Keynote 1

Don Sparling, Brno Expat Centre and Masaryk University Brno, Czech republic

Friday July 12th | Room Aula | 16:30–18:00

Friends to Enemies – to Friends? Czechs, Germans and Brünn/Brno

For centuries Czech-speakers and German-speakers in the city of Brünn/Brno lived side by side in relative harmony. With changes in the nature of identity and the rise of nationalism in the second half of the nineteenth century, however, emotions began to rise on both sides, and positions to harden. Two parallel words emerged, and the city became increasingly notorious as a flashpoint reflecting Czech-German relations in the Czech lands – and indeed Austria – as a whole. Yet the relative proportions of the two groups meant that neither side could completely dominate the other, and the tensions between them had both destructive and creative aspects. In this situation, many aspects of everyday life took on nationalistic overtones, while symbolic events and issues came to play an important role. This paper will look at the development of this relationship over the century from the late 1840s to the expulsion of virtually all of the city's German-speaking citizens in May 1945, and the echoes and implications of the former German presence in the city down to the present day.

Dr Don Sparling has specialized in English Language and Literature and has played a pivotal role in introducing Canadian Studies in the Czech Republic and the broader Central European region. For more than 30 years he lectured at the Department of English and American Studies at Masaryk University in Brno in the Czech Republic. Since its inception in 2005 he has taught on the joint Masaryk University - University of Toronto summer school in Brno, which focuses on the history and culture of the Central European region. He has founded and directed the Office for International Studies at Masaryk University and he co-founded and managed the Brno Expat Centre that provides free public service to foreigners who live and work in Brno. Currently, he is the leading consultant of the Brno Expat Centre and he continues to collaborate with the Office for International Studies at Masaryk University. He is the author of the best-selling textbook English or Czenglish? and of numerous academic articles, book chapters and conference papers. More information about Don Sparling's academic activities. He also describes himself as a Brno patriot and you can read/listen to him talking about Brno.

Keynote 2

David Morley, Goldsmiths, University of London, U. K.

Saturday July 13th | Room Aula | 9:30–11:00

Territories, Boundaries, Walls and Fences: The Politics of (Im)mobility and (In)visibility

In the early 1990s we were told that the universal `victory` of market liberal capitalism, in combination with liberatory capacities of digital technology would usher in a new historical era of all-round mobility and connectivity. In this context, it was claimed, nationalism and the politics of border control would be consigned to the dustbin of history. Three decades later, we see new regimes of surveillance and mobility control as increasingly significant features of both the material and virtual geographies in which we exist. The current reconstitution of Europe’s borders, in response to the perceived threat posed by refugees from the wars in the Middle East, puts a quite new perspective on the transformations of 1989, when the removal of `Iron Curtain` rewrote the geography of Europe, from the Baltic to the Adriatic. In this context I will offer a conjunctural analysis of the differential politics of mobility and connectivity both within Europe and at its borders. Observing all this, as I do, from the point of view of a nation wracked by the self-imposed trauma of preparing to `leave` Europe, I shall also offer some observations on the role played in the rise of nationalist populism by the relatively immobile, long-term unemployed, working class denizens of the depressed post-industrial regions of Europe.

David Morley is Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. His interdisciplinary research interests span media audiences, cultural geography, technology and mobility studies. While working at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham he developed empirical research on the seminal encoding/decoding model, a part of reception theory. He has played a key role in developing the conceptual framework for studying media consumption, his Nationwide Audience (published in 1978) has been highly influential. David Morley’s subsequent work in cultural geography tackled questions of electronic media landscapes and globalisation (Spaces of Identity: Global Media, Electronic Landscapes and Cultural Boundaries co-written with Kevin Robins) as well as notions of home and nation in the context of migration and new communication technologies (Home Territories: Media, Mobility and Identity). His most recent book Communications and Mobility: The Migrant, the Mobile Phone and the Container Box explores mobility, territory, communications and transport in the 21st century. David Morley has published nine books, edited or co-edited five books and his work has been translated into 22 languages. He has held visiting Professorships/Fellowships at universities in Australia, China, France, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and the United States. More information about David Morley.

Keynote 3

Marsha Siefert, Central European University, Hungary

Sunday July 14th | Room Aula | 11:00–12:30

East-West Communication in a Revolutionary Moment and its Cinematic Legacy: New York, Moscow, Beijing 1949

Seventy years ago, in a remarkable year, Soviet cultural delegations traveled both "West" and "East". In March of 1949 seven Soviet representatives went to New York City to attend a conference for world peace and in October of that year fifty-five Soviet cultural figures visited Beijing to celebrate their successful revolution. This talk will look at these two visits through the lens of filmmaker Sergei A. Gerasimov, who was a member of both delegations, and at what his cinematic responses might tell us about intercultural communication in times of global tensions.

