Opening speech – 4th ESTIDIA conference – 29 September 2017

Prof. Cornelia Ilie

Opening speech – 4th ESTIDIA conference – 29 September 2017

65 Room, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Faculty of Philosophy

Cornelia Ilie

As President of ESTIDIA, I feel great pleasure and a special privilege to join in the opening address at the 4th ESTIDIA conference at Sofia University. Many thanks are due to the leadership of the university and especially to the Rector and the Vice-Rector– Prof. Maria Stoicheva, the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy – prof. Dimitar Denkov and Vice-Dean prof. Olia Harizanova, and last but not least to Local organiser from the Faculty of Philosophy and president of the Institute of Rhetoric and Communications – prof. Ivanka Mavrodieva, holder of a 2nd mandate as member of the Executive Board of the Rhetoric Society of Europe Together of her team of enthusiastic collaborators, both professors and PhD students, she has successfully masterminded the local coordination of this excellently organized conference.

I am delighted to see here today so many old friends and colleagues, as well as new colleagues that I look forward to get acquainted with.

The venue for this event – the city of Sofia – was not chosen haphazardly. Its very name, which means ‘wisdom’ in Greek, resonates perfectly with and is ideally suited for an international conference like ours which focuses on linguistic, philosophical, rhetorical, sociological and psychological approaches to the art and technique of dialogues without borders with a focus on strategies of interpersonal and inter-group communication.

As you know, Sofia is the birthplace of the Bulgarian-born French philosopher and historian Tzvetan Todorov, an internationally acknowledged champion of humanist values, who passed away earlier this year. But his outstanding scholarly legacy as one of the foremost contemporary European literary and cultural theorists, and a top representative of French structuralism, will continue to enlighten and inspire us. He was a product of many cultures and widely celebrated as one of the world’s leading humanist philosophers. His most important works have been translated into over twenty-five languages and in this connection, here is one of his quotes that I cherish dearly:

Every individual is multicultural; cultures are not monolithic islands but criss-crossed alluvial plains. Individual identity stems from the encounter of multiple collective identities within one and the same person; each of our various affiliations contributes to the formation of the unique creature that we are.”

― Tzvetan Todorov

The nature and possibility of the dialogue was always for Tzvetan Todorov a central question to address, since he was whole-heartedly committed to the spirit of the dialogue. He wrote books about Bakhtin’s dialogical principle, and Rousseau’s dialogues, among others. He used to say: “If more people understood the nature of the dialogue, there would be fewer problems in the world.”

The University of Sofia is, among others, the graduation university of Julia Kristeva, a Bulgarian-born French psychoanalyst, critic, novelist, and educator, best known for her writings in structuralist linguistics, psychoanalysis, semiotics, and philosophical feminism. And as it happens, one of her well-known quotes echoes one of the major topics to be explored and discussed at our conference:

Being a foreigner is a matter of choice. It is a difficult choice that allows you to think about others, which is the only way to feel free – I do not belong to a certain place and that fact makes me a free person.”

― Julia Kristeva

To conclude, on behalf of ESTIDIA I would like to express once again our full gratitude to our hosts at Sofia University for the tremendous organizational work and sustained support they have provided to ensure all the prerequisites for a smooth and effective running of our conference.

To all participants, I wish you a warm welcome to the 4th ESTIDIA conference, which takes organizational excellence and scholarly pursuit to a higher level!

Have an interesting, stimulating and rewarding conference!