Dialogues by the Fireplace – “Crisis, Unrest and Change in 2015 Romania”

Export Club (www.export-club.ro), with the generous support of SC Bulboacă și Asociații www.bulboaca.com and with additional support from a number of partners and sponsors, is pleased to announce a monthly series of debates: 

Dialogues by the Fireplace

Since 1989, the symbolic, political, economic, and human geographies of Europe have been frequently envisaged and redrawn as a (both nostalgic and promising) palimpsest of overlapping, fluid, transnational multiple borderlands under the ever-enlarging starred canopy of the European Union. But how accurate were these visions of a post-historical (on the other hand, post-utopian), affluent, conflict-free future? The wars in Yugoslavia (a European, not a local or regional event) and, most recently, the crisis in Ukraine (a combination of reignited frozen conflicts, economic warfare and foreign military intervention disguised as domestic paramilitary unrest), as well as the mass migrations and terrorist upsurge of 2015 have dramatically shown to what extent Europe was still shaped and driven by the logic of history: the modern nation-state reaffirms itself in EU’s East (with its corollaries: ethnic nationalism, protectionism, Realpolitik, etc.), while its ‘withering away’ seems reversing its trend in EU’s West; globalization proceeds at an ever-accelerated pace, transforming every single detail of our existence, while the EU seems unable to deal with the consequences of this tidal wave, especially with its unintended or consciously understated, chronically denied causes, nature, depth, and effects. We live in times of crisis, unrest, and change.

With all this in mind, Dialogues by the Fireplace — a series of monthly debates — is launched.

The series addresses its topics in a systematic and competent way, while engaging a milieu of intelligent professionals in a cordial environment, and opening up to the wider public. We shall go beyond the ‘Theory of Romania’ (Cioran’s self-ironic phrase for our endless ruminations disconnected from action), but we don’t forget about it, as theory cannot be isolated from practice.

The working language is English, while interventions also by livestreamin Romanian and other languages are welcome.

Distinguished invited speakers, as well as a select audience of professionals — academics, business leaders, public intellectuals, politicians, diplomats, media personalities, etc. — will get together once a month and engage in an informal dialogue on the forces and challenges that shape the world we live in, in a medium – and long-term perspective. From more abstract debates on globalization, the ‘spirit of capitalism’ or the symbolic geography of our continent to the concrete issues faced by Romania, its regions, its neighborhood, and the European Union, these dialogues address some of the most burning issues of our time. Meetings include brief comprehensive statements by the series’ host and his special guests, followed by a discussion that is to be recorded, broadcast live on the Net, and used in the preparation of further meetings (including an annual conference) and publications.

The Burning Issues series opens with:

Dialogues by the Fireplace  –  “Crisis, Unrest and Change in 2015 Romania”

Monday, December 14, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, SCA Bulboacă și Asociații, Dumbrava Roșie Street,  Nr. 10, Bucharest

Participation in this event is by invitation only

it`s different because it`s live


Website registration is located at: www.export-club.ro

Livestream on fb

live musicalintermezzo: Complement a relaxing evening at home enjoying our Dialogues, with an calming collection of classical favorites


Introduction and Moderation: Sorin Antohi


Invited Speakers: Vintilă Mihăilescu, Cătălin Augustin Stoica, Liviu Chelcea

The sudden changes of the last month or so were too momentous and thorough to have been uniquely or mainly caused by the tragic loss of life at Colectiv, while they may appear to have been triggered by that haunting disaster. Our debate shall be inspired by an analysis of both these recent events and of their contexts. A number of questions need to be asked, including the following ones: What was the nature of the crisis Romania was/is going through? What is its ‘natural history’ (causes, actors, effects)? What are its solutions? What about public unrest in Romania? Is it endemic? Is it popular? Is it spontaneous? What about change? How does it happen? Where is agency located? Was the country prepared for this particular change? Was the country expecting it? Who was working on it? Who are its winners and losers? How can we have change as evolution rather than revolution?

Sorin Antohi is a freelance historian of ideas, essayist, translator, and consultant. He has studied English, French, and History in Iași and Paris. He has taught mainly at the University of Michigan, the University of Bucharest, and the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest. He has taught, conducted research, lectured, (co)organized conferences and (co)directed academic projects in thirty countries. Among others, he has served as a member of the Board of the International Committee of Historical Sciences. He currently co-edits with Jörn Rüsen and Chun-chieh Huang the book series, Reflections on (In)Humanity (Wandenhoeck & Ruprecht and National Taiwan University Press).

Vintilă Mihăilescu is a Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Department of Sociology at the National School of Political Sciences and Administration (SNSPA) in Bucharest. He has also taught in France, Switzerland, Belgium Italy, and Canada. He has published widely in many countries, mostly on rural sociology, material culture, and anthropological theory. A former director of the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, he has founded the Romanian Society of Cultural Anthropology, and the first Romanian MA program in Cultural Anthropology. His latest book is Apologia pîrleazului (Iași: Polirom, 2015), part of his long-term project of public anthropology.

Cătălin Augustin Stoica has studied Sociology at the University of Bucharest (BA), CEU (MA), and Stanford University (PhD). He is an Associate Professor of Sociology at SNSPA, and director of the Center for Urban and Regional Sociology (CURS). His has published in some of the best journals in his fields, including papers on the social origins of the Romanian Communist Party, post-communist capitalism in Romania (in East European Politics and Societies and Historical Social Research). With Vintilă Mihăilescu, he has edited the collective volume, Iarna vrajbei noastre: protestele din România, ianuarie-februarie 2012 (Bucharest: Paideia, 2012).

Liviu Chelcea has studied Sociology at the University of Bucharest (BA), History at CEU (MA), and Social Anthropology at the University of Michigan (PhD). He specializes in urban anthropology. He is a Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Bucharest. He has published in many prestigious journals, including Anthropology of Work ReviewCultural Studies, Comparative Studies in Society and History, International Journal of Urban and Regional ResearchTime and Society. His publications include a book on the de-industrialization of Bucharest: Bucureștiul postindustrial. Memorie, dezindustrializare și regenerare urbană (Iași: Polirom, 2008).

Lazăr Vlăsceanu is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Bucharest. He has studied Philosophy, Education, and Sociology at the University of Bucharest and the University of London. He has held senior positions in his university, in the Ministry of Education and Science, in various national and international education, research, and civic institutions and organizations, including UNESCO-CEPES (European Center for Higher Education). He has published widely on the methodology of sociological research, sociology of education, the sociological theory of modernity. His most recent book, co-authored with Marian-Gabriel Hâncean, is Modernitatearomânească (Pitești: Paralela 45, 2014).