Marek Szilvasi

Back to the future – Livable life between nostalgia and utopia

As hundreds of representatives of civil society from Western Balkan countries assembled in Trieste for the Civil Society Forum, CAS co-organized a kick-off event which included the screening of the documentary “Trieste, Yugoslavia” and a lively debate themed “Back to the future – Livable life between nostalgia and utopia”. Introduced by Franz Karl Prueller of the ERSTE Foundation and Branka Panić from the European Fund for the Balkans, the event took place in the Revoltella Museum Gallery of Modern Art. CAS directors, staff, and fellows welcomed the diverse audience, which included civil society representatives from the region, academics and various local actors.

CAS’s choice of the documentary “Trieste, Yugoslavia” by Alessio Bozzer to open the discussions took advantage of the Forum’s special location in a city with an urban history closely intertwined with that of the Western Balkans. The documentary explored the particularly important role of Trieste for many Yugoslav citizens who traveled there during socialist time to buy goods, as the first city across a border which gradually became more open and more porous, rather unique in the overall context of the Cold War. The film pondered upon practices of border crossings and aspirations of shoppers and sellers alike. It touched upon the diverse experiences of people coming from republics close and far, to buy jeans or coffee, by car, train, or packed buses, creative strategies of coping with border regulations, while also mentioning the underlying tensions and discriminatory tones existing the host city regarding the visitors from the nearby country, with their alterity derived from ethnicity-based  stereotypes – with a longer history than the film alludes- and the ideological representations of a Cold War border. Ending abruptly with the scenes of emptied streets and stalls while wars descend upon former Yugoslavia and borders close, the film prompted a debate which shifted from nostalgia to utopia, perceptions from within the former Yugoslavia and the outer region, and musings of perspectives for freedom, equality and solidarity in the region.

 

The debate „Back to the future – Livable life between nostalgia and utopia” was moderated by CAS’s Vedran Džihić and featured special guest, Rade Šerbedžija, CAS SEE Honorary Fellow, Professor Emeritus at the University of Rijeka, who also appeared in the documentary. Vedran Džihić asked the panel, which also included Snježana Prijić-Samaržija, Chancellor, University of Rijeka, Marek Szilvasi, CAS SEE Fellow and Gruia Bădescu, CAS SEE Fellow, to spontaneously reflect on three concepts that relate both to the film and the challenges and opportunities of civil society in the Western Balkans: nostalgia for the past, utopias for the future, and the meaning of freedom in the contemporary context.  The panel participants first approached the film from their positionality: Snježana Prijić-Samaržija and Rade Šerbedžija as citizens of former Yugoslavia for whom both trips to Trieste and the discontinuities of the 1990s triggered memories and emotional reflections,  Marek Szilvasi and Gruia Bădescu as growing up in other socialist societies – Czechoslovakia and Romania, respectively- for which borders were distinctively rigid and for which Yugoslavia, with its open borders and closeness to the West exerted a particular fascination. The two CAS fellows also discussed the tensions that emerge from the film regarding material aspirations and disparities, ideological clashes, as well as in the difference between accounts of celebrated intellectuals and artists, and the anonymized shopper, who becomes a mere “witness” in the account of the film.

These tensions between whose stories, whose narratives, and whose nostalgia were to be discussed emerged throughout the debate. While common tropes of urban versus rural, kulturni and nekulturni ljudi, appeared as explanatory frameworks of 1990s events, Bădescu pointed out from his research in Sarajevo how nostalgias for a cosmopolitan past could also lead to different forms of exclusion of newcomers, burning possible bridges and utopias for what Hanna Arendt called a “world in common”.  Arendt was frequently mentioned by panelists, with Džihić inquiring about freedom from the perspective of both Arendt and material relations. Both Bădescu and Szilvasi addressed the question of freedom from its relationship to human dignity, equality and solidarity. Snježana Prijić-Samaržija brought forward the role of CAS as an institution which embodies the aspiration to research both issues surrounding the past as well as potentialities and utopias at the scale of Southeastern Europe. All throughout, Rade Šerbedžija’s interventions captured the lived experience of the events evoked in the film, nostalgia and exile, sublimated in creative acts, which included two live performances on stage of his songs. They included “Second Call”, which was translated in English and read by CAS Fellow Nataša Sardžoska. His second act, Djevojka iz moga kraja closed the debate, which was followed by a reception and a tour of the exhibit of the Revoltella Museum Gallery of Modern Art. The Civil Society Forum started the following morning, with Trieste again a stage of diverse people and perspectives from the Western Balkans.

