Two Hundred Years on the Road: The Term “Balkan Peninsula” (1808-2008)
In 1808 the German geographer Johann August Zeune suggested one of the European peninsu-las to be named “Balkanhalbinsel”. He did this in his work “Gea. Versuch einer wissenschaftlichen Erdbeschreibung“ edited in Berlin. This term which at the beginning of the 19th century had an academic connotation only, was destined to follow an interesting course in the next two hundred years, starting probably as a neutral geographical name, going through a stigmatization and eventually turning into a symbolic crossroad sign between “Europe” and “Non-Europe”.
The bicentennial life of the term “Balkan peninsula / Balkanhalbinsel” reflects at the same time the quests, controversies and delusions characteristic of the mainstream “European history”, and the conflicts – military and ideological – affecting the region in the past. The path of the term shows how historical events could be judged and how they should not be evaluated. It also reflects the deep marks left on our peninsula by the big empires, religions and ideologies.
The Round Table organized by the Department for History of Byzantium and the Balkans is devoted to these problems. The discussions of the below mentioned thematic circles will include historians, experts in political sciences, geographers, philologists, journalists and politicians. They are intended to reach a better and more accurate understanding of elements of geo-graphical and political language such as “The Balkans” and “The Balkan Peninsula”. At the same time, the Round Table will contribute to the debate whether the term “Southeastern Europe” is a logical transformation of the peninsula’s linguistic representation at the beginning of the 21st century and whether it is necessary to give to that region a terminological connection to the “general European history”.
Thematic Circles of the Round Table
1. History of the peninsula’s names (terms, origins, authorship, context, etc.)
2. The denomination “Balkans” – use and misuse in the 19th and 20th centuries
3. “The Balkan Peninsula” or “Southeastern Europe”? A gaze into the past and a look into the future
4. “The Balkans”, “Southeastern Europe” and the contemporary media – terminological, thematic and contextual aspects
Time and Place: 11-12 December 2008 in the Central building of the University of Sofia. The participants will present papers (up to 15 min) connected to the proposed thematic framework or can be involved with short comments (up to 5 min) during the thematic discussions which are to follow each thematic panel.
The deadline for applications is 1 October 2008. Paper proposals (up to 500 words) should be sent to the following address:
Ass. Prof. Dr. Ivan Parvev
Sofia University St. Kliment Okhridski
Central building / Faculty of History
15, Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., 1504 Sofia, Bulgaria
(00359-2)9308378 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the website at http://clio.uni-sofia.bg
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