CENTRAL EUROPEAN STEERING COMMITTEE FOR CANADIAN STUDIES

 

Fifth meeting of the CESCCS

Bucharest, Romania

26 October 2001

 

Report

 

Participants

 

Don Sparling (the Czech Republic) [DS]

Aleksander Kustec (Slovenia) [AK]

Agniezska Rzepa (Poland) [AR]

Katalin Kurtosi (Hungary) [KK]

Ljiljana Matic (Yugoslavia) [LM]

Monica Bottez (Romania) [MB]

 

Absent – Maria Huttova (Slovakia)

 

Guests

 

Jean Labrie [JL] – DFAIT

 

A. Morning session

 

1. Opening

 

The meeting, held at the Law Faculty of  theUniversity of Bucharest, opened at 9:15.

 

2 Adoption of the agenda

 

The agenda was adopted as presented.

 

3. Reports on the Grainau and Bratislava meetings

 

The reports on the Steering Committee meeting in Grainau on 16 February and the special meeting of the Steering Committee in Bratislava on 19 May were approved as presented.

 

4. Financial report

 

DS presented three separate financial reports: i) the financial report for the fiscal year 2000/2001; ii) the budget proposal for the fiscal year 2001/2002; iii) the report on the current balance to 23 October 2001. (These are included as Appendixes 1-3)

 

i) The financial report for the fiscal year 2000/2001 had been submitted as part of the request for funding in 2001/2002. The balance remaining in the account was earmarked for publication of the first issue of the Central European Journal of Canadian Studes (CEJCS).

 

ii) The original budget proposal for the fiscal year 2001/2002 had been higher; Ottawa had, however, asked for it to be reduced. A decision had to be taken very quickly on what to reduce or cut – otherwise the funds would not have arrived before the Bucharest conference. The original budget proposal had included provision for funds to enable the Steering Committee members to spend an extra night in Grainau (as in 2001) so as to be able to meet all day on the Friday before the GKS conference began. It was suggested by Ottawa that the Steering Committee members could meet elsewhere instead – for example, at the mini-conference being held in Budapest just after the Grainau meeting to mark the opening of a new Canadian Studies Centre there. DS had argued that this did not seem to be a good solution. First, since the majority of Central Europeans at Grainau are relatively new to Canadian Studies (and in any case at Grainau for the first time), this enables members of the committee (as people who already know many of the German and foreign Canadianists there) to help initiate them into the wider circle of Canadianists. Second, at Grainau there is the opportunity to discuss important issues together with people from DFAIT and the embassies in the region, something not possible elsewhere. Finally, and perhaps most important, attendance at Grainau enables the committee to draw on the vast resources of the GKS, especially in the form of arranging lecture tours, and to meet Canadianists from other countries who are also willing to initiate links with Central Europe.

 

Because of the need for speedy action, DS decided that the only solution was to cut the provision for the extra night in Grainau. He would ask Steering Committee members to arrive at Grainau as early as possible on the Friday, travelling overnight if necessary, and try to start the meeting by 11:00 a.m.. With very great discipline, and the presentation of some material in written form, he hoped it would be possible to get through at least most of the agenda by the time the GKS conference started; if this proved impossible, the Steering Committee could meet at some later point in the conference to complete its business. The resubmitted budget, reduced to the $17,000 asked by Ottawa, had been approved.

 

Several members of the Steering Committee said that though they agreed with DS’s decision to maintain Grainau as the venue for the next Steering Committee meeting, they felt that travelling overnight and then heading straight into a meeting with little sleep would certainly not result in an efficient session. Moreover, if one of the points on the agenda in Grainau might well be discussion of a constitution for a new Central European Canadian Studies association, the Steering Committee would need a great deal of time; what was available (if the meeting began later in the morning) would certainly not suffice. They suggested this point should be discussed with Jean Labrie when he joined the meeting later in the morning (see 7.iii below).

 

AK asked why there was no item in the budget for the second issue of the CEJCS. DS explained that as it would actually be printed in the 2002/2003 fiscal year, he would be including this item in the budget for that year.

 

It was suggested that, in line with standard procedure, a calculation of the members’ time should be included (with equal sums for income and expenditure) in the budget proposal. This would serve as a reminder of the amount of work put into the network by the Steering Committee members. DS agreed to do this in the 2002/2003 budget proposal.

 

iii) Steering Committee members asked about the rather large size of the balance as of 23 October 2001. DS explained that this was misleading, since there were a number of imminent expenditures that would reduce it considerably. These included the printing costs of the Proceedings of the Brno conference and the inaugural issue of the CEJCS (both of which were ready and would be distributed to the Bucharest conference participants, but for which he had not yet received the invoices) and the postage costs for mailing the two publications to those who would not be in Bucharest, as well as the cost of the Steering Committee meeting in Bucharest itself.

 

5. Central European Canadian Studies Secretariat, Brno

 

i) Initiatives

 

a)      DS reported that there had been some response to his efforts to increase use of the CS facilities in Brno:  a student from Debrecen had spent several days there in March doing research for her MA, and two young teachers from Bratislava (Slovakia) and Liberec (norther Bohemia) had come to Brno to work in the library and gather material for courses. However, he had expected a wider response to this and to the offer to lend or photocopy material from the extensive library in Brno. The Steering Committee suggested that a notice should once again be posted on the Network Webpage/sent out on the listserve with information on what was available. DS said he would speak to the Secretariat student assistant, Petr Vurm, about this.

b)      In connection with the Network WebpageDS pointed out that access was now easier, with the direct www.cecanstud.cz address. AK agreed, though suggesting that we should contact the Google and Yahoo search engines, since when one made a search for “Central Europe” and “Canadian Studies”  the Network was not prominent in the lists produced. DS promised to have Petr Vurm look into this.

c)      It was felt that visitors to the region were still not given the kind of exposure that would best make use of their presence. DS agreed to send out a request to Canadianists in the region asking them to share this information: if the Secretariat in Brno were informed of the presence of visiting Canadianists in the region and whether they were willing to travel beyond the universities to which they had promised to come, it could spread this information to the region as a whole, and in this way perhaps provide more linkups.

d)      It was suggested that more prominence should be given to information about library resources available in the region, with links provided on the Webpage. DS said he would see to this.

 

ii) Class-set grants

 

In the second round of class set grants, the successful applicants were the following:

-          Czech Republic:  Masaryk University, Brno (Francophone literature)

-          Hungary:  Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest (Literature); University of Debrecen (English literature, multiculturalism and regionalism)

-          Poland: Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan (English literature); Lodz University (English literature); Jagiellonian University, Krakow (History and multiculturalism)

-          Romania: University of Bucharest (Francophone literature; Media and communications)

-          Slovenia: University of Maribor (English literature)

-          Yugoslavia: University of Nis (Francophone literature)

 

DS reported that this second round of the class-set grant programme had gone more smoothly than the first. Petr Vurm had prepared a form for all applicants to use that could be filled in electronically. As a result, all the applications had a similar format and it was easier to compare them. The quality of the applications had also improved; especially encouraging were applications from countries or areas that been less well represented in the first round. Nancy Hector at DFAIT had expressed her satisfaction with the results.

 

It was suggested that there was still some lack of clarity as to the relationship between class-set grants and Library Support Programme grants. DS replied that the rule had been established that a Canadian Studies Centre (or individual university) was eligible for one class-set grant OR one Library Support Programme grant per year. If there was a conflict (i.e. if both were desired) it was up to the Canadian Studies Centre/university to decide which should be given priority.  DS said that next year, when the announcement concerning class-set grants was sent out, this would be made more explicit, and the need for coordination within institutions would be stressed.

