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11th annual Bronisław Geremek lecture: The Borders of the West

Wednesday 12 May 2021

On 12 May, Dutch writer and journalist Ian Buruma will be a speaker at the 11th annual Bronisław Geremek lecture.


14:30 Digital ‘walk in’, opening of the online session; event starts at 15.00h

15:00 Words of welcome by prof. Rick Lawson, Leiden Law School, Ms. Anita van den Ende, Vice Minister for European Affairs of the Netherlands, and H.E. Mr. Konrad Szymański, Polish Minister for European Affairs

15:20 Geremek Lecture by prof. Ian Buruma

15:50 Panel discussion, moderated by prof. Rick Lawson, with prof. Ian Buruma, Ms. Anita van den Ende and Mr. Konrad Szymański

16:15 Concluding remarks


Please register here before Monday 10 May, 18:00 hrs. Once registered you will receive a link to the online session on Tuesday 11 May. See here for more information and the registration link.

About the Bronisław Geremek lectures

Prof. Buruma’s lecture forms the 11th edition of a series of lectures named after the former Polish Foreign Minister, Bronisław Geremek. In the late 1980s Professor Geremek played a crucial role in the negotiations between members of the Solidarity movement and the communist authorities. These negotiations led to the free parliamentary elections of 1989. As Minister of Foreign Affairs Professor Geremek was responsible for the EU entry negotiations as well as Poland’s membership of NATO. In 2004 he was elected as a member of European Parliament. Professor Geremek taught at various universities and published many works on European history. In 2009 the Dutch and Polish Ministers of Foreign Affairs took the joint initiative to launch an annual lecture series to honour Professor Geremek’s political and academic work.

About the speaker

Dr Ian Buruma, a Dutch writer and editor who lives and works in the United States, is a professor at Bard College, New York. He studied Chinese literature and History at Leiden University as well as Japanese cinema at the College of Art (Nichidai Geijutsu Gakko) of the Nihon University (Tokyo, Japan). He would later return to Leiden to deliver the Huizinga Lecture (2000, “Neo-romanticism of writers in exile") and the Cleveringa lecture (2008, “A matter of decency”).

Prof. Buruma is a prolific author; his books include The Wages of Guilt – Memories of War in Germany and in Japan (1994), Year Zero – A History of 1945 (2013), Murder in Amsterdam – The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance (2006, winner of The Los Angeles Times Book Prize for the Best Current Interest Book) and The Churchill Complex – The Rise and Fall of the Special Relationship and the End of the Anglo-American Order (2020). Prof. Buruma was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Groningen (2004) as well as the Erasmus Prize (2008). Foreign Policy ranked him among the 100 top global thinkers. 

About his upcoming lecture, prof. Buruma wrote: “What do we mean when we speak of the West? Is it a geographical concept, a cultural (Christian?) one, or is it political (liberalism, democracy, etcetera)? I will discuss the trans-Atlantic bonds of the West, as well as the current tensions between the western democracies and some of the post-Communist states. In my own definition of the West I shall take my cue from the Anglo/Austrian philosopher Aurel Kolnai, whose book about fascism and National Socialism in the 1930s was entitled: War Against the West”.

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