Introduction

 

Second Balkan studies meeting

 

IN SEARCH OF THE BALKANS: BETWEEN EUROPE AND THE MEDITERRANEAN?

Marseille, June 2-4, 2016

Villa Méditerranée - MuceM

 

The second Balkan Studies meeting “In search of the Balkans: between Europe and the Mediterranean?” (June 2-4, 2016) will follow the “Balkan studies: state of knowledge and lines of research” meeting organized by the French Association of Balkan studies (AFEBALK) in Paris in November 2002.

The objective of this new meeting is to provide an overview of the current state of research concerning this region through the perspective of the multiple ways of practicing social sciences here. Nearly fifteen years after the previous meeting, a new milestone in the contemporary Balkan studies in France has to be set. Numerous issues valid then (minorities, conflicts, borders, interfaith co-existence etc.), which often contributed to characterizing the Balkans as a “separate” space in Europe, have now given way to new perspectives, new challenges and new research practices. This new “return of the Balkans” to the forefront of the European scene has been demonstrated by distinct events such as the entry of certain countries in the European Union and the prospective membership of others as well as a series of far-reaching events such as the eruption of the financial crisis in Greece and its global effects and the massive and dramatic migratory processes currently facing the entire southeast European region. In different manners, these events have led us to view the Balkan area as connected to both continental and globalization trends. The participation of Balkan societies in wider processes has been accompanied by numerous transformations that have affected the everyday lives of its inhabitants over the last decades.

As such, beyond the question “are the Balkans still valid ?” (a rhetorical question at the time of the Greek crisis, the migration issues, the EU membership process and geopolitical recomposition processes in eastern and southern Europe), we can ask in what manner southeastern Europe still constitutes an effective observatory to understand the wider social dynamics affecting both the European continent and the Mediterranean region.

 

Looking beyond the mobilization of local teams of the University of Aix-Marseille (Maison méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme, LabexMed, MuCEM and Villa Méditerranée), Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan (CREC), Lyon (CREA and EVS) and CETOBAC (EHESS, CNRS and Collège de France), these meetings aim to constitute a new milestone enabling the re-valorization of the activity of the French Association of Balkan studies as a interdisciplinary exchange framework for researchers working in France (regularly as well as occasionally) on the southeaster European countries. This is the reason why this conference will also leave room for personal and institutional experiences, roundtables for the discussion of the current state of Balkan studies along and broader discussions with the public regarding these questions during sessions largely open to the public.

This meeting will lead to several publications.

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