WG 4 Workshop 2

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COST Action CA 16211 RECAST

Reappraising Intellectual Debates on Civic Rights and Democracy in Europe

Debates 2

Hosted by The Research Institute of the University of Bucharest, this second workshop of Working Group 4: Debates of COST Action RECAST is scheduled for 29–30 May 2019 in Bucharest.

Convened by Taru Haapala (University of Jyväskylä), Maria Brown (University of Malta), Alexandru Volacu (University of Bucharest) and Laura Pricop (Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi), it deals with Visions of Democratic Europe under Debate.

Call for Papers



The second workshop of the Working Group 4: Debates, entitled Visions of Democratic Europe under Debate, was hosted by the Research Institute of the University of Bucharest on 29–30 May 2019. The venue of the two-day workshop was Faculty of Sociology and Social Work.

The conveners of the workshop were Working Group 4 Leader Dr Taru Haapala and Vice-Leader Dr Maria Brown, Director of the Bucharest Center for Political Theory Dr Alexandru Volacu and RECAST Science Communications Manager Dr Laura Pricop.

The workshop included 16 presentations with in total 33 participants from 11 countries in Europe, including Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Finland, Malta and Austria.

The theme of the second workshop of the Working Group, Visions of Democratic Europe under Debate, reflected the coincidence with European parliamentary elections and the Romanian presidency of the Council of the European Union as well as related scholarly discussions on rights and democracy in Europe in Spring 2019. It was, however, also tied with the past and potential future views of democracy and rights in European debates. 

There were altogether 6 sessions touching the workshop theme, namely:

To start the workshop on 29 May, the first session focused on Civic Rights and Duties in European Democracies with presentations from Elena García-Guitián (Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain) on populist claims of direct representation and citizen participation; Vasil Gluchman (University of Prešov, Slovakia) on the experience of V4 countries of education for democracy; and Linda Hart (National Defence University, Finland) on gendered division of security labour.

The second session entitled European Discourses on Minority and Indigenous Rights had presentations by Saila Heinikoski (University of Lapland, Finland) on multilingual discourses on indigenous rights; Maria Brown (University of Malta, Malta) on discursive synergies and social movements; and Ruzha Smilova (Centre for Liberal Strategies & St. Kliment Ohridski Sofia University, Bulgaria) with a paper on gender representation in translation.

After lunch, the third session on Democratic Values in Europe: Conformity, Challenges, Limitations and Non-Debate included presentations by Meike Schmidt-Gleim (Academy of Fine Arts, Austria) on fake news in European democratic contexts; Ondřej Stulík (University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic) covering sovereignty and populism dynamics concerning civil rights and related democratic ethos; as well as the paper by Tamás Nyirkos (National University of Public Service, Hungary) on Christian Democracy in post-liberal political discourse.

At the end of the first day of the workshop, the fourth session was a testimonial by Dr Miruna Butnaru-Troncotă (Director of the Centre for European Studies, National University of Political Science and Public Administration, Romania) on tackling East-West divisions and the role of academics and activists in opening the EU debate. Notably this attracted much critical engagement among participants, with contributions of further personal testimonials of watershed and dilemma moments whereby participants engaged in public fora (traditional and social media, civil society organizations etc.) to debate and manifest visions of democratic Europe.

The second day of the workshop, on 30 May, started with session 5 entitled Understanding Visions of Democratic Europe through Localised Case Studies which had presentations from Petr Krčál (University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic) on re-framing history to re-shape the present and deviation in the populist style; Neli Velinova and Mariyan Tomov (St. Kliment Ochridski Sofia University, Bulgaria) on the European Union’s future in the 2019 election campaign, with special attention to Bulgarian candidates for the European Parliament; and Natalija Shikova (International Balkan University, North Macedonia) on the dichotomy in EU’s democracy manifested by democracy standards vis-à-vis EU supporting actions, focusing on the case of North Macedonia.

Finally, session 6 of the workshop Debate Analysis and Methodologies included presentations from Petri Koikkalainen (University of Lapland, Finland) on the concept of civil disobedience in northern European democracies; Laura Pricop (Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași, Romania) on public debates and the communicative treatment of reason (framed by Habermas’ theory); and Taru Haapala (Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain & University of Jyväskylä, Finland) on intellectual debates on federalism in European integration studies.

Working Group Leader and Vice-Leader concluded the workshop with a consultative discussion on the way forward of the two workshops’ proceedings. The workshop’s conclusion was also used as a platform to deliver information of forthcoming workshop by Working Group 1 Practices. This information was delivered by respective Leader and Vice-Leader. This testified to the collaboration and synergy potential of the Action’s working groups.

In sum, the workshop covered both theoretical and empirical approaches, which complemented each other very well. As planned in the call for papers, the multidisciplinary workshop brought together a multitude of expertise, in the fields of economics, education, political science, philosophy, sociology, and international law. These further informed the working group’s engagement with dominant, underlying (and/or counter) discourses and strategies that feature in current scholarly and public debates on civic rights and democracy in Europe; discourse engagement and manifestation at European Union, national, transnational and social movement levels; and strategies that can be implemented to broadly disseminate the knowledge on scholarly and public debates on civic rights and democracy in Europe.

(Please note this report complements the programme)

Taru Haapala, Autonomous University of Madrid & University of Jyväskylä

Maria Brown, University of Malta

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