CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND RECONCILIATION IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

Workshop 2 - Report

"In my opinion, the Dubrovnik workshop has been fully successful, not because it has brought at one table young scholars of different nationality, open to dialogue and reconciliation. But because it has put to work young scholars with different research perspectives, all of them eager for multi-perspectivity, methodologically well equipped against the traps of anachronisms, and sufficiently sound in their scientific training to accept criticism from their colleagues and from the senior scholars without feeling diminished. As for the senior scholars, they have done their job, it seems to me, without patronizing attitudes and without making any concession to the supposedly special nature of Balkan history. The Dubrovnik workshop has certainly provided a model of efficient scientific communication and transaction."

    - Prof. Marco Dogo, History Professor at the University of Trieste


City of Dubrovnik - Maritime Museum

Introduction

Several of the participants posed for a group picture at the entrance of the beautiful city of Dubrovnik.No single narrative can capture the different voices present at the Junior Scholars' Workshop in Dubrovnik in June 2001; this report, therefore, is a confluence of responses and thoughts from the participants in their own voices. Each participant gained different insights from the workshop, each from a different perspective. From the standpoint of the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe (CDRSEE), an international NGO based in Thessaloniki, the workshop was a great success because 22 scholars of Southeast European history left Dubrovnik with new ideas and thoughts, enriched by 2 days of intense and constructive discussion with newly acquainted friends and colleagues.

CDRSEE is grateful to all those who contributed to the success of the second Junior Scholars' Workshop: 15 Junior Scholars (listed below), and 8 Senior Scholars: Prof. Maria Todorova, Prof. Fikret Adanir, Prof. Iva Bicanic, Prof. Marco Dogo, Prof. Karl Kaser, Prof John Lampe, Prof. Diana Mishkova, and Prof. Peter Vodopivec.

The Junior Scholars who participated in the workshop are in the process of completing their PhD Theses. This workshop was an opportunity for the scholars to present their work, to hear and comment on 14 other research topics; it was a forum for international and intergenerational academic exchange. The 7 senior Professors present were drawn from CDRSEE's Board of Eminent Scholars, part of the Southeast European Joint History Project (www.cdsee.org).


On the boat All the participants enjoyed a boat trip to a nearby island after the workshop was finished.

Nada Alaica, Linacre College, University of Oxford
Dissertation Title: The question of national identity on the Croatian Military Frontier in the 19th century.

The CDRSEE conference in Dubrovnik was an uplifting experience for me, as I am sure it was for most of the other participants. After several years of tedious and seemingly futile research in the archives, I had lost much of my initial passion for my thesis and the energy I need to bring it to completion. However, having met other scholars who share my enthusiasm for both the study of history and South Eastern Europe has helped me to put my entire project into perspective. The realization that one's work is appreciated and is one piece among many which contributes to a better understanding of this region, can not fail to inspire. In this way I think the Dubrovnik conference has provided me with the impetus and motivation I need to carry on and complete my doctoral thesis.

Giorgos Antoniou, Department of History and Civilization, European University Institute, Florence
Dissertation Title: The Ethnic Dimension of the Greek Civil War

The ideas that came to my mind at the Dubrovnik workshop have been extremely useful to my PhD project. My research has improved greatly by adjusting other people's concepts and approaches and applying the ideas to my own work. It also made me realize that different projects could well have very similar methodological and theoretical problems and questions. From my perspective, the main aspects of the comments by senior scholars were the need to elaborate our projects in a concrete and solid way, the necessity of posing significant questions instead of spending time and energy in minor issues and, something that was mostly insinuated, the need to apply interdisciplinary methods based on a comparative point of view. In general, I found very impressive the fact that all people participating in the workshop were indeed speaking a common scientific language. This is something that proves the importance of such efforts and the necessity of building bridges between the southeast European scholars so as to avoid nationalistic perspectives that are still dominant in the region

John Ashbrook, Department of History, University of Florida, Gainsville
Dissertation Title: Politicization of Identity: Regionalism in Istrian in the 1990s

The conference in Dubrovnik was a good experience for me in that the professors offered some good advice as to how to improve my dissertation. The scholars from the region, especially Prof. Vodopivec offered excellent criticisms on the question of regional mentalities. Prof. Lampe too was helpful in suggesting some finer points on the history chapter of the dissertation. Some of the best suggestions and criticisms came from the graduate students though. With the many different perspectives each of us had, everyone was able to ask questions to stimulate discussion to improve our works in progress. The forum, though not as draconian about time as it needed to be, was generally productive. More workshops of this type should be held in the future and maybe individual scholars could receive a more complete work of a student's dissertation for a private meeting between the two in a future workshop. Also, a workshop could be arranged between beginning and experienced students to discuss how topics should be undertaken and the pitfalls associated with graduate school in a number of different universities in the US and in Southeastern Europe. The workshop was generally helpful and accomplished much in such a short period of time.

Stefan Detchev, South-West University, Department of History, Blagoevgrad
Dissertation Title: Mother of She-Bear, Russia in Bulgarian Press, Public Opinion and Popular Political Culture 1886-1894.

The Dubrovnik workshop was very fruitful experience for me. I received suggestions, advice and comments during the sessions and informal meetings concerning my thesis.

From the senior scholars, Prof. Diana Mishkova encouraged me to emphasize problems connected with social aspects of Russophile and Russophobe political cultures as well as national identity and nation - building. Prof. John Lampe approved my approach towards geographical differences in Russophile and Russophobe political cultures and their explanations. He turned my attention to the role of radical Russian intelligentsia and its influence in Bulgaria in order to explain both discourses. Prof. Fikret Adanir encouraged me to emphasize the influence coming in Bulgaria through the river Danube and the town of Rouse in order to explain Russophobe phenomenon. There were many fruitful general remarks and suggestions about historical studies I received from Professor Ivo D. Bicanic, Prof. Marco Dogo, Prof. Karl Kaser, Prof. Peter Vodopivec.

From the young scholars, my peer, Natasha Miskovic-Weiss, provoked me to think about a new chapter concerning problems I had addressed in the end of the thesis. She advised me to support with more relevant primary sources my conclusions about Russophile and Russophobe cultures at the grass-roots level and encouraged me to present more explicitly my methodology of studying public opinion in the past and my conception about public opinion in Bulgaria in the mentioned period. Giorgos Antoniou suggested that I emphasize the appropriation of Russophile discourse in the communist propaganda after 1945. Onur Yildimir advised me to clarify to what extent Russia cared about its image in Bulgaria political culture.

Rozita Dimova, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, Stanford
Dissertation Title: Negotiating Subjectivities: Arts, Aesthetics and Ethnicity in Contemporary Macedonia

The people from the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation did a great job to enable us to get to know each other, our work, and to provide a possibility to meet the senior scholars from the region as well. Meeting people from Southeast Europe was the best part of the workshop in Dubrovnik for me. I also got a lot from the comments after my presentation regarding the main arguments of my dissertation. While I've attended similar workshops in the west, this was the first opportunity for me to attend such a meeting in the region itself. The location did make a crucial difference, I must admit, since most of us who were from the region found a safe ground to discuss sensitive issues such as nationalism, minorities, histories without being subjected to a constant "critical" reminder of the troubles of this part of the world. The absence of sensationalism of the region was truly refreshing. This is not to say that there weren't attempts by some to remind us of the importance of the west (or who runs the "game"). Fortunately, however, these attempts could not diminish the great working atmosphere and socialization among the participants. The workshop should really become a regular event.

Theodora Dragostinova, Department of History, University of Florida, Gainsville
Dissertation Title: Between two Motherlands: Changing Memories of the Past within the Greek-Bulgarian Minority and Refugee Communities, 1906-1939.

The workshop in Dubrovnik was one of the most useful experiences I have had in my professional career, and the comments I received both from the senior scholars and my peers were incredibly valuable. My work focuses on the Greek minority in Bulgaria and the migration of these "Bulgarian citizens of Greek origin" to Greece in the first part of the 20th century. Rozita Dimova pointed out important theoretical issues I could consider in my future work. These ideas include a challenge to Brubaker's theory on the relationship between homeland, minority, and nationalizing state; the issue of successful and unsuccessful nationalisms; everyday form of resistance to nationalism; the gendered dimensions of nationalism; the question of truth, subjectivity, and authorial voice in the historical narrative. In addition, Onur Yildirim pointed out the need to be sensitive when using loaded terms such as "motherland," "homeland," or "repatriation." Giorgios Antoniou emphasized omissions in the historiography concerning the problem, and suggested a further investigation of nostalgia and victimization during refugee experience. Professor Adanir proposed an investigation in the role of religion in the conflict between the Bulgarian majority and the Greek minority. Professor Mishkova suggested a more detailed inscription of my research in the "Big picture" of minority and refugee experience in Bulgaria. Such an approach would also avoid the pitfalls of creating an image of "Bulgarian exceptionalism," and explain the more "tolerant" behavior of the Bulgarian State towards minorities not in terms of culture or national character, which creates stereotypes, but in terms of structural changes and political context.

