[balkans] Review of Balkanologie
- HABSBURG Reviews 1999/15 July 21, 1999
A View of the Balkans from Paris
Balkanologie. Poigny-la-Foret, France: Homo Balkanicus, 1997- .
Semiannual. 120 FF/yr. (subscribers in France); 140 FF/yr. (subscribers in
EU countries); 160 FF/yr. (subscribers in other countries); 200 FF/yr.
(institutions). ISSN 1279-7952.
Reviewed for HABSBURG by Steven Sowards <sowards@...>, Michigan
"Balkanologie" (ISSN 1279-7952) is a recent addition to the scholarly
journal literature of southeastern Europe, published in France since 1997.
While not limiting itself to historical subjects, the content includes
historical writing, and historians are prominent among the names on the
editorial board. _Balkanologie_ has a substantial Web site at
http://www.chez.com/balkanologie/ where it describes itself as "a journal
of Balkan studies in Human and Social Sciences which covers the period
from the Middle Ages to today. Its orientation is pluridisciplinary and
its aim is to contribute to a better understanding of the contemporary
The publishers also aspire to complement the functions of a traditional
print journal through use of the Internet to promote wide exchange of
ideas and information among academics, policy makers and students. In
their view, such a "network will improve mutual knowledge regarding the
different research centres on the scientific works being done there. It
will contribute to the development and promotion of studies on Balkan
Europe ... [and] ... to encourage the development of Balkan studies, ...
it will focus its attention particularly on the work of young
researchers..." While the board of editors and contributing authors
include established scholars, early issues of the journal showcase work by
doctoral students in keeping with this stated purpose, as well as
submissions by Balkan political insiders and scholars from American,
French, British and Balkan universities.
In each issue, readers will find between five and seven articles ranging
in length from fifteen to twenty-five pages, a small number of book
reviews or review essays, and occasional special features, such as an
editorial on the Kosovo crisis or a report on recent Serbian legislation
curbing university freedoms in the wake of the student-led anti-Milosevic
activism of 1996-97. When opportunity permits, two or three articles have
been grouped thematically under headings such as "Effets de la transition
postcommuniste." Most of the content is in French, with a few articles in
English, and abstracts appear in both of these languages.
While only four issues have appeared in print to date, access to the
journal is gradually increasing. For example, in March 1999, about half a
dozen North American libraries were reporting subscriptions via OCLC. The
table of contents for each issue appears on the _Balkanologie_ Web page,
and the full text of Vol. I, No. 2 recently has been posted at
http://www.chez.com/balkanologie/balkanologie2.htm, offering potential
subscribers an unusually convenient way to sample the magazine and its
contents. _International Political Science Abstracts_ has begun indexing
articles, beginning with the first issue.
The journal's orientation might be described as 'engaged,' reflecting
the milieu of its editorial seat at Universite de Paris-X at Nanterre.
Nanterre is a workhorse institution located in a west Paris suburb,
serving 35,000 students in facilities intended for half that number.
Highly regarded as a center for the study of international law, among
other fields, this institution is no ivory tower: formally established in
1971, Paris X Nanterre traces its spiritual and political roots to the
student unrest of May 1968, rather than the Middle Ages.
The journal's director and secretary (Patrick Michels and Yves Tomic,
respectively) are associated with Nanterre; so are a quarter of the
scientific and editorial boards, the remainder being scholars from
British, Canadian, Greek, Croatian and other French universities. Among
the most prominent of these figures are Alain Ducellier, professor of
medieval and Byzantine history at the University of Toulouse-La Mirail,
and Catherine Durandin, university professor at the Institut National des
Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris and a historian of
modern Romania. Others include Bernard Lory, also of INALCO, and Herve
Guillorel, from the politics department at Nanterre.
_Balkanologie_ intends to cover Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria,
Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey.
Almost half of the articles that have appeared so far deal with history or
politics in regions of the former Yugoslavia, another quarter with
Bulgarian topics, and the remainder with Romania (including Moldova),
Albania, and Greece. Contemporary rather than historical matters have
received the greatest share of attention, with fifteen articles on events
before, during or after the revolutions of 1989, four more on the period
of Communism and the Cold War, and perhaps half a dozen historically
focused in periods prior to World War II.
The first issue of _Balkanologie_ was broadly thematic, and dealt with
issues of post-Communism and problems of transition after 1989. Volume I,
No. 2 presented findings drawn from diverse methodologies and sources:
public opinion surveys uncovering mutual perceptions by French and
Bulgarian citizens, ethnological fieldwork in a mixed Serbian-Croatian
village in the Vojvodina in the early 1990s, published economic statistics
tracking the economics of privatization in Bulgaria, and newspaper and
media analysis tracing friction in Albanian-Greek and Hungarian-Romanian
relations (interested readers are reminded that this issue appears in full
text on the Web).
Historians may find Volume II, No. 1 to be of the greatest interest so
far. Xavier Bougarel, a doctoral student at the Institut d'Etudes
Politiques (Paris) debunks urban-rural tensions and "revenge from the
countryside" as leading causes of Yugoslav civil strife, while finding
powerful contemporary references to the myth and history of hajduk and
chetnik. Marina Glamocak, a researcher at the Centre des Etudes et
Mouvements Sociaux, cites Serbian and Croatian publications from around
the world to follow the origin and decline of emigre organizations since
1945. Benoit Joudiou works with published medieval chronicles to place
15th century Wallachian and Moldavian culture in a Slavo-Byzantine
context; three other pieces analyze more recent developments. The latest
issue (Vol. II, No. 2) retains this balance between a historical and a
contemporary focus, with (among other offerings) a pair of articles on
events in Serbia, one dealing with 1877-78 and the other with 1994-95.
The publishers of _Balkanologie_ have also embraced the World Wide Web
as a medium, and their Web site at http://www.chez.com/balkanologie/ not
only seeks to promote networking among scholars, but to serve as a
"gateway" to the Balkans. From the journal's home page, Web surfers can
reach a variety of other Web sites, including daily news from Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty and a long list of Balkan media, digital maps, a
brief bibliography on Kosovo, remarks from the editors, conference news
and announcements, and servers for scholarly institutes, government
agencies and non-governmental organizations located in Western Europe,
America, and most of the Balkan states.
_Balkanologie_ is a lively new serial at a reasonable price: given
current interest in the Balkans, and the ease with which interested
parties can sample the journal's content on the Web, this effort deserves
a look, especially for those who might like to read more work with a
non-Anglo-American perspective. Subscription information appears on the
journal's Web site.
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