 

iii) Journals from French and British CS Associations

 

The journals from the French association had been received in the various countries; DS had expressed the thanks of the Network to Jean-Michel Lacroix, President of the French Association. There were still problems with the British Association journals. DS would check this out.

 

6. CS developments in Central Europe

 

The developments in Central Europe were presented in the form of country reports, prepared beforehand and handed out to the Steering Committee members. The participants merely highlighted some of the main points in their reports. These country reports are included here as Appendixes 4-9.

 

7. Publications

 

i) The Proceedings of the Brno conference

 

DS distributed  copies of the Proceedings of the Brno conference, with apologies for the long delay in producing the work. It would be distributed to participants in the Bucharest conference and mailed to all CE Canadianists, others who had attended the conference in Brno, European associations, and people at DFAIT and the ICCS.

 

ii) CE journal

 

Copies of the first issue of the Central European Journal of Canadian Studies were also passed out. The journal had been edited by AK in Ljubljana and printed in Brno, with the basic cover design coming from Romania (though given its final form in Brno).  Everyone expressed pleasure at the success of this initiative. AK, as editor-in-chief, was thanked for his commitment to the project, which had seen it through to completion.

 

Since AK was stepping down as editor-in-chief (concomitant with his withdrawal from the academic community), there was a discussion as to future policy vis-à-vis the journal. After a lively discussion, Steering Committee members agreed that:

 

a)      there would be a rotating editorship (though this did not imply that every issue would have a new editor-in-chief);

b)      membership on the editorial board would be up to the editor-in-chief;

c)      the Network should do more to promote the journal, both in terms of input (articles by a wider variety of contributors and a wider range of topics) and influence (a greater awareness of the journal in the international community of Canadianists);

d)      evaluation of contributions should be by the editorial board, with the help of the advisory board and other individual Canadianists when needed;

e)      the contributions should reflect a balance of disciplines and languages (French and English), and be predominantly from the academic milieu;

f)       the new editor-in-chief of the journal would be Katalin Kurtosi.

 

iii) The Proceedings of the Bucharest conference

 

The question of ways and means of publishing papers from the Bucharest conference was discussed. No funding provision had been made for this. One suggestion was to use the next issue of the CEJCS for this purpose.  However, most members of the Steering Committee felt this was not a very satisfactory solution, since there had already been a call for papers for the second issue of the journal.

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At this point Jean Labrie joined the meeting. After some further discussion of this issue, JL suggested that DS should make a request to Marie-Laure de Chantal for a supplementary grant to cover the cost of publication. If there is still some money in the 2001/2002 Academic Relations budget, the money could be given now; if not, then in the following fiscal year. This would mean that the second issue of the CEJCS would be devoted to articles submitted from Canadianists in the region, as originally planned. KK was asked to proceed with the choice of an editorial board and the preparation of the second issue of the CEJCS accordingly.

 

JL went on to speak about the question of a CS association in the CE region, saying that, as a general rule, the existence of formally constituted associations makes things easier for DFAIT – it is clear who the partners are, and such organizations thus serve as focal points for activities. From the point of view of DFAIT, Central Europe – administratively speaking – is a region and is treated as a whole; it is more convenient to deal with the Canadianists in the region as a group, since they are at a similar stage of development and share the same or very similar needs. That said, however, he stressed that DFAIT has no preference as to how Canadianists in various countries or in the region as a whole wish to organize, whether in national associations, a regional association, or a combination of the two models. He also reminded the Steering Committee members of the clear set of criteria for full membership in the ICCS, saying that at the present time there seemed to be no association with the critical mass to join the ICCS in this capacity. Associate membership, of course, is another thing, though associate members cannot share in ICCS programmes (which are restricted to full members), do not have a vote at the annual ICCS Executive Council meetings, and do not have their attendance at these meetings paid for.

