Maria Todorova

Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
VF 2001

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The Balkans between cliché and European future

For the last two centuries the Balkans have been at the center of international relations, eclipsed lately only by the Near East, of which they were once deemed to be a part. At the beginning of the 20th century they were transformed from an innocuous name into a powerful derogatory metaphor that softened with time into a weaker but still negative cliché, to blow up fully again in the 1990s. After analyzing Europe and the Near East as analytical concepts, the lecture focuses on the Balkans as the posited intermediary space between them. Having demonstrated the limitations and shortcomings of the conceptual apparatus built around the notions of civilizations, cultural circles, intermediacy and indeterminacy, it introduces the category of historical legacy. The case is made for the advantages in utilizing the concept of historical legacy as an analytical tool over “path dependence,” as well as over more structural categories of analysis, such as borders, space, and territoriality, because it allows to articulate more clearly the dynamism and fluidity of historical change. Finally, practical issues of the relationship between Europe, the Balkans and the Near East in recent years are addressed, both analytically and politically.
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The Balkans Between Cliché and the European Future

For the last two centuries the Balkans have been at the center of international relations, eclipsed lately only by the Near East, of which they were once deemed to be a part. At the beginning of the 20th century they were transformed from an innocuous name into a ...
Read more