It was truly a pleasure to participate in the 2019 CHCI-Mellon Crises of Democracy Global Humanities Institute in Dubrovnik. We were a mix of capable people coming from various locations, bringing with us a variety of individual experiences, societal issues and theoretical/empirical perspectives. This type of setting brings with itself the risk of creating a cacophony with everyone talking past each other. However, this was not the case, since it was immediately clear that we are united by our, both personally and academically, focus on and fear from non-democratic tendencies. These tendencies are globally omnipresent and are especially exemplified within societies that went or are going through processes of cultural trauma. It was at the same time both comforting and sad to hear similar struggles going on around the world.
As participants, we heard talks on definitions and modern evolutions of democracy, cults of personalities, religious intolerance, and institutions’ roles in violence etc. We participated in skill and method sessions which helped us think about the ways that we can develop tools for studying a variety of phenomena. These were not ex-cathedra talks, discussions were stimulating, and there were no awkward silences after them; usually we went overtime and continued discussions with coffee and food.
Finally, it’s important to note that the focus of the summer school was not purely academic; the discussions contained a leit motif on ways of acting and creating practices for improving the state of democracy. As an ECR, I enjoyed talking about my work and getting relevant feedback as well as support for it. I found inspiration from topics and talks that I didn’t expect before coming to Dubrovnik. Unfortunately, due to family issues I had to leave before the field trip, but I can only imagine my already extremely positive experiences would have been improved if I stayed.
Kosta Bovan is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb. He teaches political behaviour, methodology, and academic writing. His area of research is a combination of political behaviour on one side and cultural trauma on the other. Bovan studies various aspects of political thinking and behaviour, while keeping in mind the context within which that thinking and behaviour are taking place; a context which includes collective identities, past experiences, and most strikingly, cultural traumas. Concerning cultural trauma, he was a part of the SPECTRESS project and have done fieldwork studies on trauma in the city of Dubrovnik and trauma concerning the Srebrenica genocide. Bovan has focused on the relationship between individual and collective trauma, and the way that psychotherapy can help us to think about the level of collective trauma.