CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND RECONCILIATION IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

Workshop 4 - Report

The 4th Junior Scholars' Workshop took take place from the 18th to 20th of June 2004 in Thessaloniki , Greece . A grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) made the workshop possible, as did additional support from The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Thessaloniki .

The 60 applications received this year were all from young scholars who have achieved a high level of academic excellence and are committed to their studies. Their summary theses presented many and different subjects. This year the application reached the highest number of all previous workshops (60 applications for 15 places). The call for papers was published in the website of CDRSEE but it was also distributed to all our mailing lists and to universities operating in the Balkans. Several Professors from the CDRSEE's Academic Committee graded the applications, and 15 of the best scholars were chosen to participate in the workshop.

In the IV workshop the following professors participated: Maria Todorova, Fikret Adanir, John Lampe, Marco Dogo, Karl Kaser and the Rapporteur for the Joint History Project, member of the CDRSEE Board of Directors, Mr. Costa Carras. The professors that participated are the ones who evaluated the applicants in order to select the final participants according to the usual procedure.

Each scholar prepared a 5-page paper on his or her doctoral project, including information on sources and research. The participants received the papers of all other participants well before the workshop in order to familiarise themselves with each others projects. The participants were asked to prepare a 20-minute presentation on their doctoral research, as well as a brief critique of one of the other doctoral projects. In the programme, one hour was dedicated to each doctoral project, including a presentation, a peer-critique, and an open discussion.

The procedure of the workshop proved to be very useful and effective and the Junior Scholars found the experience very valuable. Many participants were eager to have the opportunity to learn about other research going on in their field, as well as to receive extensive feed-back on their own projects. They stated that this type of contact is missing from their studies and is very valuable during this early stage of their research.

Evaluation of the Participants

After the conclusion of the workshop the CDRSEE project coordinator asked for an evaluation from the participants to be sent by e-mail. The comments were more than positive and the benefits identified in the IV Junior Scholars' Workshop were mostly interaction, discussion and cooperation.

Participants commented positively on the overall environment of the sessions, which encouraged the interaction of senior and junior scholars, and presented students with challenging views and useful insights on their research. This of course would not have been achieved without the creation of an open and relaxed atmosphere that helped participants not only to be more open to suggestions on their work, but also become active listeners so as to provide academic input to the others. Good knowledge of the subjects discussed was another factor that was commented favorably by the participants.

Other participants found the interaction between students as a great opportunity to meet with scholars of different backgrounds and different countries. This provided for more interesting discussion. The interdisciplinary nature of the workshop was another positive comment. The opportunity to be in the same room and receive guidance from established international scholars was reviewed particularly positively. Their active participation and the input they provided, in the informal setting of the event, were highly valued by all participants.

With regards to the discussion, some expressed concerns on the timeframe that individuals had to discuss their thesis and called for more adherence to, or even shortening, the 60 minutes allocated to each student. However, the participants commented on how well the workshops was organization. While some found that the timeframe and schedule left little time for extra workshop activities, all had a positive word for the organizers and their work.

What reflects best the views of the 2004 Junior Scholar participants is the following comment: “It is absolutely necessary to continue with these workshops as this is a unique chance to get comments on our projects from both peers and established scholars” (Bojan Aleksov, Central European University, Budapest).

Some of the Participants' reports

Birgul Demirtas

First of all it was a great opportunity for me to be able to present my dissertation to the 6 senior and 15 junior scholars, each one them being among the best in their chosen fields. It was a good preparation for the defence of my thesis that I intend to make in the following few months. I had already planned to include the impact of some internal problems of both Turkey and Germany on their foreign policies, but after hearing the comments of my colleagues I decided to emphasize them more. Based on contributions of some of the seniors I also decided to give more place to the internal conflicts among the German political parties.

I also experienced that the debate on the place of Turkey in world politics after the Cold War has been full of controversy. Therefore I decided to make that part clearer. My colleagues' criticisms also attracted my attention to the effect of refugee flows on the formulation of both countries' attitude toward the wars in Yugoslavia .