 

MAREK SZILVASI

Does it matter for excluded Roma whether water is public or private? Case study of Slovenia

“Access to water especially in geographic regions threatened by water scarcity, have been increasingly elevated to the centre of the attention of governments, international community, and businesses across the world. Many political leaders and CEOs of multinational corporations have integrated water in their agenda and stated that water has become a new (blue) gold, and it should now to be treated like oil.
The predictions of irreversible water scarcity and consequential global corporate grab due to its increasing value might sound to most of us in Europe as a problem of the third world, or a scene from a science fiction movie or distant future at best. We take clean drinking water for granted. It is abundant and affordable, provided directly in our homes, and checked continuously to ensure it meets quality and safety standards.
Yet, not only that most of the water corporations and their advocacy groups have headquarters in Europe, all across Europe there are people living without access to improved water resources and sanitation. According to the United Nations Economic Committee for Europe (UNECE) and World Health Organisation (WHO), 12 per cent of population, some 110 million people, in the pan-European region is still without access to safe drinking water, and many of them are Roma.
In November 2016, in response to a citizens’ campaign, Slovenia became the first EU country to add the right to water to its Constitution, but the implementation of the new constitutional right has yet to be observed, especially in Romani communities.
After decades of petitioning local authorities to provide their households with drinking water and functioning sanitation, in March 2014, 16 Roma from two Roma neighbourhoods in Slovenia filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The Hudorovič, Novak and Others v. Slovenia cases became the first right to water case at the ECtHR.
By analysing the case study of Slovenia, the first EU country, which recognised the right to water in its Constitution (2016) while also the first country sued at the European Court of Human Rights for failing to secure access to water to their citizens of Roma origin (2014), this presentation will point out the complex discourse of contemporary water movements and the very specific position of Roma living in social exclusion and housing informality. I will argue that despite the progressive legal framework and social movements claiming the right to water, the concerns of Roma are often neglected not only by the private and public water suppliers, but also by water activists. Due to the prevailing situation of anti-Roma discrimination and social exclusion, Roma have to make parallel claims on the access to water.”


Marek Szilvasi an independent scholar-activist. He received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Aberdeen, the United Kingdom, MA in Sociology and Philosophy from the Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic, and MA in the European Studies (Europe in the Wider World) from the University of Groningen, Netherlands. His PhD research has been sponsored by the interdisciplinary Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society, and Rule of Law (CISRUL).
His primary research interests lie in the fields of sociology of (human) rights, political philosophy, socio-legal and post-colonial theories, citizenship, social inclusion and equality paradigms, and environmental justice, all these with a particular focus on the situation of Roma in European societies.
Marek teaches at the Institute of Politics and International Studies of the ELTE University in Budapest, Hungary, and works as Head of research and human rights education of the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC). He is also a board member of the PAD Foundation advocating environmental justice in CEE. He has been awarded the Martin Alexandersson Research Scholarship of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for 2017.

 

 

 

 

CAS SEE FELLOWS INAUGURATION

The Center for Advanced Studies – Southeast Europe (CAS SEE) at the University of Rijeka organized the 5th Fellows Inauguration at the University Campus Akvarij caffé on Thursday, March 16, 2017.

The Fellows will stay and work at the CAS SEE premises in the following ten months divided in two terms (Spring and Autumn 2017/2018) and present their research to the representatives of the University, the Academia and the public.