Ranka Gasic, The Institute for Contemporary History, Belgrade
Dissertation Title: British and German Influence on the Belgrade Elite 1936-1941

The discussion with junior historians and senior scholars was very helpful in several ways. Firstly, I`ve got some useful suggestions about sources and publications that should be consulted. Secondly, in the field of methodology - I have realized some problems on which I could further elaborate, such as the influence of culture and education on political events, and notions of Britain and Germany in public opinion in the longer perspective. A useful suggestion concerning methodology is to focus on the definition of elite as a class (middle or upper), in the sense of defining elite either as a class or as a non-class. My attention was also brought to the history of banking in inter-war Yugoslavia, focusing my research to the period from1929 onwards, instead of that from 1936 to 1941.

The dissertations of my colleagues allowed me to learn of the current topics of historiography in neighboring countries, and gave me the opportunity to compare the developments in my field at home and abroad.

Etleva Lala, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest
Dissertation Title: Papal Policy toward South-Eastern Adriatic Coast

Taking part in a regional conference was a very interesting and fruitful experience for me. Although the presented topics covered large periods of time and many issues, which were not directly connected with my own topic, they helped me greatly in better understanding the regional background. I have now a better scope of the specifics of the region, and have got a new insight in the religious matters of this region. Through the comments of the senior and young scholars, I became better aware of the risks that the spread of religion in the Middle Ages presents for my study, but also can see more clearly the scope in which my topic fits, and the importance that such a topic has for the regional historiography. This new perspective has made me work joyfully. The nice, constructive atmosphere of the whole conference has also deleted some fears, which were obstacles for the progress of my research, so I am very grateful to all the participants of the conference for being so instructive and appreciative to each other.

Marina Liakova-Nedialkova, Center for Studies on Turkey, University of Essen
Dissertation Title: The Official Discourse of the Bulgarian Historiography concerning Turkey and the Turks

The first suggestion of the eminent scholars was to extend my analysis so as to pay attention to the overall official discourse in Bulgaria and not only to the discourse of the Bulgarian historiography concerning Turkey and the Turks.

Another point discussed was the extension of the second part of my dissertation. Because of the limited time of the presentation I wasn't able to present all details of the research in the second part. I had obviously left the impression that the negative image of Turks in the Bulgarian public was produced only through the history schoolbooks. In the second part of the analysis, the influence of folklore, literature and myths on the authors of schoolbooks and of the genesis and the spread of negative images of Turkey and Turks in the Bulgarian public have to be analyzed in more detail.

An interesting suggestion was to analyze the missing pieces of the Ottoman History in the Bulgarian schoolbooks. This means to look at topics analyzed in the Turkish schoolbooks, but not represented in the Bulgarian ones.

I appraise the workshop in Dubrovnik as a very useful one for my work. It was very motivating to meet doctoral students and eminent scholars from the region who work on similar topics and to discuss different methodological and scientific approaches. I see the opportunity to present my work to a public as very important and the criticisms as constructive.

Mila Mancheva, Comparative History, Central European University, Budapest

Dissertation Title: Nationalism and Muslim Minorities in Inter-War Bulgaria 1918-1945
 

Maja Miljkovic, The Institute for Contemporary History, Belgrade
Dissertation Title: The Serbian Elite in Vardar Macedonia, 1918-1941
Paper presented: "The city of Mostar: hidden traditions and contemporary perceptions"
 

Natasa Miskovic-Weiss, Historical Institute, University of Basel
Dissertation Title: Belgrade life worlds in the 19th century

At the Junior Scholar's Workshop in Dubrovnik, I met many peers and senior scholars working in the same field. We discussed problems specific to the region, such as the heterogeneity of Southeastern Europe, where issues inherent in the whole region still have to be studied in the local context. We discussed whether historical concepts developed in Western Europe, such as the theories on the German B-Ergertum, can be used in a Southeastern European context. One full hour was dedicated to the discussion of our own research. I was assured that I am on the right track, and an interesting exchange of ideas on the relationship between peasants and town-dwellers in the nation-states at the end of the 19th century emerged. I received concrete personal support when a senior scholar offered me his help to publish my dissertation with the publisher I was wishing for. I went home full of positive energy and with a handful of addresses of new friends. The workshop really helped me to get on, and I am thankful that I was offered the opportunity to participate.

