Talk by Malte Fuhrmann: "Entangled Histories in the Balkans A Perspective on Modern Southeast Europe"

Author: CSSH
Time: 17:30
Location: SOS Z27

The historiography of Southeast Europe has been dominated by two opposing trends. On the one hand, the region is believed to have served as “crossroads” or “bridge” between “civilizations” in ancient and medieval times. The people of the Mediterranean and of the steppes, Roman and Greek ancient culture, the Slavic and the Germanic soul, Catholicism and Orthodoxy, Christianity and Islam are believed to have crossed paths here. By contrast, in the modern period, the region has become associated with parochialism, militant nationalism, and concomitant small, inefficient states, epitomized by the word “Balkanization.” These two metanarratives have come under criticism, both by historians from within the region and from without, as being too clichéd to illuminate the region’s rich and highly diverse culture as well as the ways its inhabitants have engaged with the world around them. We are therefore faced with the challenge of finding a perspective that allows room for the manifold interactions of the modern period and that shifts the perspective from states or “civilizations” to people and their agency.

In my presentation, I will first touch upon transnational practices in the region today. I will then discuss whether the concept of “transimperial subjects” (Natalie Rothman) helps us to better understand border-crossing practices and identities in the nineteenth century, before finally addressing the question how to approach the twentieth century, its nation states, and the Cold War from an entangled histories approach.