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With Marie Bossaert (Rome), Klaus Buchenau (Regensburg) and many more…

#024 – ERIK JAN ZÜRCHER: Kemalism and the making of modern Turkey


In this episode, we discuss the emergence of the Turkish nationalist movement under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the establishment of a sovereign Republic of Turkey in 1923. As our guest Prof. Erik-Jan Zürcher notes, Kemalism can be studied both as a political transformation from armed struggle to a one-party state administration system and as a repertoire of discursive symbols based on the imaginary of nation, civilization, and modernity. This installment is structured along a series of lectures that Prof. Zürcher has given at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, in which he has framed Kemalism’s activism and worldview within its contemporary international context as well as along a broader chronological axis continuing into the 1950s.

#023 – IŞIL ERDINÇ: Turkish labor unions under AKP rule 


Since 2002, when the Party of Development and Justice (AKP) seized power in Turkey, the relationship between state institutions and unions has changed toward polarization and fragmentation. Increasing interference of the government in unions’ internal affairs, explicit favoring the pro-AKP unions, has marginalised dissident confederations of workers, while former trans-union shared initiatives and platforms for defending workers’ rights have faded. In this episode, we approach the historical background of this setting in terms of economic and social transformation of Turkey during the last decades. Secondly, some patterns of union activism and the profiles of the actors involved are discussed. Thirdly, we provide an insight into some local configuration that show a limited, yet existing room for resistance against the AKP policies and state interference.

#022 – MILICA POPOVIĆ & JOVANA PAPOVIĆ: A look at Vučić’s Serbia and the emergence of new social movements


On 2 April 2017 Alexander Vučić became President of Serbia, winning the first round of the elections, obtaining a score of 55%, and leading in all districts of the country. The public perception and representation of Vučić within Serbia is biased by wide constraints on mainstream media, whereas foreign commentators have difficulties in defining his profile in between his former far-right party affiliation, his being “pro-European”, and the concerns about an authoritarian drift in the country. In this episode, we approach the background and the output of this event. By expanding the discussion beyond the domain of party politics and voting tendencies, we explore some aspects of Serbia’s economic landscape after the fall of Yugoslavia and embed more recent trends in a regional context. Most important, we discuss some emerging forms of social movements and their claims by introducing the impact of some factors such as the attitude of the youth, the perspective of the diaspora and the role that “Yugonostalgia” plays in contemporary politics.

#021 – NORAH BENARROSH-ORSONI: On the road with Romanian migrants and traders


After 1989, Romania’s economy and its labor market experienced dramatic changes. One of the most common strategies to survive in a state of precariousness was emigration abroad. In this episode, we discuss two case studies based on based on transnational migration and cross-border informal trade. Firstly, we look at the Parisian suburb of Montreuil, where Roma families have settled in squats in different moments since the late 1990s, and from where they still often travel to Arad, in Transylvania, using mini-busses provided by informal travel agencies. Secondly, we move to the Laleli neighborhood in Istanbul to discuss suitcase trade mostly practiced by Romanian women.

#020 – ALI YAYCIOGLU: Space, wealth, and power in the Ottoman Empire


Ottoman Studies offer several unexplored fields of research for the perspectives introduced by the so called “spatial turn” in historiography. “Space” can be investigated as a constituive element in an abstract imaginary of power and agency, but also as a repository which engenders diverse, more directly experienced “places” where knowledge is produced and power structures become visible. After some theorietical remarks, in this episode we discuss some ongoing projects focused on the spatiality of the Ottoman Empire in the early modern era. Secondly, we introduce some concrete example of how actors moved through space in configurations which included state structures and translocal networks, increasingly integrated into the Ottoman polity. This complex interplay is an occasion to reflect on some dynamics of accumulation of power and wealth through loyalty building, and how this accumulation was characterised by high volatility.