Themes of their research are relevant for the current social and humanistic political debates which focus on:
1.            Making Inclusive Cities: Towards Participatory Governance Practices 
2.           Critical Theory

During their stay in Rijeka, the CAS-SEE fellows will, according to their research themes and proposals, be involved in the work of the Sweet&Salt flagship, hosted by the CAS SEE, within the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project.

The fifth generation of CAS SEE Fellows was welcomed by:
Vice-rector for Students and Studies, Full Prof. Snježana Prijić-Samaržžija, Ph.D., Rector-elect at the University of Rijeka, Executive director of CAS SEE, Ass. Prof. Sanja Bojanić, Ph.D., Vice-Dean for International relations at the Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka, Irena Kregar – Šegota, Development and Strategic Partnerships Director, Rijeka 2020 Agency, Full Prof. Idis Turato, Sweet&Salt Flagship Director (Rijeka 2020 – ECOC)

Please join us in congratulating the following 2017-2018 Spring and Autumn CAS-SEE Fellowship Awards, University of Rijeka recipients:

SPRING 2017

Mateja Kurir  (Ljubljana, Slovenia) Architecture as ideology: the perspectives of critical theory from modernism to the present
Gruia Badescu (Oxford University, UK) Spatializing Cultural Policies and Activism in Croatia and Romania: A Comparative, Transnational Study
Marek Szilvasi (Budapest, Hungary) Between Commodity and Common Public Good: Access to Water and its Relevance for Roma People in Europe
Natasha Sardžoska (Skopje, Macedonia) Mapping of spatial memory in limitrophe cities, landscapes, borders and bodies in Istria
Gregor Moder (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) Critical Theory. Truth in Politics: Comedy, Sophistry and Critique
Marija Ott Franolić (Zagreb, Croatia) Read, Think, Act

2017-2018 CAS SEE FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENTS

The Center for Advanced Studies, Southeast Europe (CAS SEE) at the University of Rijeka is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017-2018 CAS SEE Fellowship Awards.

The purpose of the CAS SEE Fellowship Programme is to further the research or creative work in the humanities and humanistic social sciences in the Balkans. Fellows will present their work within the CAS-Collegium on a bi-weekly basis, creating an intellectually heterogeneous atmosphere and fostering a productive self-examination and even friction, which may lead to new and unexpected ideas and innovation.

Please join us in congratulating the following 2017-2018 Spring and Autumn CAS-SEE Fellowship Awards, University of Rijeka recipients:

Spring

Mateja Kurir Borovčić (Ljubljana, Slovenia) Architecture as ideology: the perspectives of critical theory from modernism to the present

Gruia Badescu (Oxford University, UK) Spatializing Cultural Policies and Activism in Croatia and Romania: A Comparative, Transnational Study

Marek Szilvasi (Budapest, Hungary) Between Commodity and Common Public Good: Access to Water and its Relevance for Roma People in Europe

Natasha Sardžoska (Skopje, Macedonia) Mapping of spatial memory in limitrophe cities, landscapes, borders and bodies in Istria

Gregor Moder (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) Critical Theory. Truth in Politics: Comedy, Sophistry and Critique

Marija Ott Franolić (Zagreb, Croatia) Read, Think, Act

Autumn

Milorad Kapetanović (London, UK) Regulation of Informal Construction in Rijeka in the Anticipation of European Capital of Culture Rijeka

Mónica Cano Abadía (Zaragoza, Spain) The Re-Radicalization of Critical Thinking: Toward a Global Social Justice

Chiara Destri (University of Milan, Italy) No Democracy For Devils: Democratic Authority, Citizenship and Parties

Caterina Bonora (University of Bremen; Jacobs University Bremen, Germany) Ne da(vi)mo Beograd and the “new wave” activism in the post-Yugoslav space 

Tom Whyman (University of Essex, UK) Research Proposal: Adorno’s Concept of Natural-History: Crisis and Critical Theory

Davide Pala (University of Torino, Italy) World Poverty, Radical Inequalities and Neo-Republicanism: What Does Non-Domination Normatively Demand and Institutionally Imply in regard to the Poorest?

Carlo Burelli (University of Milan, Italy) A Theory of Order