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TRANSITION DIALOGUE 2019-2021. DEALING WITH CHANGE IN DEMOCRATIC WAYS

In 2019 in parts of Europe we are marking 30 years since the beginning of transition from communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall. In two years from now in yet other parts of Eastern Europe we will mark the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the war-torn collapse of former Yugoslavia. Witnesses and drivers of those events are still actively shaping the social, political and cultural life.   Meanwhile a generation has come of age that has no direct memory neither of communism nor of transition. Their knowledge and perceptions of this recent past is mostly based on stories of the older generations and on politicized and instrumentalized discourses. Against this background and as practitioners of history and civic education, we aim at taking a closer look at two of the areas that mostly contribute to the formation of knowledge and perceptions of that recent past – the public discourse and teaching of transition. We aim at working:  
  • nationally (in seven partner countries),  
  • locally (in each of the countries outside of the large cities into the rural areas) and  
  • internationally (exchange, share knowledge and compare our findings)  
At the end of this process, we hope to have a more multifaceted and nuanced understanding of the impact of transition on societies in Eastern Europe and how history and civic education can be used to help deal with it.  We are looking forward to this joint endeavour! 
KICK-OFF Meeting, 28 to 31 July 2019, Berlin 
On 28 – 31 July we kick-started the project. Together with experts and representatives from all partner countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine – we set the stage to begin with the planned activities of the upcoming 2.5 years. These are the analysis of how transition is taught in schools on the one hand and how it is presented in the public discourse on the other. Local events will be organized in the partner countries looking at the topic from different perspectives and emphasizing on different aspects.  In addition to the work meeting amongst the partners a public fishbowl discussion on the topic “Teaching transition(s) – Stories of change after 1989”was organized in Gedenkstätte Berliner MauerMore than 50 guests joint and discussed with the experts mainly what narratives about transition exist in different countries and how they are transmitted in schools to coming generations. Interesting questions evolved around which stories and perspectives are missing in the existing narratives, whose voices are not heard etc.  Our next partner meeting will be organized from 11 – 12 November 2019 in Sofia, to share the preliminary analysis results and develop further on our working plan. We are looking forward! 
Meeting in Sofia, 11 to 12 November, Bulgaria
Apart from the numerous events Sofia Platform has organized locally around the 10th November to raise awareness on celebrating 30 years since the beginning of transition from communism, we gathered our partners from Croatia, Germany, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine for the second meeting in the context of the project Transition Dialogue (TD) here in Sofia. Within two days, on 11-12 November, we shared the preliminary results from mapping what is out there in the context of teaching transition in schools as well as looking into how the period is presented in the public discourse in our respective contexts. We compared the differences and similarities between the countries involved and identified gaps and needs to improve teaching transition to students today – a generation that has no direct memory neither of communism nor of transition. A highlight of our meeting was the ‘Freedom tour’ through Sofia, a walking tour organized by one of our leading experts – Momchil Metodiev. He presented the significant historical places for transition in Bulgaria and offered a glimpse of the atmosphere of the 90’. We are already looking forward to our third meeting in the beginning of next year and the findings we will be able to share from our ongoing investigations.
Momchil Metodiev leading the ‘Freedom tour’
Please check also our website  and our Facebook page for updates on the project.
This project is a cooperation with DRA – Deutsch-Russischer Austausch e.V.   
   
It is funded by bpb (Federal Agency for Civic Education).
Our partners on this project are: