To be or not to be Balkan - cfp for Civilisations 60 (2), deadline revised
Call for Papers Date:
Call for papers
Civilisations vol. 60 (2)
Forthcoming Autumn 2011
To be or not to be Balkan
Historical episodes of a cultural area
Guest editors : Marianne Mesnil and Vintilà Mihailescu
Why inquire upon a Homo Balkanicus?
The expression brings up stereotypes well rooted in the West: the Balkans as the powder keg of Europe or Balkan Powder Keg, an expression that came along with the first Balkan wars (1912-1913) and was recycled with the new wars which lasted a whole decade (1991-1999). But calling someone or something Balkan has significantly drew the attention of intellectuals in this region, especially since the fall of the Berlin wall. Wondering about the legitimacy of the expression is thus not only a fact of the Western world (whose ignorance concerning this part of our continent is confirmed, even after the integration into the EU of some Balkan countries), but of this region itself.
A research programme announced between the two World Wars
In the short interval between the Treaties that followed the First World War (Versailles and Sèvres, 1919-1920) and the beginning of the Second World War, a short moment of comparative reflection arose within the “young” Eastern nations. It was during this period that the Romanian historian V. Papacostea initiated the expression Homo Balkanicus, thus highlighting his central interest: to define what in anthropology could be called a cultural area, founded essentially on a long common history, a life together, as one could express it today using a (a bit too) fashionable expression.
It was after 1989 that the Balkan question re-emerged in the concerned regions. But the terms are evidently updated and they are part of the generalised inflation of identity discourses that became one of the privileged objects of anthropology. Nevertheless, this identity challenge encounters the link between local and global, between particular and planetary; Europe, after having favoured “everything for economics” and grown bigger eastwards, has a hard time finding other legitimacies to build its unity. We can ask ourselves about the reason for questioning the regional unity whose historical grounds have been undermined since the end of the nineteenth century, with big “shake-ups” decided by the big powers. Without counting that, misinterpreted, this “Balkan unity” can rapidly bring the reactivation of the schism quarrel between Byzantium and Rome and give way to theories that we have seen growing under the fallacious formula “Clash of civilisations”.
Using the label Homo Balkanicus, somehow provocative and controversial because of its multiple connotations, western as well as eastern, our intention was to focus this anthropological debate around an identity downgraded by the acceleration of history witnessed in the former socialist countries. Confronted with an uncontrolled invasion of neo-liberal influences, these countries were in a state of what has been qualified, improperly, as “transition”.
We could summarise the underlying debate within this publication project along the following questions:
1. Homo Balkanicus and its history. Pax Ottomana and Balkan conflicts.
With the problems in former Yugoslavia, we have to understand the nature of a secular “living together”, that some had named pax ottomana, and how this could engender such interethnic hatred manifestations.
2. Homo Balkanicus and its reputation. Symbolic geography and power games.
How has the Balkans stigmata seen the light and how has this image of the other become an image of the self? Treating this issue could be tackled by following the destiny of this social representation, its uses and misuses within or outside the region.
3. Homo Balkanicus and its identity. Is there a Balkan cultural area?
In the middle of a profound anthropological inquiry, this question concerns the much discussed and disputed concept of cultural area and its utility in this particular case. What is the heritage of the cohabitation millennium in these regions? What does it represent nowadays? Has the last decade of political upheaval and the recent installation of a global market economy benefited from this common cultural heritage?
In this issue, we would like to group different researchers who could present a precise argumentation based on fieldwork articulated around this questioning on the existence and persistence of a Balkan unity, beyond its diversity and influences from other regions of the world.
Propositions of articles either in English or French (title + 250 words abstract) should be sent before 20 June 2010 both to the editorial board of the journal (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com) and to the guest editors of the journal issue, Marianne Mesnil (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Vintilà Mihailescu (email@example.com).
Civilisations is a peer-reviewed journal of anthropology. Published continuously since 1951, it features articles in French and English in the various fields of anthropology, without regional or time limitations. Revived in 2002 with a new editorial board and a new subtitle (Revue internationale d'anthropologie et de sciences humaines), Civilisations particularly encourage the submission of articles where anthropological approaches meet other social sciences, to better tackle processes of society making.
More information on http://civilisations.revues.org
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