Mike Rossi


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Courses » Democracy and Nation-Building in the Balkans: 1453 - Present

Content: Democracy and Nation-Building in the Balkans: 1453 - Present

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This brand new course offered jointly between the Program in Modern Greek Studies and the Department of Political Science will seek to examine the patterns of political, social, and cultural developments in the formation and development of modern statecraft in the Balkans. This course will specifically examine developments in Greece, Serbia (Yugoslavia), and Turkey, with additional attention to Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Cyprus.

The course will serve two large purposes:

At the present time, debates on nation-building and democratic transitions are ever present in academic arguments and current events. As such, we will examine a region of the world that received considerable attention last decade but has been all but ignored in light of recent developments in the Middle East. Specifically, we will investigate the conditions of political development of ethnic communities breaking away from the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, the rise of national identity, the role of historical memory, and path dependent legacies that continue to influence contemporary political issues today.

It is important to note that this course is multidisciplinary. While the primary starting point for examining the Balkans will be rooted in theories of democratic transitions, there will be a heavy emphasis based on historical texts, anthropological studies, and the multifaceted and diverse forms of expression such as literature, poetry, art, and music. For, it is only when the nature of each ethnic community is examined from many angles that one can come to a comprehensive understanding of the society

Target Group

This upper level "Topics" class, is designed for juniors and seniors, particularly those already interested in European, Eastern European, and Eastern Mediterranean studies. It covers countries and issues not normally considered in most undergraduate European courses and as such is not designed for the casual student. Nevertheless, the class is neither impossible, nor incomprehensible to those without prior knowledge of the area and I considered it a major accomplishment that with the exception of two or three students who knew something about the area prior to class, the majority of students found the materials interesting and did well enough to justify offering the class in the future.

Because the class was also sponsored by the Modern Greek Studies Program, those interested in Greek history, politics, and society were also drawn to it, despite Greece being only one of a series of countries studied.

Course Structure

This class was offered so far only once, back in Fall 2006, as a jointly listed course with Modern Greek and Political Science. As I was beginning my dissertation, I wanted to offer a class that focused on the politics and society of Southeastern Europe, and in much the same way my European Politics class is designed around comparative historical analysis, this class also begins with a general overview of the Balkan region prior to the Serbian and Greek revolutions of the 19th century and ends with then-contemporary issues of the previous decade. It is structured for both political science and history majors, utilizing theories of nationalism, collective and historical memory, pan-ethnic politics, and early democratic parliamentary politics.

Students have an option of writing a midterm, (relatively) short research paper (using class readings) and final, or conduct independent research on one large paper in lieu of all three. This latter option was reserved for more advanced students in the subject matter, or students who were planning on writing a senior honors thesis and use elements of this class as structural material. I also provided hands-on support and required them to submit an annotated bibliography and rough draft throughout the semester - similar in fashion to the research project in Theories of Democratic Transition.

Work Material

I collected a series of scholarly articles and chapters from history books to make up the reading list. In addition, I assigned Glenny's book The Balkans: 1804 - 1999 as a general history book to read. While not being part of the formal assigned reading, students were still required to purchase it and along with the main readings, should have read through the chapters corresponding with specific sections to get a basic understanding of the history, region, people, and events.

Ultimately, the readings focused mainly on Greece and Serbia, as they are the two most important countries in the region in relation to state-sponsored policies of national identity, territorial expansion, and historical memory. Has the class been two semesters, I could have included readings on Bulgaria and Turkey.

