CfP: 6th International Interdisciplinary Conference in Balkan Studies "Balkan Express 2021 - Neighbors and Neighborhood in the Balkans"

Publication date
July 18, 2021
August 31, 2021
Short description

This year the conference will aim to rethink the Balkans through concepts and ideas of neighbors, neighborhood and neighborly relations. The central role of the notion of neighborhood (komšiluk) in the daily lives of people in the Balkans and the importance of neighborly relations in Balkan societies in general seems to be beyond doubt.

On the one hand, the traditional Balkan notion of neighborhood, formed under Ottoman and Mediterranean social and cultural influences, tends to be conceptualized in an inclusive manner, emphasizing the special relations, respect and mutual assistance among close neighbors regardless of their faith and ethnicity. Neighborhood is primarily understood as an intimate space of deep bonds, affections, mutual help and tolerance. In this perspective, neighborly solidarity helps to neutralize the effects of the anonymous outside forces of modern state, nationalism, and economic exploitation of individual lives. In the extreme situations of military conflicts, ethnic cleansing and ideological clashes, many tended to save lives, property and dignity of their neighbors.

On the other hand, the Balkans are also frequently conceptualized as a region characterized by deep and long-lasting mutual animosity and repetitive violence among neighbors. Neighborhood is thus represented as a breeding ground of distrust, jealousy, hatred and conflict. In this view, Balkan neighbors simply kill, loot, rape and expel one another with greater frequency and fury than other Europeans.

The 6th "Balkan Express” conference would like to revisit the notions, practices and discourses of neighbors and neighborhood in the Balkans (historical, anthropological, political and economic perspectives). The conference adopts an interdisciplinary approach, enabling different fields of knowledge production and ways of understanding neighbors and neighborhood. This year the conference is going to take form of a hybrid event due to the coronavirus pandemics. It will be possible to attend the conference both physically and virtually. In addition to a rich academic program, the conference will also provide a glimpse into Balkan cultural and artistic production. We look forward to meeting you in Prague this November.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Komšiluk (neighborhood) as an intimate space of special bonds in discourses and practical life
  • Other concepts describing neighborly relations and neighborhood in the Balkans (e.g. zavicaj, zadruga, zajednica or mahala - the physical neighborhoods in post-Ottoman Balkan cities and towns)
  • “Neighbors killing neighbors” and/or “Neighbors saving neighbors”
  • Broken Bonds and “Impossible Neighborhood”
  • Absent neighbors (dead and expelled neighbors, neighbors living abroad, neighborhoods affected by negative demographic trends)
  • Neighborhood in contemporary political discourses and practice (inter-state relations between ‘Balkan neighbors’, notions of good/bad neighborly relations between various ethnic groups, the project of EU enlargement progressively incorporating Europe´s ‘Balkan neighborhood’)

Report and program from the previous Balkan Express Conference (2019) available here:

  • Other
Geographical focus
  • SEE
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary
  • Humanities
  • Social Sciences

Entry created by Admin on July 21, 2021
Modified on July 21, 2021