During periods of military conflict civil societies are placed under particular strain. Democratic structures, which operate autonomously to a certain degree, are frequently in danger of instrumentalisation by the state. There is often a propensity at such times towards radicalisation and polarisation, inflamed patriotism and a dichotomising friend or foe mentality, which can endanger democratic gains. However, in such situations the state is also reliant on civic involvement, which can provide social groups and figures with significant latitude; in turn opening up new opportunities.
The GEI is organising an international conference in Kiev in collaboration with the All-Ukrainian Association of Teachers of History and Social Studies ‘Nova Doba’. The conference, which will take place from 7 to 8 December 2018, will address a range of questions related to societal responses to military threats. It is important to explore, for example, how societies change during periods of military threat, how they react to attempts to instrumentalise them and to what extent societies shift their spheres of activity. These considerations will be guided by the question of whether democratic values and structures are necessarily deprioritised in periods of bloody conflict or whether, in fact, the opposite is true and they function expressly as a valuable resource.
The conference will address societies that have been the scene of military conflicts in recent times and where their effects as ‘frozen conflicts’ are still deeply felt throughout society. There will be a regional focus on Ukraine and members of the Eastern partnership (Georgia, Armenia and Transnistria) but other historical conflicts will also be addressed for comparison.
The conference will predominantly address how state and society work cooperatively and antagonistically in the area of school education. A central litmus test, which we deem revealing for an investigation of continuity and change, is an assessment of social studies and history books, although teaching practice and teachers’ experiences are also highly relevant.
Textbook researchers, historians, political scientists, education practitioners and civic representatives will be brought together by the conference to discuss the construction of identity, pluralism and values orientation. The debates will address the conflict potential inherent in textbooks as well as the role played by discussions and negotiations about textbooks in the search for understanding.
July – December 2018
Federal Foreign Office
All-Ukrainian Association of Teachers of History and Social Studies ‘Nova Doba’
GAHE (Georgian Association of History Educators)
Imagine – Center for Conflict Transformation (Armenia Azerbaijan)
Ion Creanga State University, Moldova