Western Balkans: Imperial Legacies, Nation-Building, State Disintegration

Vladimir Petrović, Research Professor, Institute of Contemporary History, Belgrade, and CEU Democracy Institute

The southeastern peninsula of the European continent, more recognizable under its loaded term “the Balkans,” is a region of stunning ethnic and religious diversity and rich history. Traditionally at the crossroads of imperial influences, this space was and remains a region of competing political projects. Throughout the 20th century, the pendulum between centrifugal and centripetal tendencies produced different national, but also federalist projects, which collided violently and deadly. The borderland character of the Balkans continues into the 21st century, with a significant part of the peninsula lingering in the EU antechambers. The unfinished character of its integration, alongside with its incomplete modernization, produced a number of challenges, whose past and present is in the focuses of this course. We intend to present these dilemmas and discussions as being relevant to Ukrainian students on many levels, without any intention, however, to postulate direct equivalences between the post-Soviet and post-Yugoslav contexts.