Author Bibliographic Data
Anderson, Benedict 
Imagined Communities. New York: Verso Press, 1983
Collin, Matthew Guerrilla Radio: Rock ‘n’ Roll and Serbia’s Underground Resistance. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2001 [Col01]
Chaconas, Stephen Adamantios Korais: A Study in Greek Nationalism. Columbia University Press, 1942 [Cha42]
Diamandouros, P. Nikiforos and F. Stephen Larrabee “Democratization in South-Eastern Europe: Theoretical Considerations and Evolving Trends”, in Experimenting with Democracy: Regime Change in the Balkans. Geoffrey Pridham and Tom Gallagher, eds. New York: Routledge, 2000: 24 – 64 [DiLa00]
Gagnon, V.P. The Myth of Ethnic War: Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s. Cornell University Press, 2004 [Gag04]
Gellner, Ernest Nations and Nationalism. Cornell University Press, 1983 [Gel83]
Glenny, Misha The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers, 1804 – 1999. New York: Penguin Publishers, 2001 [Gle01]
Greenawalt, Alexander “Kosovo Myths: Karadži?, Njegoš, and the Transformation of Serb Memory”, Spaces of Identity, vol. 3 (2001), pp. 49 – 65 [Gre01]
Herzfeld, Michael Ours Once More: Folklore, Ideology, and the Making of Modern Greece. New York: Pella Publishing Company, 1986 [Her86]
Iatrides, John Studies in the History of the Greek Civil War, 1945 – 1949. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1987 [Iat87]
International Crisis Group "Kosovo: The Challenge of Transition", Europe Report N°170 – February 17, 2006: 1 – 31 [ICG06]
Karadži?, Vuk Songs of the Serbian People. Translated and edited by Milne Holton and Vasa D. Mihailovich. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997 [Kara97]
Karakasidou, Anastasia Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood: Passages of Nationhood in Greek Macedonia, 1870 – 1990. Chicago University Press, 1997 [Kar97]
Kaufman, Stuart J. Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War. Cornell University Press, 2001 [Kau01]
Kitromilides, Paschalis “On the Intellectual Content of Greek Nationalism: Paparrigopoulos, Byzantium and the Great Idea”, in Byzantium and the Modern Greek Identity. David Ricks and Paul Magdalino, eds. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing, 1998: 25 - 33 [Kit98]
Koliopoulos, John and Thanos Veremis Greece: The Modern Sequel, From 1831 to the Present. New York University Press, 2002 [KoVe02]
Kozyris, Paedon John “The Legal Dimension of the Current Greek-Turkish Conflict: A Greek Viewpoint”, in Greek-Turkish Relations in an Era of Globalization. Dimitris Keridis and Dimitrios Triantaphyllou, eds. Dulles, Virginia: Brassey’s, Inc, 2001: 102 – 114 [Kor01]
Linz, Juan J. and Alfred Stepan Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996 [LiSt96]
Liotta, P.H. Dismembering the State: The Death of Yugoslavia and Why it Matters. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001 [Lio01]
Marrus, Michael The Unwanted: European Refugees from the First World War Through the Cold War. Temple University Press, 2002 [Mar02]
McDonald, Robert “Greek-Turkish Relations and the Cyprus Conflict”, in Greek-Turkish Relations in an Era of Globalization. Dimitris Keridis and Dimitrios Triantaphyllou, eds. Dulles, Virginia: Brassey’s, Inc, 2001: 116 – 150 [McD01]
Moore, Jr., Barrington Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Boston: Beacon Press, 1966 [Moo66]
Njegoš, Petar The Mountain Wreath. Translated by Vasa D. Mihailovich. Irvine, California: Charles Schlacks, Jr. Publishers 1986 [Nje86]
Öni?, Ziya “The Role of the European Union in Greek-Turkish Relations: Perpetuator of Conflict or Contributor to Peace?” in Greece and Turkey in the 21st Century: Conflict or Cooperation – A Political Economy Perspective. Christos Kollias and Gülay Günlük-?enesen, eds. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2003: 165 – 178 [Öni03]
Pappas, Nicholas “Between Two Empires: Serbian Survival in the Years after Kosovo”, in Serbia’s Historical Heritage, Alex N. Dragnich ed. New York: Columbia University Press 1994: 17 – 37 [Pap94]
Politis, Alexis “From Christian Roman Emperors to the Glorious Greek Ancestors”, in Byzantium and the Modern Greek Identity. David Ricks and Paul Magdalino, eds. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing, 1998: 1 – 14 [Pol98]
Smith, Anthony National Identity. University of Nevada Press, 1991 [Smi91]
Stavrianos, L. S. The Balkans Since 1453. New York University Press, 2000 [Sta00]
Stephenson, Paul The Legend of Basil the Bulgar-Slayer. Cambridge University Press, 2003 [Ste03]
Stoianovich, Traian “The Conquering Balkan Orthodox Merchant”, Journal of Economic History, vol. 20, no. 2 (June 1960), pp. 234 – 313 [Sto60]
Wilson, Duncan The Life and Times of Vuk Stefanovi? Karadži?: Literacy, Literature, and National Independence in Serbia. University of Michigan, 1986 [Wil86]


©Michael Rossi – http://michael-rossi.demokratio.info