 

KK asked JL to clarify for the Steering Committee members the difference in Canadianists’ relationship to the ICCS and their relationship to DFAIT. JL replied that DFAIT relates to Canadianists – via the local Canadian embassies – as individuals, either on their own or as part of CS Centres. The ICCS, on the other hand, relates to Canadianists not as individuals but as members of groups, of associations bringing together the individual Canadianists on a national or regional basis. Or, reversing the perspective, individual Canadianists have access, through the local Canadian embassies, to DFAIT and its programmes, but only associations have access to the ICCS and the programmes it supports financially. As far as associations are concerned, there are three criteria for recognition: representativity; the quality of the work done by the members of the association and the association as a whole; and recognition of the association’s efforts in the broader international community of Canadianists. He stressed that, as far as CE was coNcerned, there was a definite need for a representative voice (or representative voices) with regard to DFAIT and the ICCS. This is a two-way phenomenon: the CE Canadianists need to be able to speak to Ottawa, and Ottawa needs somewhere/something it can turn to when it wants its voice to be heard.

 

Moving on to another topic, the Steering Committee pointed out to JL the difficulty the group would have in squeezing all its business into the meeting at Grainau (see 4.ii above). JL agreed, and suggested that DS check how much extra would be needed by the Steering Committee to stay the extra night at Grainau and have the full day on Friday for its meeting, and let him know; he would see what could be done.

 

 

[After JL left, the meeting broke for lunch at 1:15 p.m.]

 

B. Afternoon session

 

[The meeting reconvened at 2:15 p.m., continuing with its original order of business.]

 

8. Conferences

 

i) Report on CS conference in Ottawa, 15-16 October 2001

 

DS spoke briefly about the conference held in Ottawa to mark the 25th anniversary of Canadian government support for CS, which he had attended as representative of the Steering Committee. He felt it had been useful in raising awareness in government circles of the extent and importance of CS worldwide. Eva Martonyi (Piliscsaba, Hungary), the other Canadianist from CE who had been chosen by DFAIT to attend the event, had made a good presentation in the panel she was in; DS had been asked to make a response from the audience after the panel members had spoken, and had stressed the importance of continuing government support, and how much value for money the investment in CS represented.

 

ii) Participation in Grainau, February 2002

 

As in recent years, funding was available for 20 places at the annual conference of the Association for Canadian Studies in the German-speaking Countries (GKS) at Grainau, which will be taking place on 15-17 February 2002. The same procedure as in the past two years will be used to select the participants - that is, the Steering Committee (and national associations where they exist) will make the choice in conjunction with iNput from the local Canadian embassies. DS informed the Steering Committee members that he had heard some criticism of the way in which this had been done in the past – that some CE Canadianists were unaware of the exact procedure, and felt it lacked transparency. This year, therefore, he proposed to send out an official announcement to all the CE Canadianists on the Network listserve, explaining precisely how the choice would be made and what they should do if they wished to apply. In other words, the actual process would be the same as in the previous two years, but everyone would be made aware of what this process was like. DS also informed the Steering Committee members that he had spoken to Elke Nowak, the President of the GKS, and she had confirmed that the wish of the GKS was, as far as this was possible, for new people to be chosen – i.e. Canadianists who had not been to Grainau before. In some exceptional cases, however, if there was a good reason, a country might suggest sending someone who had been there in the past. DS said he would word the announcement accordingly.

 

Since there is now no representative from Slovenia on the Steering Committee (AK having resigned, and the SC feeling that no new member should be appointed until it is clear how the structure of CE CS will develop), membership on the Steering Committee has been reduced to six. This means that, in addition to these people, fourteen other CE Canadianists can go to Grainau. The Steering Committee decided to allot the positions as follows: Poland – 3; Czech Republic and Slovakia – 1; Hungary – 3; Slovenia – 1; Romania – 3; Yugoslavia – 3.

