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Livestream: The Ukraine Thinking Together Conference

An international group of intellectuals meet in Kiev to discuss Ukraine's past, present and future


Ukraine Thinking Together, May 15 to May 19, Kiev, Ukraine

This year Ukraine has seen protests, revolution, and a counter-revolution from abroad. An international group of intellectuals are gathering in Kiev to demonstrate solidarity, meet their Ukrainian counterparts, and carry out a broad public discussion about the meaning of Ukrainian pluralism for the future of Europe, Russia, and the world.

The Maidan and reactions to it, in Ukraine and abroad, raise classical and contemporary questions of politics and ethics.

  • How can human rights be grounded and how are we motivated by the idea of human rights?
  • How and when does language provide access to the universal, and how and when does it define political difference?
  • Are some experiences so intense that they alter the character of intellectual exchange as such?
  • How is decency in politics possible amidst international anarchy, domestic corruption, and the general fallibility of individuals?
  • Does revolution renew Europe and revive political thought or can revolution, like everything else, be consumed by the clichés and abstractions of globalization?
  • What does the revival of geopolitics mean for the world order?
  • Is the Maidan an eruption of youth or an expression of history?
  • Does its memory bring Ukrainians closer to European preoccupations, or introduce constellations that confound myths?

These will be the subjects of our seven panels, in all of which international and local intellectuals will meet. The discussions will take place in Ukrainian, Russian, German, French, and English, and in all panels at least one person, including those traveling from the west, will be speaking a language that is not his or her own mother tongue. In this way we hope to express our respect for language as such, and to demonstrate, in a small way, solidarity to Ukrainians and others who speak multiple languages. In expressing ourselves in other languages we also stress that the universal themes require a special sort of work from all of us, a labor that we hope will be rewarded by understanding and friendship.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, May 15

  • 5:00pm: Public Lecture by Timothy Snyder, Not Even Past: Ukrainian Histories, Russian Politics, European Futures

Friday, May 16

  • 12:00pm: Press conference Timothy Snyder, Leon Wieseltier, international guests
  • 2:00pm: Briefing by religious leaders
  • 3:15pm: Briefing by Jewish community activists Chair: Leon Wieseltier
  • 4:30: Briefing by Ukrainian journalists Roger Cohen, Chair, Serhii Leshchenko, Mustafa Nayem, Serhii Rachmanin, Evhen Zakharov.
  • 5:45: Public Lecture by Bernard-Henri Lévy La résistible ascension d'Arturo

Saturday, May 17

  • 9:00am: Opening remarks by Leon Wieseltier and Timothy Snyder
  • 9:30am: Panel: Do rights make us human? Language: Russian, with simultaneous interpretation into English. Participants: Ivan Krastev, chair, Viktor Erofeyev, Sergei Lukashevsky, Myroslav Marynovych, Alexander Podrabinek, Ihor Shchupak, Josef Zissels.
  • 1:30pm: Panel: How did the Maidan change culture? Language: Ukrainian, with simultaneous interpretation into English. Participants: George Grabowicz, brief introduction, Ola Hnatiuk, chair, Vasyl Cherepanyn, Oksana Forostyna, Alexander Roitburd, Konstantin Skorkin, Olena Styazhkina, Serhiy Zhadan.
  • 4:00pm: Panel: When do politicians become pariahs? Language: German, with simultaneous interpretation into Ukrainian and English. Participants: Daniel Markovits, chair, Wolf Biermann, Timothy Garton Ash, Jurko Prochasko, Mykhailo Minakov, Karl Schlögel, Karel Schwarzenberg.
  • 5:30pm: Public lecture by Ivan Krastev, The Global Politics of Protest
  • 7:00pm: Public lecture by Timothy Garton Ash, From Lisbon to Kyiv? Forty Years of Non-Violent European Struggles for Freedom

Sunday, May 18

  • 9:30am: Panel: Does Europe need Ukrainian revolution? Language: French, with simultaneous interpretation into Ukrainian and English. Participants: Konstantin Sigov, chair, Carmen Claudin, Bernard Kouchner, Bernard-Henri Levy, Volodymyr Yermolenko.
  • 11:30am: Public lecture by Slavenka Drakulić: Intellectuals as Bad Guys? The Role of Intellectuals in the Balkan Wars
  • 1:30pm: Panel: Geopolitics after Crimea: Realism, Idealism, Eurasianism. Language: English, with simultaneous interpretation into Ukrainian. Participants: Leon Wieseltier, chair, Paul Berman, Carl Gershman, François Heisbourg, Volodymyr Kulyk, Anron Shekhovtsov, Tatiana Zhurzhenko.
  • 4:00pm: Panel: Has totalitarianism returned to political thought and practice? Language: Polish, with simultaneous interpretation into Ukrainian and English. Participants: Aleksander Smolar, chair, Agnieszka Holland, Adam Michnik, Mykola Riabchuk, Marci Shore, Sławomir Sierakowski, Andrzej Waśkiewicz.
  • 6:30pm: Public lecture by Paul Berman: Alexis de Tocqueville and the Idea of Democracy

Monday, May 19

  • 9:30am: Panel: Can memory save us from history? Can history save us from memory? Language: English, with simultaneous interpretation into Ukrainian. Participants: Timothy Snyder, chair, Slavenka Drakulić, Olga Filippova, Frank Foer, Yaroslav Hrytsak, Nikolay Koposov, Martin Šimečka, Andrey Kurkov.

This gathering was the initiative of Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic and Timothy Snyder of Yale University and was made possible by the willingness of colleagues to heed their call and agree to participate in great haste, and by the creativity and hard work of Tatiana Zhurzhenko and Oksana Forostyna. A number of partner institutions helped transform an idea into an event: the Batory Foundation, the Embassy of Canada, the Embassy of France, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, the Embassy of the United States of America, the European Endowment for Democracy, the Network of European Cultural Journals Eurozine, the Goethe-Institut, the Institut Français d’Ukraine, the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), the International Renaissance Foundation, the Ukrainian cultural journal Krytyka, the National University “Kyiv Mohyla Academy,” the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the National Endowment for Democracy, The New Republic, the Open Ukraine Foundation, the PinchukArtCentre, the Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies “Tkuma,” the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, and the Visual Culture Research Center.