International conference: Dissidents as Figures of Truth (since the 1970s), 14 – 16 July 2021, online

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Organised by the research initiative “(East) European Epistemologies” (Friedrich Cain, Dietlind Hüchtker, Bernhard Kleeberg, Karin Reichenbach and Jan Surman), with the Faculty Centre for Transdisciplinary Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Vienna; Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Leipzig; Research Group “Praxeologies of Truth”, University of Erfurt; Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Science; in cooperation with International Memorial

What do Andrei Sakharov, Noam Chomsky, Protestant Nonconformists separating from the Church of England in the 17th and 18th centuries, and today’s mask opponents have in common? They all have at times been called, and identified themselves as, dissidents. Though, we almost intuitively associate dissidents with Soviet intellectual nonconformists, and those from other countries of the Eastern Bloc.

At our conference, we want to look more closely at how the figure of the “dissident” became constructed and solidified across the Iron Curtain and after the fall of the Soviet Union. We will focus on practices, techniques, and media settings which (co)produce the dissident as a (mostly male) “truth figure”, which includes practices of staging oneself, and ways of embodying the (epistemic) values and virtues associated with this figure.

The participation in the workshop is limited. To register and for further information, please contact Karin Reichenbach (

Keynote, round table and final discussion will be open to the public. To sign up, please follow

For technical help, please contact Ines Rößler (


Program (all times in Central European Summer Time, UCT +2):

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

18:00 – 20:00 Public Keynote (registration:

Maike Lehmann (Bremen): Of prophets, martyrs and bothersome annoyances: on the de/canonization of Soviet “dissidents” in the West

Thursday, 15 July 2021

9:00 – 9:30 Friedrich Cain (Vienna), Dietlind Hüchtker (Vienna), Bernhard Kleeberg (Erfurt), Karin Reichenbach (Leipzig) and Jan Surman (Leipzig): Introduction


Barbara Martin (Basel): Roy and Zhores Medvedev: No “true” dissidents?

Olga Rosenblum (Moscow): Dissidents of the 1970s: “Truth figure” among other figures, “truth” as a value among other values

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00 

Anastassiya Schacht (Vienna): “And how is it there, over the ocean?” - Soviet dissidents reaching the West

Jonas Kaiser (Hildesheim): Dissidents and the trust-building process of the Vienna CSCE-follow-up meeting 1986-89

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break

14:00 – 16:15

Barbara J. Falk (Toronto): Václav Havel as dissident: purveyor of truth and philosopher of responsibility

Tatiana Levina (Moscow): Lina Tumanova: philosopher, dissident

David Aitken (Montreal): The historical particularities of dissent as a demand for truth

18:00 – 20:00 Public Round Table (registration:

Dissidence and Feminism: Public Round Table with Małgorzata Grabowska (Warsaw), Sasha Talaver (Vienna), Zsófia Lóránd (Cambridge) and Natalia Kolyagina (Moscow). (in cooperation with Memorial International)

Friday, 16 July 2021

9:00 – 10:30 

Thuc Linh Nguyen Vu (Vienna): Continuities and disruptions: Many faces of Jacek Kuroń in post-1989 Poland

Michal Ďurčo (Bratislava), Doubravka Olšáková (Prague): Dissidents against their will: the case of environmental activists in Czechoslovakia during the 1980's

10:30 – 11:00 Coffee Break

11:00 – 12:30

Elena Korowin (Freiburg): The dissident artist and the “true” art

Klavdia Smola (Dresden): Performing dissidence in Russia since 2000: Aesthetical resources of (un)truth 

12:30 – 13:00 Lunch Break

13:00 – 14:30 

Andreea Deciu Ritivoi (Pittsburgh): Dissidence and historical revisionism

Ioana Macrea-Toma (Budapest/Vienna): In search for contours in the archives: beyond contextualism and normativism regarding dissidents

14:30 – 14:45 Coffee Break

14:45 – 15:45 Public Final Discussion (registration: With Susanne Schattenberg (Bremen), Simone Attilio Belezza (Naples), Stefan Garsztecki (Chemnitz)