Books (29)

 Zagreb as project 

posted by istanbul 14 years ago

On H-Urban has recently appeared a review of the volume Project Zagreb: Transition as Condition, Strategy, Practice (Eds. Eve Blau and Ivan Rupnik; Barcelona [sic], 2007) by Brigitte Le Normand, who writes: "Recent writings on the built environment in socialist Eastern Europe tend to highlight one or both of the following themes: firstly, that socialist regimes tried to devise a specifically "socialist" urbanism and architecture, and secondly, that they encountered a great deal of practical difficulties in putting such ideas into practice. The resulting agglomerations and spaces are thus best understood as a product of both socialist ideology and socialist practice. [T]hey are consigned to the past, strange relics of a system that no longer exists and from which nothing can be learned. That is why it is so refreshing to read Eve Blau and Ivan Rupnik's Project Zagreb ... Taking as a starting point Zagreb's current status as a city in transition, they posit that Zagreb has, in fact, been in perpetual transition for the last 150 years, and that insights into how to cope with instability can be gleaned from the efforts of previous generations of architects and urban planners ... While the volume sheds a good deal of light on the practices of architects, it is less convincing in its dealings with symbolic and identity issues. Ivan Rogic presents the project of modernizing Zagreb undertaken in the late nineteenth century by the ruling elite in Zagreb exclusively as a Croatian nation-building project. This strikes me as a case of reading history backwards, looking for the seeds of a recently realized national project in the distant past." Read the full review here.

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 The Ottoman (re-)urbanization of SEE and the role of the March Lords 

posted by istanbul 14 years ago

Cornucopia No. 41 features a summary of Heath Lowry's 2008 book (see posting below) by Caroline Finkel, stressing the importance of March Lord families in not only the conquest but the urbanization of the post-Byzantine Balkans:

"The hero of Lowry’s story is the ucbey (march lord) Haci Gazi Evrenos Bey, who died in 1417 and was associated with almost every conquest between the Meric River in the east and the Adriatic in the west. Although Evrenos’s name has not been erased from history, the part played by him and his family in establishing Ottoman rule in western Thrace and Macedonia, and maintaining it down the centuries, was egregiously downplayed by later chroniclers ... Evrenos was the most prominent of the march lords in the Balkans in the second half of the 14th century, and the now mostly ruined buildings marking their westerly progress provide the evidence that he and his family, the Evrenosogullari, were responsible for pushing back the Ottoman frontier. They settled first in Gumulcine (modern Komotini), then in Siroz (Serres) and finally in Yenice Vardar (Giannitsa). Evrenos endowed these cities, and other sites along his route, with mosques and the infrastructure of urban and commercial life ... Lowry’s findings lead him to the view that the Osmanogullari – the Ottomans – were no more than first among equals at this time. He also rejects the view that their westward push was merely a series of raids for slaves and booty, arguing that they had planned a campaign of conquest from the outset, as the permanence of the monuments they built eloquently testifies."

 Lowry, Ousterhout, and the earliest Ottoman fortress in Europe 

posted by istanbul 14 years ago

The Princeton-based Ottomanist Heath Lowry has recently released two books significantly increasing our understanding of the early Ottoman expansion into Greece in the 14th century (1, 2). Not entirely unnoticed should go a review he wrote for Cornucopia: the magazine for connoisseurs of Turkey (No. 39), in which he discusses the recent book  The Byzantine Monuments of the Evros/Meric River Valley by Robert Ousterhout and Charalambos Bakirtzis. The text is available online here. While he finds the book a useful addition, he disagrees with them when it comes to the 14th-ct. fortress of Pythion near Didymoteicho in Greek Thrace. One part of which has been dendrochronologically dated to c1331, hence making it a Byzantine building. Lowry, however, suggests to attribute the second stage of the fortresses construction to the Ottoman "Lord of the Marches" Haci Ilbegi. If this dating is correct, it would make the Pythion fortress "the earliest known Ottoman fortification, predating Anadolu Hisarı on the Asian side of the Bosphorus by close to half a century." Curiously, Bulgarian National Television has just used the fortress for the filming of its documentary titled The Ottoman Invasion (*).

