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Privacy in Post-Communist Europe, Part II

9th Social Research Conference March 23-24, 2001

Eastern Europe has emerged from a recent communist past where everything was officially "public," privacy was unprotected, and the public sphere was etatized. The problematic public/private dichotomy of postmodern societies is particularly complicated under conditions of post-communism. Distortions of the public sphere (lack of transparency, skewed or monopolized public discourse, etc.) are aggravated by attempts to penetrate privacy in the name of public community values (e.g., in the case of abortion). Transparency is denied in the name of privacy ("personal rights" of former secret police informants prevail in some countries over public interest and the rights of victims). Furthermore, many East European societies lacked a pre-communist historical tradition of privacy, and these issues are not being systematically discussed in Eastern Europe.

This Social Research conference helped to clarify crucial policy issues such as civic education toward the development of a more responsive citizenry; data protection and access to information; the limits and responsibilities of journalism; and reproductive policies. More broadly, the conference offered a valuable point of reference and helped to put the East European issues into a global context in terms of both prevailing cultural influences and intellectual discourse.

This conference is funded by a grant from the Open Society Institute, The Russell Sage Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation.

To order the related issue of Social Research: An International Quarterly



Friday, March 23rd

Session 1: Private/Public: The Distinction

Landscape of Privacy Renata Salecl, Senior Researcher, Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana; Slovenia Commentator: Anna Wessely, Associate Professor of Sociology, Institute of Sociology and Social Policy, Eötvös Loránd University; Hungary Development of the Concept Joe Bailey, Director of Graduate Studies, Kingston University; United Kingdom Commentator: Nenad Miscevic, Professor of Philosophy at the Philosophy Department of the University of Maribor, Slovenia

Session 2: Present Understandings of Public/Private as Emerging from Communism

Publicity and Media in Communism and After: The Destruction of Privacy Piotr Stasinski, Journalist, Gazeta Wyborcza; Poland Commentator: Oksana Zabuzhko, Senior Research Associate, Institute of Philosophy, Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences and Humanities; Ukraine Collectivity and Community: Is It Public in Russia? Elena Zdravomyslova, Centre for Independent Social Research, Saint Petersburg, Russia Commentator: Júlia Szalai, Professor of Sociology, Institute of Sociology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Session 3: States and Boundaries

Private Lives, Secret States Mark Neocleous, Lecturer, Brunel University; United Kingdom Commentator: István Szikinger, Ph.D., Practicing Lawyer, Budapest, Hungary Invasions of Privacy: Wiretapping and Secret Data Storage Andrzej Rzeplinski, Professor of Criminal and Constitutional Law, Warsaw University; Poland Commentator: László Majtényi, Parliamentary Commissioner, Data Protection and Freedom of Information; Hungary

Keynote Address

Marc Rotenberg, Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center

Saturday, March 24

Session 4: States and Boundaries (cont.)

Uses and Abuses of the Concept of Privacy János Kis, University Professor of Political Science and of Philosophy at Central European University, Budapest Commentator: András Sajó, Head of the Legal Studies Department, Central European University, Budapest The Borders of Privacy: Personality Rights in Comparison Roger Errera, Justice, Le Conseil d'Etat; France Commentator: Susanne Baer, Professor of Law, Humboldt University, Berlin Reproduction, Self, and State Judit Sándor, Professor of Political Science, Central European University; Hungary Commentator: Dominique Memmi, Researcher in Political Science and Sociology, Institut de Recherche sur les Societes Contemporaines, Paris

Session 5: Democratic Process and Non-Public Politics

Public and Private Discourse and the Emerging European Politics of Prejudice András Kovács, Professor of History, Nationalism Studies Program, Central European University Commentator: Nils Muiznieks, Director of the Latvian Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies; Latvia Sedition and Civil Solidarity: An Old Problem Re-Visited G. M. Tamás, Professor of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Hungary Commentator: Mark Neocleous, Lecturer, Brunel University, United Kingdom Anonymity, Democracy, and Cyberspace Yaman Akdeniz, Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, Faculty of Law, University of Leeds; United Kingdom Commentator: Péter György, FA Department of Aesthetics, Eötvös Loránd University; Hungary

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