Balkan Peninsula

posted by ush on 2008/08/13 13:33

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The following program of a roundtable to be held in Sofia is thematically linked to the topics discussed in the Digital Anthology Forbidden Words, turning towards the contamination and geopolitical implications of the term Balkanhalbinsel. The history of the term, its usages and misusages are discussed in connection with the historical and current (mis)usage of another geographical term, "Europe". Therefore, it the latter term should be analysed and revisited, as well, since it is not evident, why Non-Europe is meant to be insulting.

The Department for History of Byzantium and the Balkans at Faculty of History in University of Sofia "St. Kliment Ohridski" is prepraring a R o u n d T a b l e  with the following title and agenda: Two Hundred Years on the Road: The Term "Balkan Peninsula" (1808-2008).

In 1808 the German geographer Johann August Zeune suggested one of the European peninsulas to be named "Balkanhalbinsel". He did this in his work Gea. Versuch einer wissenschaftlichen Erdbeschreibung edited in Berlin. This term which at the beginning of the 19th century had an academic connotation only, was destined to follow an interesting
course in the next two hundred years, starting probably as a neutral geographical name, going through a stigmatization and eventually turning into a symbolic crossroad sign between "Europe" and "Non-Europe".

The bicentennial life of the term "Balkan peninsula / Balkanhalbinsel" reflects at the same time the quests, controversies and delusions characteristic of the mainstream "European history", and the conflicts – military and ideological – affecting the region in the past. The path of the term shows how historical events could be judged and how they should not be evaluated. It also reflects the deep marks left on our peninsula by the big empires, religions and ideologies.

The Round Table organized by the Department for History of Byzantium and the Balkans is devoted to these problems. The discussions of the below mentioned thematic circles will include historians, experts in political sciences, geographers, philologists, journalists and
politicians. They are intended to reach a better and more accurate understanding of elements of geographical and political language such as "The Balkans" and "The Balkan Peninsula". At the same time, the Round Table will contribute to the debate whether the term "Southeastern Europe" is a logical transformation of the peninsula's linguistic representation at the beginning of the 21st century and whether it is necessary to give to that region a terminological connection to the "general European history".

Thematic Circles of the Round Table

  1. History of the peninsula's names (terms, origins, authorship, context, etc.)
  2. The denomination "Balkans" – use and misuse in the 19th and 20th centuries
  3. "The Balkan Peninsula" or "Southeastern Europe"? A gaze into the past and a look into the future
  4. "The Balkans", "Southeastern Europe" and the contemporary media – terminological, thematic and contextual aspects

Time and Place: 11-12 December 2008 in the Central building of the University of Sofia. The participants will present papers (up to 15 min) connected to the proposed thematic framework or can be involved with short comments (up to 5 min) during the thematic discussions which are to follow each thematic panel.

The deadline for applications is 1 October 2008. Paper proposals (up to 500 words) should be sent to the following address:



Einblicke in Editor's Welt. Interessiert an Geisteswissenschaften, staunend über Medien, Tendenz zum Bizzarren, vor allem in der Literatur. Über Anregungen, Kritiken, Kommentare freuen sich Usha Reber ( und János Békési (
The workshop Balkan Studies - quo vadis? is held on April 25, 2009.

Venue: HS, Inst. Slawistik, AAKH / Campus
The programme is to be found here, the abstracts are available as Balkan Studies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and as pdf.
Ort: HS, IOG, AAKH, Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Wien
Zeit: 2. bis 4. April 2009
Veranstalter: IOG, Kk.rev
Funding: Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung, Köln

Programm, Abstracts (.pdf)
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