While the political Europeanization of most of the Western Balkans remains uncertain, its financial dimension already structures both materially and socially the daily lives of almost every household in the region. European banks have become dominant in Bosnia and Herzegovina as in many other Southeastern European (SEE) countries at a time when economic transformations have caused citizens to struggle with credit and debt. Although this has assured households a wider access to credit, at the same time it has increased their vulnerability to the Eurozone’s financial instabilities and their exposure to speculative dynamics carried out by banks outside of the EU regulative framework.
When the mayor of Skopje announced a highly comprehensive urban project called “Skopje 2014,” hardly anyone in North Macedonia, except for then Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, believed that the undertaking would be implemented. However, over 25 new neoclassical and baroque objects and 150 sculptures and monuments have been constructed in less than five years.
In the most recent case of Balkan “archive fever,” Croatian Parliament discussed whether or not to unseal the archives as a step towards “overcoming the national divide.” Aside from being a populist move, the underlying assumption is clear: archival records are transparent, mirroring the truth and reality. Around the same time, another discussion of Bosnian post-WWII archives took place, in which Max Bergholz shared his experience in navigating archives (and basements) in search for highly sensitive material. Between lustration and politicized, bureaucratized, or outright neglected archival practices, however, there is little or no discussion on what archives mean for historians and public, how they change, and what narratives they tell.
Analyses of the megalomaniac remake of Skopje, also called Antiquisation, have been both frequent and trenchant in their criticism, but a similar attention has rarely been paid to the on-going reconstruction of the neighbouring Albania. Not only before elections as right now – though construction companies make huge profits in the pre-electoral period – Albanian urban landscape has been undergoing dramatic changes in the past decade. But my recent trip to Albania made me wonder – what are these new façades hiding
In the wake of the integration of ten Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries into the European Union (EU), EU enlargement was hailed as the most successful tool for external democracy promotion (Dimitrova and Pridham 2004; Schimmelfennig and Scholtz 2008; Vachudova 2005). As long as the expected reward was sufficiently attractive, the domestic political costs for adaptation low, and the membership promise credible, it was expected that the perspective of enlargement coupled with EU conditionality would readily result in democratic change.
The interest on forced migration has visibly grown with the so-called “long summer of migration” in 2015, which represented an unprecedented phenomenon for the Yugoslav successor states, located along one of the main refugee paths – the Western Balkan route. While the growing influx of people fleeing the Middle East region brought about a rise in solidarity initiatives among the civil society, in academia refugee-related research rose sharply.
In the last two decades, research on peace and conflict has undergone its ‘local turn’. The global conflict environment changed rapidly after the end of the Cold War as traditional inter-state conflicts vanished, while the occurrence and intensity of intra-state conflicts rapidly increased. Many scholars, both from the quantitative and the qualitative camp, have responded to the changing nature of violent conflict by shifting their focus from the once dominant state-level towards the largely understudied local-level.
Any student that has embarked upon fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina has probably faced the question of how to reconcile the objectives of his or her research project and the expectations and needs of his or her respondents. Fieldwork in Bosnia is not only challenging due to the dissonance of opinions depending on which ethno-national side you talk to, but also because the war trauma and the tortuous post-war development have left behind a disillusioned and disengaged people who have become suspicious of foreigners
by Florian Bieber 15.12.2015 Mapmaking is well known as being not only the handmaiden of exploration, but also of colonialism and establishing and reinforcing political claims, as already Benedict Anderson showed in Imagined Communities. Similarly, map making and its congenial twin census taking produce claims to territories, well documented in the Balkans in the case... Continue Reading →