 Is Balkan Art History Global? 

posted by istanbul 15 years ago
There are not many critical texts with the state of art historical practice in Southeast Europe as their theme, and it is for this reason that I would like to highlight an article by Suzana Milevska published in the fairly recent volume Is art history global? (New York: Routledge, 2007) produced under the aegis of James Elkins. The title of her paper (pp. 214-22) is "Is Balkan Art History Global?", a question she soon dismisses as merely rhetorical. The reasons for this she sees as manifold: 1) "there are hardly any art historians or art history books from the Balkans that are known anywhere else but in their own region"; 2) "the professionals from the countries that form the Balkans do not communicate easily with each other and hardly read each other’s art historical texts"; and 3) "obsessed on their own problems in defining what is regional, national, and international art history, the Balkans did not always follow the same pace as art history in the West", which has more recently turned to study "topics and issues rather than historic periods, styles, or national art histories." While this is only the introduction to an article that deserves to be read in full, a "preview" (only 2 pages missing) can be "snuck" through Google books.

 A new urban history: Ottoman Pazardijk (Boykov) 

posted by istanbul 15 years ago

Monographic treatments of Balkan city histories are quite a rarity, and it is with this shortcoming in mind that I would like to highlight a new book on Pazardjik by Grigor Boykov. He was kind enough to send me a review copy of his Татар Пазарджик, от основаването на града до края на ХVІІ век (Tatar Pazardjik, from the foundation of the town until the end of the 17th century), published by Amicitia (Sofia) just a couple of weeks ago. For more on the contents of this book, click here to expand.

 Reviews: Architectural heritage of "Lands of Rum" and Late Ottoman Herzegovina 

posted by istanbul 15 years ago
This month I have written two reviews of recently published (and very recommendable) books, both are available online:

For the Newsletter of the European Architectural History Network [No. 4 (2008), pp. 36-39]:
  • Gülru Necipoğlu and Sibel Bozdoğan (eds.): History and Ideology: Architectural Heritage of the “Lands of Rum” [= Muqarnas 24]. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2007. (pdf, 2.2mb)
...and for Kakanien Revisited (21/12/2008):
  • Hannes Grandits: Herrschaft und Loyalität in der spätosmanischen Gesellschaft. Das Beispiel der multimultikonfessionellen Herzegowina [Power and Loyalties in Late Ottoman Society: The Case of Multi-Confessional Herzegovina]. Wien/Köln/Weimar: Böhlau, 2008. (pdf, 0.2mb)

 Early Ottoman Balkans (Lowry) and Aegean Islands architecture (Konuk) 

posted by istanbul 16 years ago

Steve Lewis has published a mini-review of Heath Lowry's new book The Shaping of the Ottoman Balkans, 1350-1550: The Conquest, Settlement & Infrastructural Development of Northern Greece. I might comment on the same book here at a later point. Another recent publication: Neval Konuk's Midilli, Rodos, Sakiz ve Istanköy'de Osmanli Mimarisi /Ottoman Architecture in Lesvos, Rhodes, Chios and Kos Islands. According to the author (here, in Turkish), this work (limited to 2000 copies) was based on 1,5 yrs of fieldwork, and presents 30 religious monuments, 19 funerary monuments, 6 fortresses, 5 gov'tal  and 10 educational buildings, 6 hamams, 28 fountains, and 10 mansions.