#019 – ANA KLADNIK: A New Town in Socialist Yugoslavia in comparative perspective


After 1945, Yugoslavia aimed at fostering its industrial infrastructure by bringing factories closer to the sites where natural resources were abundant. The “new town” of Velenje in Slovenia was planned in this context in order to provide good housing for the coal miners previously living in surrounding villages. In this episode, we discuss the impact of this urban experiment in the socialization of its inhabitants, the decision making process in its planning, mobilization in form of voluntary work, and the exposure of an urban model to foreign visitors. All these topics are examined in a comparative perspective, focused on another “new town”, Havířov in nowadays Czech Republic, but expanding to a transnational framework beyond the socialist bloc.


#018 – FRANÇOIS GEORGEON: Les Jeunes Turcs: Sauver l’Empire et créer la Nation


Le mouvement des Jeunes Turcs et la Révolution de 1908 bouleversent profondément le système multiethnique et multiconfessionnel de l’Empire Ottoman en établissant un nouveau cadre politique pour les identifications concernant l’ État et la Nation. Dans cet épisode, François Georgeon explore avec nous les origines et les principales transformations du mouvement Jeune Turc: qui sont ces révolutionnaires? Sont-ils des libéraux ou des réactionnaires, et comment caractériser leur rapport au passé ottoman, aux institutions ottomanes et à la modernité? Enfin, comment s’articulent les identités nationalistes et impérialistes qu’ils invoquent et quelles conséquences pour la notion du vivre ensemble au sein de l’Empire Ottoman et dont la République Turque hérite?

#017 – IVA LUCIC: Muslim nation-building in Socialist Yugoslavia


The “long 1960s” represent a vibrant decade for debates on state reconfiguration in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Inside the Communist Party, voices for decentralization gained the overhand in 1964 and eventually led to the new constitution of 1974, which granted more power to the single republics. Reacting to and participating in this political shift, intellectuals engaged in discussions as to how to redefine the markers of belonging, which were to merge territoriality and nationality. This issue was particularly sensitive in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the only republic whose sovereignty was not defined in national terms. In this episode, we discuss how the Communist Party elevated the Muslims from a religious groups to a nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, we approach various options of identification in use at the time, from “Yugoslavs” to “Muslims” and “Bosniaks”, their evolution, and their interplay with governmental cultural politics.


#016 – ELIF BECAN: Balkan migrants in Turkey: Naturalization, identifications, and associations


The repatriation of Muslim refugees from the lost territories in the Balkans to Anatolia became an urgent issue for Ottoman territorial and settlement policies since the war against the Russian Empire in 1877-1878. After the foundation of the Republic of Turkey and until the 1950s, this practice continued, although migrants were settled along new criteria of identification with the state: Islam, post-imperial legacy, and bonds to the Turkish nation. Beside the bureaucratic process of naturalization, however, the integration of Balkan Muslims into Turkish society followed different patterns and results. In this episode, we discuss the dynamics establishing a “mutual loyalty” between the migrants and the state, through factors such as neighborhood communitarianism, founding of associatons, and reappropriation of historical terms such as “Evlad-i Fatihan” (Children of the conquerors).


#015 – “ISLAM IN THE BALKANS” – Paris, 15-16.12.2016: Conference Report


The workshop “Islam in the Balkans”, held at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris in December 2016 was dedicated to the memory of Alexandre Popovic (1931-2014), “Sasha” for his colleagues and friends. The conference gathered twenty-two scholars organised in four panels and a roundtable. In this episode, we talk to two of the main organizers about the topics discussed during the event, the biography and the research of Alexandre Popovic and the current horizons for researching Islam in Southeast Europe, a field that has undergone many turns since the publication of the groundbreaking “L’Islam Balkanique” by Popovic in 1986.


#014 – FRANCESCA ROLANDI: Italian pop culture in Yugoslavia: Transfers and encounters across the Adriatic, 1950s-1960s


During the 1950s and 1960s, Socialist Yugoslavia experienced an opening up to cultural products from Western Europe and the United States. Due to geographic proximity, Italian pop culture propagated by television, cinema, radio and magazines played a key role in the emergence of consumerism on the other side of the Adriatic Sea, prompting transfers, appropriations, and collaborations. In this episode, we discuss several domains related to this phenomenon such as cross-border shopping, music and cinema. The transnational dimension including Italy, Yugoslavia and beyond, offers an occasion for reflecting on the intersections of cultural, social, and diplomatic history during the Cold War.​


