Who: Central European Forum

Where: Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina

When: 2021

With: East West Center

Lonely Nations - is a joint project of two grassroots cultural initiatives, organically related to each other - the Central European Forum to Bratislava and the East West Center in Sarajevo. Both share the same focus on authentic dialogue between the European and global East and West, North and South. In order to enhance and open up our national and regional contexts, both strive to blur frontiers between culture and societal reflection. And both are rooted in a long tradition of civic defiance and defence of human dignity. 


In November 2021, the project will build a platform for a dialogue between their respective audiences and some of the most thought provoking literary authors, economists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists of our times in a series of public debates - introducing international panels of 2 to 4 speakers, comprising different generations, different parts of the world and different viewpoints, together with the most interesting national authors. Instead of inviting speakers from other continents separately to events in Slovakia and Bosnia, we would invite them jointly, increasing our chances of high-quality debates, while saving financial and environmental costs.


If the pandemic allows, speakers from Canada, the United States, China and India will debate with some of the most important European authors in Bratislava and three other Slovakian cities as well as in Sarajevo and Mostar in person. Needless to say, should that not be possible, there will be special online alternatives.


The main theme, loosely connecting all events, concerns the global phenomenon of loneliness inflicted by the virus. Loneliness can be lethal itself. It devastates communities and nations in a similar way it devastates individuals. It limits our capacity to generate creative responses to our urgent challenges and threats. Our imagination is literally locked down. 


At the same time, since its outbreak in 2019, the virus has been forcing us to understand the fragility of the basic frameworks of our lives, such as institutions of democracy which, inefficient and corrupt(ed) as they may be, still provided us with a certain protection. Even more important: for the first time in history we are confronted with the fragility of the biological framework of our existence. The reasons of such threats, obviously, are rooted deep in human nature. The symptoms are known: ever-increasing inequality, ever-faster unsustainable growth. We need to involve the public in a global debate on remedies. We need to mobilise the collective imagination, to break through the limitation of the lonely individual and national perspectives.  This is the goal our project aims to contribute to.