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People Power: Polish Solidarity and the Ukrainian Revolution

When May 05, 2016
from 03:00 PM to 08:00 PM
Where William Mong Hall, Sidney Sussex College
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As part of an ongoing commitment to the exploration of Polish-Ukrainian issues, Cambridge Polish StudiesCambridge Ukrainian Studies and the Forum on Geopolitics present a public symposium on the connections between two popular revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe: the Polish “Solidarity” revolution of the 1980s and the “Maidan” movement (or movements) of post-1991 independent Ukraine.

Speakers will include:

  • Krzysztof Bobiński (former co-chair of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum)
  • Zbigniew Bujak (legendary leader of the Solidarity movement)
  • Paweł Kowal (former delegate to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee)
  • Andrii Portnov (historian at Humboldt University)
  • Marci Shore (intellectual historian at Yale University)
  • Oksana Zabuzhko (Ukraine’s most celebrated contemporary novelist)

In two sessions of presentations and discussion, we will examine the legacy of Poland’s Solidarity movement and the possible connections with Ukraine’s “Maidan” revolutions, especially the Euromaidan Revolution of 2014. In particular, we will ask whether there are lessons to be learned from Poland’s successful post-1989 transition, and whether Ukrainian activists can draw on the experience of Poland’s anti-communist civil society movement as they attempt to force lasting change to the institutions of a new democracy.

What are the major contextual similarities and differences between the two movements? How did Solidarity manage the transition from civic movement to political force shaping democratic institutions? What is the current significance of Polish support for Ukraine? How have Solidarity veterans – including Zbigniew Bujak – shared their experience with Ukrainian civil society groups? What is the present state of the Ukrainian Revolution and how can it continue to move forward?