#013 – MAURUS REINKOWSKI: The return of the Near East? A perspective on the Arab World, Turkey and Southeast Europe


The current conflicts and humanitarian crisis in states like Syria and Iraq have raised the question of a dissolving political order in the Middle East. This episode describes the evolution of this term since World War One and its interplay with shifting hierarchies of power that involve both regional and external actors. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, formerly hegemonic Western powers have proven increasingly incapable of preserving the cornerstone of the idea of the Middle East: A strategically controlled distance of the potential conflicts in the region and their consequences from Europe. The formation of the Islamic State, the re-emergence of the Kurdish question, and the ambiguous role played by Turkey are some of the elements which question the order established after WWI. The episode invites to a debate on the epistemological redefinition of the Middle East based on the alternative notion of Near East, which could consequently impact on how Southeast Europe is perceived and imagined.


#012 – DOBRINKA PARUSHEVA: National political elites in the late 19th and early 20th century Balkans


Most of Southeast European states such as Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Greece, were formed as independent monarchies in the “long nineteenth century”. One of the most urgent questions for the newly created institutions was how to lean on a cadre of politicians that had no significant experience as state functionaries. Through different strategies of power accumulation, these men would become the new national elite serving as deputies and ministers. From a prosopographical perspective, in this episode we look at the different patterns of elite formation and discuss the process of socialization through higher education, family bonds, and economic capital. The focus on Bulgaria and Romania reveals parallels and singularities in regards to other Balkan states.


#011 – FERNANDO ZAMOLA: The Croatian Question in the Late Habsburg Empire and the road to a Yugoslav state


A discussion on nationalism, loyalties in flux and state formation. The Croatian question was one of the most debated issues in the process of reorganization and devolution of state power in the Habsburg Monarchy in the late 19th and early 20th century. We approach it by analyzing the discussions, projects and ideologies of politicians based in the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia, which were embedded in a larger “Southern Slavs question”  as well as in the political structures of the Kingdom of Hungary, to which these lands belonged, and into the fate of the Empire in general. Thus, the narrative offers an example of how to reframe nation building and state formation through a lens that downplays determinism and continuities. Instead, the eventual inclusion of Croatia and Slavonia into the newborn Yugoslav Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was the result of a rapidly changing international order and ruptures in the discourse of state legitimacy.


#010 – NICOLE IMMIG: Muslims in Greece between Empire and Nation State: The Case of Thessaly and Arta, 1878-1897


In this installment we approach the strategies of integration and mobility of Muslims after the end of Ottoman rule in Thessaly and Arta. The shift from imperial to national province implied new challenges and costraints for the Muslim population that has left only a few traces in those areas. However, these territories also offer a privileged angle to question the dominant narrative of intolerance, ethnic cleansing and immediate forced displacement in late 19th and early 20th century Balkans. Pragmatism both on the side of the authorities and Muslim citizens seems to have prevailed in many regards, from public commemorations to judiciary cases to the preservation of the architectural heritage.


#009 – DANA DOLGHIN: Beyond the Obligation to Remember: Silence, Transnationalism and Memory Culture in Romania


The episode discusses selective memory, forgetting and official memory narratives of communism in Romania. It is in particularly concerned with memory narratives and induced forgetting that occur at the intersection of European memory canons, post-1989 state biography and more recent transnational readings of transitional justice and reconciliation. Although Dana’s research is mainly framed by the Romanian case study as an in-depth study in post-socialist memory negotiations, it also takes into discussion recurring memory constructions in recent political dynamics such as re-emerging nationalism and new populist discourses.


#008 – SRDJAN RADOVIC: Street and Place (re)Naming and Public Memorialization in Former Yugoslav Countries


With the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the governments of the emerging states were concerned about how to reshape a collective identification which was distinctive and – although to different degrees – in contrast with the socialist past. In this framework, changes in toponymy were carried out to modify the meaning and the references of the public space. This process affected segments of the populations through the exposure of national and ideological symbols. Cases of marginalisation coexisted with others where it is possible to observe opportunities for citizens negotiation, resilience and overt opposition to decisions taken by institutions. Srdjan offers an interesting and complex picture deriving from several case studies of former Yugoslav towns with an approach combinig history and ethnography.