 Urban Life and Culture in SEE 

posted by istanbul 16 years ago

On H-Soz-u-Kult we can find a review (HTML, PDF) of the volume Urban Life and Culture in Southeastern Europe (2007, Ed. K. Roth and U. Brunnbauer) [=Ethnologia Balkanica 10; cf. also my older posting] featuring the (second half of the) proceedings of the 2005 conference in Belgrade of the same name (at which your blogger also presented a paper, and which he found to be one of the more productive conferences of the last years). The next INASEA conference ("Region, Regional Identity and Regionalism in Southeastern Europe") will take place later this month in Timisoara (programme, abstracts), and preparations for next year's conference in Ankara ("Migration to, from, and in Southeastern Europe: Intercultural Communication, Social Change and Transnational Ties") are underway (call for papers)

 A "guide" to a Belgrade shantytown  

posted by istanbul 16 years ago

A "guide" has just been published about the Belgrade shantytown of Gazela. This Roma settlement ("173 households") below a highway bridge in the centre of the city had emerged, illegally, in 1983 as a result of the economic crisis following Tito's death. Social structure and infrastructure were documented in the authors' project which, as we learn, was not entirely uncontroversial. Translations of Lorenz Aggermann, Eduard Freudmann, and Can Gülcü's Beograd-Gazela: Reiseführer in eine Elendssiedlung (Drava, 2007) into English, Serbian, and Romani are to follow. More information (in German) on the project/book can be found on this website; a review by Elena Messner has been published  elsewhere on this site (pdf).

 Book: Cultural heritage policies in SEE 

posted by istanbul 16 years ago

A new book just published by the Council of Europe: Analysis and reform of cultural heritage policies in South East Europe (2008, 281p.; 19EU). Including the usual SEE countries plus Romania and Croatia and minus Greece, it is "concerned with current heritage policies and legislation" and aims "to take stock of the current position in the countries of South-East Europe", highlighting "the need to undertake an in-depth analysis of certain key areas where difficulties still arise with regard to implementation". A table of contents and ordering information can be found here.

 Books - Part 19 

posted by mh 16 years ago
Last week the Municipality of Greater Istanbul has announced its decision to publish a journal about culture and art in Istanbul, in Turkish and English, and with a circulation of 10,000. The title (and this no joke): “1453 İstanbul Kültür ve Sanat Dergisi” (1453 İstanbul Journal of Culture and Art). [1453 is the date of the Ottoman conquest of Byzantine Constantinople.] The explanation: "We named it ‘1453’ because this is the date when languages and religions started living together [in İstanbul]." Do we really need to comment? You can purchase "1453" (or not) online or at Istanbul Kitapcisi on Istiklal Caddesi for around 7EU. (Sources: 1,2)

 Books - Part 18 - Part 2 

posted by mh 17 years ago
The diary of Nikolai Todorov, who, with his The Balkan City, 1400-1900, has made a seminal contribution to the study of Southeast European cities in the Ottoman period, has recently been published as: Nikolai Todorov, Dnevnik (1966-1998), 2 Vols. Ed. Varban Todorov. Sofia: IZTOK-ZAPAD, 2007. [ISBN 978-954-321-329-0] Theoretically, it should be available at (or via for the price of 70 leva (i.e. around 35 Euros; not really much for 2870 pages!). The publisher (in an email sendout) announces it as "a unique combination of several genres: autobiographical, historical and documentary. It consists of his extensive and methodically kept diary in the course of several decades, his autobiography written during the 1990s, as well as some documentary materials from his personal archive ... The diary is focused mostly on the scholarly and organizational activities of Nikolai Todorov, and allows a rare glimpse into the intimate workings of academic life during the communist period".

 Books - Part 17 

posted by mh 17 years ago
Part of the newly published book "Rumeli'da yasam" (Life in Rumelia) by Halime Dogru, the kadi sicilleri (court records) for Dobrich (trk. "Hacioglu pazari") for the years 1798-1809 have been made available online in a latin transcription of the Ottoman-Turkish original (.pdf, 2MB, 233p).

