After the inauguration

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2011-09-08

The Congress opened with a lecture delivered by Professor Zygmunt Bauman, who discussed the future of Europe as a community, in the political, geographic, and cultural sense. Among the guests of the inaugural ceremonies were Polish President Bronisław Komorowski, Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski, and Wrocław Mayor Rafał Dutkiewicz.

Quoting the words of Gadamer, “To live with the Other, as the Other of the Other, is the basic human task,” Professor Bauman emphasized Europe’s particularly rich — yet often difficult — experience with the Other. He remarked that in contemporary Europe, it is often our next-door neighbor who is the Other, and whom we must engage in dialog. The political future of Europe, a mosaic of diasporas, depends on the fate of culture, the philosopher explained. From a bird’s eye view, the contemporary world appears to be an archipelago of diasporas, a multi-layered reality woven from various identities, experiences, and traditions. Hence it is all the more crucial that we redefine the identity of Europe and open ourselves up to its liquidity. Zygmunt Bauman concluded his lecture with the observation: “The time has come for us to consider whether the geographical past of Central Europe could in fact be the future of European culture.”

Professor Zygmunt Bauman participated in preparations for the Congress from its earliest stages. On the initiative of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Professor Bauman wrote a book about the birth and development of culture as a concept and its prospects for future evolution. Culture in a Liquid Modern World was published in the spring as a part of the National Cultural Program of the 2011 Presidency.

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