Prof. John Lampe's comments also made me sure that this subject is an interesting one and is really worth of making further academic studies.

Apart from the contributions of the workshop for my study, I also feel myself very lucky to be able to meet such qualified senior and junior scholars who also work on the Balkans. I hope that I will stay in contact with them and meet at least some of them in the future as well.

Naoum Kaytchev

I'm very positively impressed by the workshop. I think the format is very successful for the topics discussed  are indeed the CENTRAL preoccupation of the young scholars. The intensive and informal participation of  five highly esteemed and experienced authorities on South-East European history offers to young researchers an opportunity to grasp some  very instructive guidance, to attune to the highest standards of  scholarship and academic thought. Furthermore, the international setting of both junior and senior participants invites fruitful comparisons and relations reaching beyond local environments.

In my personal case both the thesis and the book in Bulgarian have been already produced. Yet I think the discussions in Thessaloniki would be helpful in refining my future studies on earlier, nineteen and twentieth century Serbian nation building.

As a possible suggestion for future similar events I might propose including an optional tour on some key local sites connected with modern history of Thessaloniki (for example visiting White Tower, Upper City, Ataturk's birth house, Museum of Macedonian Struggle, etc.) - this would be not just a sightseeing but a professional upgrading for the majority of the participants.

Not the least I would like to emphasize the PERFECT organization of the workshop by the CDSEE staff both before and during the event.

Bojan Aleksov

It is absolutely necessary to continue with these workshops, as this is a unique chance to get comments on our projects both from peers and established scholars. Usually our theses are checked only by our supervisors and we are seldom invited to cross-strict disciplinary or in case of history even period boundaries. Todorova, Adanir and Dogo were great and extremely useful in their comments.

The venue was great, dinners too and especially the movie you selected to show. Maybe you could dedicate more time to such common activities in the future. Like visits to some historic sights, movies, lecture from a senior scholar or something else which should be both educational and entertaining. In this way, you can bond the group, have them communicate among themselves which will later reflect on the quality of the discussions during sessions.

As for the timing I would recommend to keep strictly to the envisaged 60 minutes. This is up to moderators not to be very sentimental because the candidates are new in business and often not experienced to keep themselves within certain time frame. 60 minute is enough for having a presentation and discussion.

The 15 Junior Scholars who participated were:

  • Bojan Aleksov, Belgrade
  • Birgul Demirtas-Coskun, Izmir-Kocaeli
  • Edin Hajdarpasic, Sarajevo
  • Naoum Kaytchev, Sofia
  • Gentiana Kera, Tirana
  • Iva Kyurkchieva Philipova
  • Bojan Mitrovic
  • Irina Ognyanova Lyubomirova
  • Enriketa Papa
  • Tanja Petrovic
  • Robert Skenderovic
  • Magdalena Slavkova
  • Svircevic Miroslav
  • Ioannis Sygkelos
  • Alexander Vezenkov

The 5 Senior Scholars who participated were:

  • Fikret Adanir, Chair of the Academic Committee as of June 2004 (Ruhr University-Bochum)
  • John Lampe (University of Maryland)
  • Karl Kaser (University of Graz)
  • Marco Dogo (University of Trieste)
  • Maria Todorova, Founded Chair of the Academic Committee since 1998 (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

The CDRSEE Staff Members who participated were:

  • Mr. Costa Carras, Rapporteur of the Board of Directors
  • Ms. Sheila Cannon, Director of Programmes
  • Ms. Maria Mylona, Project Coordinator

Photos

From left to right: junior scholar Edin Hajdarpasic from Sarajevo and senior scholars, Prof. Fikret Adanir and Prof. Maria Todorova

The participants during a session

From left to right: Prof. Marco Dogo, Prof. Fikret Adanir , Prof. Maria Todorova, Prof. John Lampe

Junior scholars discussing with the senior scholars during a coffee break