 Books - Part 16 

posted by mh 17 years ago
"Have ethnic and religious animosities caused the destruction of the artistic and cultural heritage of Kosova during the Ottoman period?" is the title of the article Machiel Kiel (1,2) has contributed to the recently published volume The Case for Kosova. Passage to Independence (Ed. Anna Di Lellio. London: Anthem, 2006). The full table of contents can be seen here.

 Books - Part 15 

posted by mh 17 years ago
Most papers given at the 2006 Conference of the European Association for Urban History are now available for download online. Direct links to a selection of those relevant for our corner of the world can be accessed by clicking on "more" below.

 Books - Part 14 

posted by mh 17 years ago
A new volume on Istanbul has been published: Istanbul: Vom Imperialen Herrschersitz zur Megapolis. Ed. Yavuz Köse [with a foreword by Suraiya Faroqhi]. Munich: Martin Meidenbauer, 2006. 450 pp. According to the publisher the book [= the proceedings of the conference "Istanbul im Wandel der Jahrhunderte"] "deals with three main sujects of Istanbul - society, institutions, areas. What influence did classical institutions and establishments have on the development of the metropolis? How do the citizens organize themselves with regard to social, cultural and economic issues? The contributions* offer new insights on the former imperial throne and today's secret capital of Turkey." Contributors include Klaus Kreiser, Suraiya Faroqhi, Christoph K. Neumann, and Oliver Jens Schmitt. The table of contents can be downloaded here (pdf).

 Books - Part 13 

posted by mh 17 years ago
Two masters' theses written at the University of Cincinatti's department for architecture are available online for download and may be of interest to our readers: Rebeka Kranch's Post-Communist Planning in Bulgaria: A Fusion of East and West? [2006] (abstract, PDF) and Gulen Cevik's Parlors and Parler: Turkish, European & American Conversations in the Construction in the Living Room [2002] (abstract, PDF).

 Books - Part 12 

posted by mh 18 years ago
A new book entitled Provincial Elites in the Ottoman Empire has been published (ed. Antonis Anastasopoulos/2005), featuring the proceedings of a conference on Crete in 2003. Relevant articles include "Belgrade: A Muslim and Non-Muslim Cultural Centre (Sixteenth-Seventeenth Centuries)", "Varos: The Elites of the Reaya in the Towns of Rumeli, Seventeenth-Eighteenth Centuries", "The Mixed Elite of a Balkan Town: Karaferye [Verria] in the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century", "Architectural Patronage of Ayan Families in Anatolia", and "Les élites urbaines à l’époque du tanzimat: le cas de Salonique". Table of Contents.

 Books - Part 11 

posted by mh 18 years ago
Ethnologia Balkanica 9 (2005) on "Urban Culture - Urban Life" has recently been published as a selection of papers from the conference "Urban Life and Culture in Southeast Europe" (Belgrade, 5/2005). A list of the contributions can be accessed here.

 Books - Part 10 

posted by mh 18 years ago
Petur Yokimov and Lyubinka Stoylova, the authors of a recently published book on Art Nouveau and Bulgarian architecture have offered me to publish the English summary of their work here at [BalkanCities]; an offer that I appreciatively accepted. The summary – approximately 3,5 pages in A4 print – can be found in the subtext (click on more below).

 Books - Part 9 

posted by mh 18 years ago
Chişinău, Sofia, Pristina, Sarajevo, Zagreb, Warsaw, and Ljubljana are the cities featured in a new book, "Leap into the City: Cultural Positions, Political Conditions. Seven Scenes from Europe", which emerged from the relations-project and an "intensive exchange with cultural actors in the countries of eastern Europe for the last three years. Every-day life and visions, social realities, and aesthetic practices are at the center of this discourse [...]. The starting point was always the specific local situation".

