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The More We Did, the More We Were Able To Do: A New Look at the Legacy of Charter 77 and Vaclav Havel

The More We Did, the More We Were Able To Do: A New Look at the Legacy of Charter 77 and Vaclav Havel
1 Devonshire Place, Room 108N, Munk School of Global Affairs
Time: Jan 30th, 2:00 pm End: Jan 30th, 4:00 pm
Interest Categories: Slavic Studies (FAS), History (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC)
Panel Discussion

The Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies presents

The More We Did, the More We Were Able To Do: A New Look at the Legacy of Charter 77 and Václav Havel

The occasion is the 40th anniversary of the release of Charter 77, the manifesto of the Czechoslovak human rights initiative that blossomed into a broad-based movement that helped to undermine the totalitarian regime in that country. Two of the participants, Martin Palouš and Martin Šimsa, were signatories of the manifesto and activists in the movement. David Dušek is the grandson of one of the main instigators of Charter 77, and the event will also celebrate the publication, by the Václav Havel library in Prague, of a facsimile edition of a diary Havel kept when he was arrested and imprisoned in January 1977, just after the release of Charter 77. Dušek has also discovered a lengthy essay Havel wrote shortly after his release. Both these documents shed new light on how the regime tried to suppress the Charter movement, and indeed, all opposition.

We're hoping the event will be more than just a look back at an important turning point in Central European history, but that it might also provide a look at Havel's legacy in the light of what we are facing now. The title of the event comes from Havel's characterization of another era of great change and uncertainty: "The more we did, the more we were able to do, and the more we were able to do, the more we did.

Chair: Robert C Austin, CERES

Discussant: Veronika Ambros, Slavic Languages and Literatures


David Dusek

David Dusek is founding partner and managing director of a consultancy firm specializing in legislative process. At the same time, due to his family heritage, he became amateur archivist and publisher. He is also the grandson of one of Vaclav Havel's closest friends, the Czech translator and writer Zdenek Urbanek. Two years ago, David discovered a lost notebook kept by Havel when he was imprisoned in 1977 for his leadership in Charter 77. He helped to organize its publication in Prague last year. In January David published the first chapter of the "lost" report on first days of Charter 77 written by Vaclav Havel and then lost.

Martin Palous
Martin Palouš studied Natural Science, Philosophy and International Law. In 1974 he received Doctorate of Natural Sciences (RNDr). In 2001 he earned Higher Doctorate in Political Science/Philosophy (Associate Professorship) at Charles University. In 2007 he got PhD in Public International Law.
Since January of 2011, Martin Palous is Senior Fellow and Director of Vaclav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy at School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University. He is also President of Vaclav Havel Library Foundation and President of International Platform for Human Rights in Cuba.
He belonged to the original signatories of Charter 77, served as its spokesperson in 1986 and participated at the creation of Civic Forum during the Velvet Revolution (November 1989). After the fall of Communism he was a member of Parlament (1990), Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs (1990-1992, 1998-2001), Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United States (2001-2005) and Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations (2006-2011).

Martin Simsa
Martin Šimsa teaches philosophy at Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Jan Evangelista Purkyn? in Ústí and Labem, Czech Republic. The main topics of his research and teaching is political philosophy, deliberative theory of democracy, philosophical hermeneutics and Czech philosophy. He cooperated with conscientious objectors of compulsory military service and he signed the human rights document Charter 77 in 1978. He took part in protest activities in Brno along with other signatories of Charter 77, was active in the underground and among young Christians. He participated in seminars of professor Bo?ena Komárková and philosopher Ladislav Hejdánek. He printed and distributed an illegal newsletter titled Information about Charter 77 (INFOCH) and as well as samizdat literature. He presented human rights topics at synods of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren as a representative of youth in 1985, 1987 and 1989, which took place during the time of the Velvet revolution 1989. On November 18 at 0:30 hours The Church Synod condemned the brutal police attack against students and young people on Národní t?ída and challenged the government to lead a dialogue with the human rights activists groups. He studied philosophy after Velvet Revolution (1990-1995) at Charles University and in 2001 he received a Ph.D. in philosophy there.

Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson lived and worked in Czechoslovakia for ten years, from 1967-1977, when he was expelled during the regime's campaign against Charter 77. Since then, he has translated the work of many Czech writers, including Josef Škvorecký, Bohumil Hrabal, Ivan Klíma, and Václav Havel. He co-authored Fifty-seven Hours, about the Moscow theatre siege in 2002. A collection of his essays on Czech subjects, Bohemian Rhapsodies, was published in Prague in 2011. His most recent translation is a collection of short stories by Bohumil Hrabal, Mr. Kafka and Other Takes from the Time of the Cult. (New Directions, 2015)


Rudolf and Rosalie Cermak Fund

This event is free and open to all. Registration is required. For further information, please contact Joseph Hawker

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