The main purposes of this conference was to assemble a collection of original thinkers and social scientists to exchange ideas from a variety of perspectives and social science disciplines and ponder lessons on the political, economic and social changes that have taken place in the past quarter of a century.
As the 25th anniversary of the fall of Communism in Albania approaches, it’s time to assess what has changed since then in this once most rigid Communist society of Europe. The University of New York Tirana Institute for Studies on Democracy and Development marked this anniversary with reflections on the historic events of December 1990, as well as the lead-up to—and the aftermath of—the collapse of the Communist system in Albania. We assembled in an international conference in Tirana a collection of original thinkers and social scientists to exchange ideas from a variety of perspectives and social science disciplines and ponder lessons on the political, economic and social changes that have taken place in the past quarter of a century.
In Albania, as in most post-communist societies of Central and Eastern Europe, a number of problems pertaining to political, economic and social transformation have an urgency that is still unmatched by social science research. The response to such problems has by and large been disappointing and many of them continue to be neglected and under-researched. Therefore, one of the purposes of the conference will be to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences on issues of a common interest among scholars and practitioners from various East European societies.
As a kickoff event (on Friday, November the 27th, 2015), UNYT was honored to have as keynote speakers in this conference two of the most renowned scholars on democratic transitions in our days: Prof. Claus Offe (Germany) and Prof. Michael Kennedy (USA). Claus Offe, currently Emeritus Professor at the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, is a major international figure in social science, a prominent representative of the tradition of Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School and one of the world’s leading political sociologists. Prof. Offe’s address to the conference was titled “Revisiting Transitions: Pathways and Obstacles”. Michael Kennedy is one of the most influential American theorists of the democratic transitions in Central and Eastern Europe, currently Professor of Sociology and International Relations at Brown University, one of the eight Ivy League universities in the U.S. Prof. Kennedy’s address to this event is titled “What Was 20th Century Transition Culture and What Has Come Next?”.