Changing the paradigm – students from Zagreb organize an international congress for students

VII International Congress of Art History Students (ICAH), Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb, 14.-16. November 2018. © Viktorija Varga, Dunja Vincetić, Silvija Zaplatić, Daria Granić, George.

Sarajevo, 28 November 2018. After the seminar on destruction of cultural heritage with future officers of the German Federal Forces in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Mostar I continued to Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. For the seventh time already students of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Zagreb – the Filozofski Fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu – organized an International Congress of Art History Students, the ICAH.

I was invited to hold a lecture on culture and conflict – a particular honor for me since I feel connected to the region in more than one sense. Especially the fate of the youth is near and dear to me. When I was invited to ICAH for the first time in 2013 I was so excited by the project that I wrote a long article for one of the Newspapers of my hometown Dresden about it. In a region which was known to most of the Europeans for four gory wars in the nineteen nineties, a region I was deployed to as a soldier in 1999 a bunch of mainly female students could organize an international congress for art history students with participants from Serbia and Bosnia – something which seems utterly inconceivable for the parents of these young intellectuals even today. We found a way of keeping in touch with the result that since 2013 a small group of art history students from the University of Dresden regularly participates in ICAH in Zagreb.

The congress is growing year by year in quantity and quality. This time there were students participating from Serbia, Ireland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Italy, Hungary, Germany and even Brazil. Three days of good thinking and drinking, well prepared lectures and – most important – an atmosphere of openness, of friendship most convenient to ease a conflict ridden mind.

Once more I had to realize that obviously the young generation is able to find ways to overcome prejudice and division – a lesson a good part of my generation is dearly in need of. If one is looking for an Europe that means more than economy and the rules of the market one can find it in this tiny congress organized by a handful of students from Zagreb; another argument for the urgent need of a generation change.

Filled up to the brim with good emotions I left Zagreb after five days to my hermitage in Sarajevo, provided with enough energy for another year of conflict and culture.