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Havel and Our Crisis: An International Conference of Scholars and Leaders

September 28, 2022September 30, 2022


We live in troubled times. The COVID-19 pandemic lingers on, inequality and fragmentation are at alarming levels, disinformation and fake news proliferate, attacks on democratic institutions multiply, and radical tendencies are growing. Internationally, core norms of sovereignty and self-determination are under assault with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine destabilizing the European order. Western liberal democracy is not well.

This conference seeks to respond to these developments. It revolves around Václav Havel (1936-2011), one of the 20th century’s greatest champions of freedom, democracy, human rights, European integration, and transatlantic cooperation. The aim is to take stock of his intellectual, political, and spiritual legacy and to search this legacy for solutions to the burning problems of our time.

The conference will be from Wednesday, September 28 to Friday, September 30, and will feature world-famous scholars, award-winning filmmakers, top-level diplomats, as well as Havel’s advisors, biographers, and friends. The keynote address will be given by Michael Žantovský, a Czech diplomat, politician, writer, translator, and current executive director of Václav Havel Library in Prague, wuill give the keynote address Wednesday, September 28, 7:00 p.m.

Historian Timothy Snyder, a professor at Yale University, will give a lecture at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, September 29, about Havel and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Roundtables earlier that day will bring participants together to discuss the crises of values, language, truth, and kindness.

Filmmaker James Le Sueur will introduce and participate in a Q&A at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, prior to a screening of his award-winning 2020 documentary, The Art of Dissent, which celebrates the power of artistic engagement in Czechoslovakia before and after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion.

The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre, which has toured around the U.S., Poland, and the Czech Republic, will perform Havel’s 1975 play, Audience, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 30, and Saturday, October 1 at Strider Theater.

The conference also includes roundtable discussions during the day on Thursday. See the conference website for the full scheduled of events. Except for the play in Strider Theater, all events will take place in Ostrove Auditorium.


September 28, 2022
September 30, 2022


Milan Babík
View Organizer Website


Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building, Colby College
Mayflower Hill Drive
Waterville, ME
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