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Developing Cultural Identity in the Balkans

Convergence vs. Divergence


Raymond Detrez and Pieter Plas

The fundamental contrast between convergent and divergent tendencies in the development of Balkan cultural identity can be seen as an important determinative both in the contradictory self-images of people in the Balkans and in the often biased perceptions of Balkan societies held by external observers, past and present. In bringing together case studies from such heterogeneous lines of research as linguistics, anthropology, political, literary and cultural history, each presenting insightful analyses of micro- as well as macro-level aspects of identity construction in the Balkans, this collection of essays provides a forum for the elucidation and critical evaluation of an intriguing paradox which continues to characterize the cultural situation in the Balkans and which, moreover, is of undeniable relevance for our understanding of recent political developments. As such, it also provides a window into the actual state of scholarly interest in the rich interdisciplinary field of Balkan studies.
This book contains a selection of papers presented at the international conference «Developing Cultural Identity in the Balkans: Convergence vs. Divergence», organized by the Center for Southeast European Studies at Ghent University on 12 and 13 December 2003 in Ghent.
Contents: Raymond Detrez/Pieter Plas: Introduction: Convergence and Divergence in the Development of Balkan Cultural Identity – Victor A. Friedman: From Orientalism to Democracy and Back Again. Turkish in the Balkans and in Balkan Languages – Christian Voss: Linguistic Divergence and (Re)Convergence within the Macedonian Standard/Dialect Continuum – Tanja Petrović: The Serbs of Bela Krajina between Local and National Identity – Magdalena Elchinova: Alien by Default. The Identity of the Turks of Bulgaria at Home and in Immigration – Nada Alaica: A Mixing of Cultural Identities. The Croatian Borderlands in the Nineteenth Century – Georgios Plakotos: Christian and Muslim Converts from the Balkans in Early Modern Venice. Patterns of Social and Cultural Mobility and Identities – Julia G. Krivoruchko: A Case of Divergent Convergence. The Cultural Identity of Romaniote Jewry – Bernard Lory: The Bulgarian-Macedonian Divergence. An Attempted Elucidation – Basil C. Gounaris: Constructing and Deconstructing a Common Balkan Past in Nineteenth-Century Greece – Nathalie Clayer: Convergences and Divergences in Nationalism through the Albanian Example – Boyko Penchev: Tsarigrad/Istanbul and the Spatial Construction of Bulgarian National Identity in the 1860s and 1870s.