In 1948 Sergei A. Gerasimov, the head of the Central Documentary Studio during World War II, had just completed the film version of The Young Guard, a factually inspired, fictional paean to the role and effectiveness of communist youth in warfare. In March 1949 Gerasimov set off for the world "Peace Conference" at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, with a speech and his film, only to discover that no one was interested in either. Not so in Beijing only 6 months later, where Gerasimov’s film was received not only as triumph but as model, with numerous Chinese showings and acknowledged homage by Chinese film directors seeking to document the success of Mao’s revolution. The stories of Gerasimov's documentary films after both visits – Peace Will Conquer War (1949) and Liberated China (1950) – help to elaborate the complexities of Soviet efforts to address two of the most populous countries – when one was the most antagonistic and the other the most receptive – as foundational moments in the representation of back-to-back geopolitical realignments in the early Cold War. Thus my keynote address takes seriously the intent of the conference to examine how East-West intercultural encounters can be received, interpreted, and refashioned through film art and the interactions of its global practitioners.

Dr Marsha Siefert is Associate Professor of History at the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. She specializes in transnational communications and cultural histories that include Russia and Eastern Europe. She has edited or co-edited six books, including Mass Culture and Perestroika in the Soviet Union (1991), Extending the Borders of Russian History (2003), and Labor in State-Socialist Europe after 1945 (in press). Her research has appeared in Interstitio: East European Review of Historical Anthropology; Ukraina moderna; Journal for Arts Management, Law and Society; Journal of Communication; Science in Context; Journal of Folklore Research; and Poetics Today. Recent book chapters were published in Comparing Empires: Encounters and Transfers in the Long Nineteenth Century (2011), Cold War Cultures (2012); Divided Dreamworlds (2012); Cold War Crossings (2014) and Socialist Internationalism in the Cold War (2016). She was a visiting fellow at the Rothermere American Institute (Oxford University) and the Kennan Institute (Washington, DC). In spring 2016 she was the Inaugural Fellow for Russia and Ballet at New York University, Center for Ballet & the Arts and the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia. She currently co-edits the book series Historical Studies of Eastern Europe and Eurasia for CEU Press. More information about Marsha Siefert.

Keynote 4

Monika Metyková, University of Sussex, U. K.

Monday July 15th | Room Aula | 11:00–12:30

Encounters with Others: From Shanghai’s Pioneering Architect to Reviving Josip Broz Tito’s Birthplace

In 2015 a million Shanghai netizens voted for 99 Shanghai symbols, two of which the Park Hotel and the Normandie Apartments – were designed by Laszlo Hudec (Hugyec László). Hudec was born in Banská Bystrica in Austro-Hungary and arrived in Shanghai in 1918, having escaped from a Siberian prisoner of war camp. He died in the US in 1958 and was buried in Banská Bystrica (by then in Czechoslovakia). Questions of belonging plagued Hudec throughout his life: “It doesn't matter where I go, I will always be a stranger, a guest, or Flying Dutchman, who is at home everywhere he goes, but still has no fatherland.”

In June 2019 the news appeared that the Croatian government sold Hotel Zagorje – used as a Communist Party political school – in Kumrovec to the Zhongya Nekretnine real estate company. The Chinese businesswoman Yu Jiang was the only bidder and apart from rebuilding the hotel, she also plans to open a memorial park honouring the former President of the Yugoslav Federation Marshal Josip Broz Tito who was born in Kumrovec. It was in 1977 that Marshal Tito first visited China and travel diplomacy continued between the two countries in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1997, at a time of Yugoslavia’s international isolation, Slobodan Milošević then President of the Yugoslav Federation (with Serbia and Montenegro as member states) visited China and subsequently visa regulations were liberalized between the two countries. According to estimates about 50,000 Chinese settled down in Blok 70, an area of Serbia’s capital Belgrade.

In the conference’s closing keynote I use these examples and themes from the conference to address some of the challenges – and opportunities – that those of us researching and studying “encounters with others” face within our disciplinary and institutional settings under the current socio-economic and political conditions.

Dr Monika Metyková works as senior lecturer in media communications and journalism studies at the University of Sussex in the UK. Her research interests encompass media and democratisation, migration, media and cultural policy as well as diversity and the media. She has a long-term connection to Masaryk University in Brno, her alma mater, where she continues to collaborate with colleagues in the Department of Media and Journalism Studies. She has published widely on media/journalism and democracy and her book Diversity and the Media was published in 2016. Her most recent research has focused on the changing conditions of journalistic work in local newsrooms in the Czech Republic and on broader developments in journalism studies that can be conceptualized as part of a spatial turn. She has held elected offices in international associations, including as Vice-chair of the Diaspora, Migration and Media section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA). She is a member of the editorial board of REFRAME; EastBound: Culture, Society and Media as well as Mediální Studia/Media Studies. In 2014 she was the recipient of a Visegrad Scholarship and conducted research at the Open Society Archives in Budapest, Hungary. More information about Monika Metyková.

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