 Books - Part 8 

posted by mh 18 years ago
Coinciding with the publication of its guidebook for the "Western Balkans", Lonely Planet has chosen the region as its destination of the month. Among the urban destinations, Tirana is singled out for its "wild architecture", Ljubljana as a "charming capital", and Mostar as "Bosnia’s first World Heritage-listed city". Belgrade is praised as the "party capital of the Balkans [...] with riverboat party palaces, restaurants and nightclubs, plus a fine array of museums and galleries", while Zagreb is "great for strolls through plazas, parks and elegant streets."

 Books - Part 7 

posted by mh 18 years ago
A new volume entitled Sozialismus: Realitäten und Illusionen. Ethnologische Aspekte der sozialistischen Alltagskultur, edited by Klaus Roth and published by the Viennese Institute for European Ethnology, features two articles on Socialist architecture in Bulgaria: Die architektonischen Zeichen des Sozialismus - Entpersönlichung, Entfremdung, Gigantomanie by Margarita Harbova (pp. 41-48), and Der Plattenbau - Realität ohne Illusionen by Ivan Nikolov (pp. 31-40).

 Books - Part 6 

posted by mh 18 years ago
A publication that might have gone a little unnoticed for being published only in Bosnia, Mehmed Bublin's "Rehabilitacija Gradova BiH" [The Rehabilitation of Bosnian-Herzegovinian Cities] (2004), is now available at the online store of for the price of 10 euro. Bublin is also the author of The Cities of Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Millenium of Development and the Years of Urbicide (Sarajevo 1999).

 Books - Part 5 

posted by mh 18 years ago
I have recently reviewed Carmen Popescu's "Le Style National Roumain. Construire une Nation a travers l'Architecture" [The Romanian National Style. Constructing a nation through architecture] for Balkan Academic News. For the full text, click here (Balkan Academic News Book Review 16/2005) or here.

 Books - Part 4 

posted by maximilian hartmuth 18 years ago
The Biro for Culture and Communication Belgrade is announcing the publication of a bilingual (English/Serbian) book entitled Under the Bridge - Beograd: "People from ten different countries, together with their hosts from Belgrade, wandered and got to know the city. [...] The result is a collection of photos, drawings and texts on situations and places from the four days in December." An online version (PDF, 82p, 2mb) can be downloaded from here.

 Books - Part 3 

posted by maximilian hartmuth 18 years ago
The World Tourism Organization and the European Travel Commission have recently published a new joint study entitled City Tourism & Culture – The European Experience: "As cultural city tourism is a relatively “new” sector, the purpose of this study was to increase the knowledge on cultural city trips. Its main objective was to create a conceptual framework with a structural approach that can be broadly used in practical marketing and product development."

 Books - Part 2 

posted by maximilian hartmuth 18 years ago
For Balkan Academic News I have recently reviewed two new books dealing with Latin Catholics/Europeans in the cities of the late Ottoman Empire, namely Oliver Jens Schmitt's "Levantiner. Lebenswelten und Identitaeten einer ethnokonfessionellen Gruppe im osmanischen Reich im langen 19. Jahrhundert" and Sezim Sezer Darnault's "Latin Catholic Buildings in Istanbul. A Historical Perspective (1839-1923)". The full reviews are available online here.


posted by maximilian hartmuth 19 years ago
Claimed to be the "first Croatian book on the social history of leisure and consumer culture", the young Croatian Historian Igor Duda's study "U potrazi za blagostanjem. O povijesti dokolice i potrosackog drustva u Hrvatskoj 1950-ih i 1960-ih" (In Pursuit of Well-Being. On History of Leisure and Consumer Society in Croatia in the 1950s and 1960s) has been published in April 2005.


Welcome to [BalkanCities], a weblog established to serve a "community of interest" holding stake in a diverse but interconnected range of topics (Urban and Architectural History, Cultural Heritage, -Policy, -History, -Studies, Urban Life and -Development) related to the study of cities of Southeast Europe. Readers are encouraged to participate in this process, either through adding comments to existing postings or posting news to the editor, Maximilian Hartmuth. To subscribe to the notification service (a roughly monthly digest), send a blank email to this address.
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