Sunday, August 16, 2009

Four new books in Southeast European Studies

Source of the overviews: Google Books

Vintilă Mihăilescu, Ilia Iliev, Slobodan Naumovic. Studying Peoples in the People's Democracies II: Socialist Era Anthropology in South-East Europe. LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2009 [Volume 17 of Halle Studies in the Anthropology of Eurasia]

Was there anything like a "socialist anthropology" common to Bulgaria and Serbia? Did Soviet and/or Marxist influences, in the discipline and in society in general, penetrate so deeply as to form an unavoidable common denominator of anthropological practice? The answers turn out to be complex and subtle. While unifying ideological forces were very strong in the 1950s, diversity increased thereafter. Anthropology was entangled with national ideology in all three countries.

Roderick Beaton, David Ricks. The Making of Modern Greece: Nationalism, Romanticism, and the Uses of the Past (1797-1896). Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2009 [Publications for the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College, London]

Every Greek and every friend of the country knows the date 1821, when the banner of revolution was raised against the empire of the Ottoman Turks, and the story of 'Modern Greece' is usually said to begin. Less well known, but of even greater importance, was the international recognition given to Greece as an independent state with full sovereign rights, as early as 1830. This places Greece in the vanguard among the new nation-states of Europe whose emergence would gather momentum through to the early twentieth century, a process whose repercussions continue to this day. Starting out from that perspective, which has been all but ignored until now, this book brings together the work of scholars from a variety of disciplines to explore the contribution of characteristically nineteenth-century European modes of thought to the 'making' of Greece as a modern nation. Closely linked to nationalism is romanticism, which exercised a formative role through imaginative literature, as is demonstrated in several chapters on poetry and fiction. Under the broad heading 'uses of the past', other chapters consider ways in which the legacies, first of ancient Greece, then later of Byzantium, came to be mobilized in the construction of a durable national identity at once 'Greek' and 'modern'.The Making of Modern Greece aims to situate the Greek experience, as never before, within the broad context of current theoretical and historical thinking about nations and nationalism in the modern world. The book spans the period from 1797, when Rigas Velestinlis published a constitution for an imaginary 'Hellenic Republic', at the cost of his life, to the establishment of the modern Olympic Games, in Athens in 1896, an occasion which sealed with international approval the hard-won self-image of 'Modern Greece' as it had become established over the previous century.

Ryan Gingeras. Sorrowful Shores: Violence, Ethnicity, and the End of the Ottoman Empire 1912-1923. Oxford University Press US, 2009 [Oxford studies in modern European history]

The Turkish Republic was formed out of immense bloodshed and carnage. During the decade leading up to the end of the Ottoman Empire and the ascendancy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, virtually every town and village throughout Anatolia was wracked by intercommunal violence. Sorrowful Shores presents a unique, on-the-ground history of these bloody years of social and political transformation. Challenging the determinism associated with nationalist interpretations of Turkish history between 1912 and 1923, Ryan Gingeras delves deeper into this period of transition between empire and nation-state. Looking closely at a corner of territory immediately south of the old Ottoman capital of Istanbul, he traces the evolution of various communities of native Christians and immigrant Muslims against the backdrop of the Balkan Wars, the First World War, the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish War of Independence, and the Greek occupation of the region. Drawing on new sources from the Ottoman archives, Gingeras demonstrates how violence was organized at the local level. Arguing against the prevailing view of the conflict as a war between monolithic ethnic groups driven by fanaticism and ancient hatreds, he reveals instead the culpability of several competing states in fanning successive waves of bloodshed.

Dimitrije Golemovic. Balkan Refrain: Form and Tradition in European Folk Song. Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2009

Balkan Refrain studies various aspects of the refrain, such as its origin, development, forms, and use in traditional and popular music. It attempts to establish what refrain actually is and how it can be defined in folk and scholarly practice based on musical examples from Serbia, Montenegro, and the Republic of Srpska, with the aim of finding general rules applicable to refrains in the songs of other nations. The refrain is observed from musical and linguistic perspectives, as well as its religious, social, and economical uses. The book includes an audio CD featuring traditional folk songs as well as some examples of newly composed folk songs.

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