#007 – JANIS NALBADIDACIS: Torture Centers in Greece and Argentina during the Military Dictatorships


Torture was a central element in both the Greek and the Argentine dictatorships. In this context, specific institutions which epitomized the regimes’ policy of violence were established. In Athens, this function was fulfilled by the headquarters of the Police (in Bouboulina and later in Mesogeiou Street), whereas in Buenos Aires torture took place at the Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA) in Avenida del Libertador. Basing his analysis on interviews, orders and testimonies of the daily processes within these two enclosed institutions, Janis enquires into the interactional processes and practices of violence. The methodological background of Janis’ work is the figuration analysis conceptualized by Norbert Elias, combined with the approach of thick description of the so called Neue Gewaltsoziologie.


#006 – “EARLY CINEMA IN THE BALKANS AND THE NEAR EAST” – Athens, 05.-07.06.2015: Conference Report


The International Conference “Early Cinema in the Balkans and the Near East – Beginnings to Interwar Period” took place from the 5th to the 7th of June in Athens at the Central Building of the National and Kapodistrian University.  Being the first conference of this kind covering such a wide space, time and range of disciplines, the event represented both a platform to discuss some results but also an occasion to reflect on the challenges for the further development of this approach. This episode gives an overview of the content of the conference, the state of research on early cinema in the region as well as some remarks about future perspectives.


#005 – FABIO GIOMI: Islam, Gender and Civil Society in post-Ottoman Bosnia and Yugoslavia (1878-1941)


Since the mid 19th century, the fate of Bosnian Muslims became a subject of interest for both western academics and politicians. Some emphasized the radical otherness of Islam and considered Muslims as intrinsically “Asian” and “non-European”. Others focused on the Bosnian Muslims’ Slavic language and considered them as legitimate members of the Yugoslav–and by extension European–community of nations. This ambiguous location pushed notables of that community to design and pursue different strategies of adaptation to the post-Ottoman circumstances, ranging from nationalism to communitarism. This episode explores the dynamics by which gender played a key-role in locating Bosnian Muslims in the post-Ottoman landscape.


#004 – KONRAD PETROVSZKY: Bringing the Social into the Intellectual – Orthodox Historiography in the Ottoman Balkans
Especially when it comes to intellectual history, the Ottoman period in Southeastern Europe has been subject to much dispute and biased interpretations. Whereas some have considered it a period of cultural stagnation and decline, others have upheld it to be an age of revived blossoming of Orthodox culture within a widely permissive imperial framework. Beyond these well-entrenched views and the sensitivities associated with them, a wide array of questions remains yet to be answered.
#003 – “INSIDE AND OUTSIDE SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE” – Berlin, 20-21.01.2015: Conference Report
The workshop for young researchers „Inside and Outside Southeastern Europe – Perspectives from Greece and Germany on the Region“ took place on 20 and 21 January at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Twenty-one participants presented their ongoing research in six panels chaired and commented by experts. This special episode of The Southeast Passage is an attempt to draw some conclusions about the framework, the content, and the discussions related to the workshop through an interview with two of the main organizers.
#002 – NIKOS PAPADOGIANNIS: Left-wing Youth Politics, Leisure and Sexuality in Post-Dictatorship Greece, 1974-1981


During the 1970s left-wing youth militancy in Greece intensified, especially after the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1974. How can the cultural politics of left-wing organizations be probed alongside the actual practices of their members? Starting from this question, concepts such as “cultural Americanisation”, “sexual revolution” and “retreat into the private during the 1970s” are worth being critically interrogated.


#001 – RUŽA FOTIADIS: “Traditional Friends and Orthodox Brothers” – Greek-Serbian Friendship in the 1990s between Discourse and Praxis


During the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, the notion of a special relationship between Greece and Serbia dominated the public discourse in both countries. The study of the “Greek-Serbian Friendship” examines the capabilities of rhetorical strategies based on the “emotional” and makes a contribution to larger debates about the logic of friendship and enmity and transnational mobilisation.


Cover Photo by Julian Sandhagen