transition - The Balkans and the Caucasus between Conflict and Reconciliation", September 27th - October 4th, 2015
From September 27th to October 4th 2015, the International Summer School (ISS) organized by the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies (JCRS) at Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena (Prof. Martin Leiner), the Chair of International Relations at the Institute of Political Science (Raphael Biermann), the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) at Johns Hopkins University (Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman), and the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University (Dr. Karina Korostelina) gave 15 participants (academics as well as practitioners from the grass-roots level working on conflict resolution and reconciliation studies on the areas in our focus) a platform to present their own research and to work together.
The ISS dealt with conflicts and reconciliation in the geographical region of the Balkan and Caucasus Region from an interdisciplinary perspective. The central question was the possibility of reconciliation processes for and in transitional societies that had recently experienced collapse or any destruction of the internal communication. Similarities as well as significant differences between the two mentioned regions received attention. The International Summer School combined different discussion forms like keynote lectures from theologians, historians, political scientists and sociologists, participants' presentations of ongoing PhD research projects, and also two workshops to deepen some of the topics of reconciliation. The Key lectures, held by well-known experts on Peace, Conflict Resolution, and Reconciliation Studies, addressed the regions of Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Serbia (South East Europe); Nagorno-Karabakh; Russia/Chechnya; Georgia/South Ossetia, and Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey (Caucasus/Middle East). They referred to both the relevant past and the possibilities for a peaceful future in post-socialist Europe.
The aspect of the MARTIN LEINER'S lecture presented an overview over the JCRS ́s sphere of activities, commitments and visions for the future within the center ́s "Hölderlin Perspectove". MARIA PALME had a look on the need for reconciliation according to the GDR-past using the example of the federal state of Thuringia. LILY GARDNER FELDMAN gave as a profound analysis of motivations, mechanisms and measurements in the promotion of a path from conflict to reconciliation in the EU, Germany and the Balkans. CHRISTO THESNAAR shed light on the concept of "frozen conflict" as an unstable and insecure situation and critically discussed reconciliation efforts and balances in South Africa referring to the present status as a state in limbo. PHILIPP TOLLIDAY integrated in his key-note speech "Reconciliation: A Negotiation Between Anamnesis and Amnesia" a profound definition of reconciliation into the wider question of the "right remembrance". KARINA V. KOROSTELINA underlined the importance of a critical reflection of one ́s own past for intra-and intercommunal rapprochement citing important challenges. KORNELY KAKACHIA illuminated the concept of borders and borderlands as a dense area and applied his concept to the case in Caucasus region on the basis of a comparative analysis. PAATA ZAKARESHVILI focused on the security needs of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and underlined Georgia ́s aims and opportunities in strengthening cooperation in the region as a balancing force by enhancing its multilateral ties, mediating in the various conflicts, while also underpinning Georgia ́s efforts to normalize its relations with Russia. RAFAEL BIERMANN critically assessed reconciliation efforts in the Balkan region today while attributing failures and interethnic tensions to a majority ́s attitude of exclusive thinking along ethnic lines.
The workshops provided ample opportunities for in-depth debate among the participants:
1. "Dealing with the Past: Is Remembrance, Trauma and Memory an Obstacle or Catalyst for Reconciliation?" (Thesnaar)
2. "Feeling Foreign in a Familiar Land" (Tolliday)
The Summer School also included a field trip to the Weimar Concentration Camp Buchenwald and a two-day trip to Berlin on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of German reunification on October 3, 1990. With these field trips the ISS wanted to contextualize questions of conflict and reconciliation in relation to Germany's memory policies reflecting its efforts of dealing critically with its own authoritarian past.
We are grateful for the financial support of by the Thuringian Ministry for Education and Culture and the Ernst-Abbe-Foundation.