Ines A. Murzaku, Religious Studies Department, Seton Hall University, New Jersey
Dissertation Title: The Activity and the Role of the Jesuits in the Albanian History and Culture 1841-1946

The workshop was productive and insightful. I think that CDRSEE accomplished its mission and contributed a great deal in bridge building among scholars from different nations and different generations. I realized I was not alone in my field, exploring the ecclesiastical history of Albania. I learned a great deal from my peers and their scholarly projects and the senior scholars as well. There were a lot of issues I was struggling with in this stage of my career, and the workshop clarified a lot of them. I am very grateful to the sound advice of the senior scholars: how to climb the ivory tower and be successful in an academic environment. I am clear now as to what kind of language I should use in a scholarly publication and how to keep the right balance between a specialized vocabulary and the natural/popular language. Another question I was struggling with before the Dubrovnik workshop was finding the right title for my book and what makes one title wrong for a project and another one right. I got not only feedback, but a title as well: Catholicism, Conversion and Culture in Albania. The workshop gave me a clear vision of my future project as well. I am very much looking forward participating in other CDRSEE projects.

Simona Stefanescu, Institute of Sociology, the Romanian Academy and the University of Bucharest
Dissertation Title: Mass Media Coverage of the Yugoslav Conflict (1991-1995): a Comparative Approach. Introduction to an Analytic Framework

This workshop opened to me a new way to understand the events that I am studying, namely the conflict in former Yugoslavia (1991-1995): an historical approach, a little different from my sociological one. Another way of approaching the same issue is always useful. Although the substantial (and also my favorite) part of my thesis is the comparative sociological analysis of the media coverage of the conflict, most of the comments which followed my presentation focused on the first part of my paper, regarding a sociological explanation of the crisis. Those remarks are also useful. So, I decided to review this first part of the thesis, which I had considered, until the workshop, as completed. I take into account, for example, the comments made by Prof. John Lampe. He appreciated my point of view regarding the cause-effect relationship between global and local conflicts, different from Samuel Huntington's theory, and he also gave me suggestions to develop it. Therefore, I shall try deeply to argue my approach. I also retained Prof. Peter Vodopivec's remarks about the necessity of a thoroughgoing study on the last decade of the former Yugoslav federation (1980-1991). I am sure I will find out a lot of interesting details, which will help me to better explain this bloody war. Anyway, the presented papers, as well as the comments following my presentation, opened to me new study opportunities, based on both sociological and historical ground.

Onur Yildirim, Princeton University, New Jersey; Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, Ankara
Dissertation Title: Scholars, Diplomats and Refugees: Mapping the Turco-Greek Population Exchange, 1922-1923

The workshop provided me with ample opportunity to discuss some of the conclusions of my dissertation before its final submission to the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Both eminent and junior participants of the conference posed challenging questions that prompted me to reconsider these conclusions before embarking upon writing the general conclusion chapter of my dissertation. The organization of the conference was especially conducive in creating an atmosphere in which discussion took precedence over presentation and resulted in a more dynamic exchange of ideas than what usually happens in an ordinary academic meeting where the presenter dominates the floor and the ensuing discussions generally get stuck with the polemical exchanges between participants over terms and concepts rather than ideas. The homogeneous outlook of the group (that all the participants were historians) certainly played a crucial role in this respect. That everyone shared a common language of history and a set of common concerns as to the history and historiography of the region under question, which is usually not the case with many academic meetings, led to a more efficient and beneficial discussion. Nearly two dozen questions that I received during the discussion period, which focused on the theoretical underpinnings of my research, helped me to reframe the general conclusion of my dissertation and to come up with a more orderly presentation of the findings of the three fairly long chapters that make up the body of the dissertation. The questions of certain eminent historians on my points concerning the commonalities and differences between the stances of Turkish and Greek national historiographies over the Exchange of Populations were especially noteworthy. These questions prompted me to incorporate certain political developments that took place outside the borders of these two countries which have, in fact, significantly affected the orientation of the domestic historical research on the subject. Whether the stance of the Turkish state on the Armenian question, which has become one of the popular themes of research on the international platform due to certain political developments of the 1970s, offers an explanation for the silence and indifference of Turkish national historiography over the topic of the Turco-Greek Exchange of Populations is a question that I have been thinking about since I returned from Dubrovnik. This is an issue that is difficult to accommodate at this point of my dissertation project, but will certainly become one of the principal questions to be addressed while turning my dissertation into a book. In the same vein, another challenging question is whether the Turkish refugees ever formed political pressure groups similar to their Greek counterparts during the period 1923-1935 and later. This question drew my attention to an aspect of the subject that I had addressed only to a limited extent in my dissertation. But perhaps more importantly, the question of how I reconcile the fact that the founders of the Turkish Republic were themselves of refugee background with my argument that the nascent Turkish state adopted an indifferent attitude to the problems of the refugees is an intriguing issue that I have long shunned to deal with and had to face sooner or later. All these questions and many others that I was exposed to in this intellectually stimulating and challenging atmosphere will certainly help me to shape the direction of my future research on the subject and my engagement with them will represent the imprints of the Dubrovnik Workshop in my scholarship.