 

Note: Since the Steering Committee meeting, it has proved necessary to clarify and adjust these numbers slightly. First, DS was asked by the Canadian Embassy in Zagreb whether one participant from Croatia could be sent to Grainau. Since the Canadian Embassy in Croatia has received a grant from DFAIT intended to help start up CS there, with specific people being involved, and one of them was the individual suggested by the embassy for participation in Grainau, DS felt that this proposal should be welcomed. Moreover, when the decision on quotas was made in Bucharest, and he had agreed to only one person from the Czech Republic and Slovakia so that three could go from Yugoslavia (instead of only two), he had done this thinking more of the Yugoslav region (in the sense of the “ex-Yugoslavia”), since in recent years there had been interest in CS expressed by people in the present Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Macedonia and so on. For this reason, he felt it was right to assign one of the three “Yugoslav” places at Grainau to Croatia, and informed the Steering Committee members accordingly.

 

In the second place, all the Steering Committee members in Bucharest were at fault in forgetting about Bulgaria. In this case, DS felt that should there prove to be a worthy candidate for Grainau from Bulgaria, s/he should be given one of the three Romanian places (since it is the Canadian Embassy in Bucharest that is reponsible for Bulgaria). He suggested this in an e-mail to MB and Elena Filipoiu (Canadian Embassy, Bucharest), who both agreed.

 

iii) Conference in Debrecen, October 2002

 

DS reported that he had received a memorandum from Peter Szaffko of the University of Debrecen concerning a meeting of Hungarian Canadianists held there on 27-28 September (see Appendix 10). This included information about an international conference of Canadianists that was to take place there in October 2002. This was being planned on a very grand scale (200-250 participants). At this point neither he nor KK (who had been at the meeting) had any details about the event; more information would hopefully be available by the time of the Steering Committee meeting in Grainau.

The memorandum also stated that the participants at the meeting supported the idea of the conference being held in conjunction with the European Graduate Seminar for Graduate Students in Canadian Studies. DS told the Steering Committee that the European Network for Canadian Studies (ENCS) had agreed at its meeting in Paris in May 2001 to have the event held in Debrecen, but that it saw problems if it was linked up with the larger conference. The ENCS has always envisaged the graduate seminar as an event that should highlight and focus attention on students, as a key component of Canadian Studies in Europe, and for this reason has kept it apart from other events. The next meeting of the ENCS, in December, would return to this issue and make a final decision.

 

iv) 3rd International Conference of Central European Canadianists

 

AR conveyed the offer of the Association of Polish Canadianists to host the 3rd International Conference of Central European Canadianists in Krakow in the spring of 2004.  The Steering Committee agreed to accept this proposal. DS said that he assumed this would in some way coincide with the triennial general meeting of the Polish Association, and asked AR how the Polish Canadianists envisaged joining the two events. AR replied that this had not yet been worked out in detail, but that no great problems were anticipated.

 

9. CE Canadian Studies Association

 

DS reminded the Steering Committee that the question of forming a CE Canadian Studies Association would be discussed at a special session of the conference on Sunday morning. This had been rescheduled so as to allow the maximum number of participants to attend. He felt that all the information needed for the discussion was included in the letter he had sent out on the CE CS Network listserve to all Canadianists in the region. The consensus of the Steering Committee was that it was desirable to form such an organization, but that DS – who would lead the discussion at the conference session – should leave this view unexpressed. In this way, the participants would be able to express their ideas freely, with no sense that they were being prompted to make one particular decision.

 

Note: A report on this session at the Bucharest conference is included as Appendix 11.

 

10. Next meeting of the Steering Committee

 

The next meeting of the Steering Committee was set for Grainau. DS said he would report on the success of the request for a supplementary grant, which would enable the committee to arrive on Thursday 14 February and meet all day on Friday 15 February.

 

Note: After subsequent correspondence with JL and Marie-Laure de Chantal this grant was approved.

 

11. Closing

 

DS thanked MB for organizing the meeting, and asked her to convey the thanks of the Steering Committee to the Law  Faculty authorities and the university Rector.  The meeting came to an end at 4:15.