Europeanization, westernization and identity building in the western balkans (Second Annual Virtual International Conference at AAB College)
Organization: AAB College
Event: Second Annual Virtual International Conference at AAB College
The processes linked with the Europeanization of the western Balkans are often understood in terms of the post-socialist political, economic and societal transformations of the region following the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY: 1945-1991). Throughout its existence, the identity building politics of the socialist state converged around the philosophy of brotherhood and unity. This ideological principle was formulated as the foundational basis of Yugoslavia’s tolerant interethnic policies. As Detrez explains (1996, 1999, 2019), this philosophy cultivated the co-existence of a dualistic identity with adherence to the overarching socialist state one the one hand (the notion of ‘unity’) while maintaining allegiance to a distinctive ethno-national community on the other (the notion of ‘brotherhood’). The nationalist forces that violently reappeared in the 1980s ended the delicate civic-ethnic balance of Yugoslavia’s distinctive constellation and contributed to the dissolution of the Yugoslav unity based on the overarching cause of socialism. Subsequently, the nation-building efforts of the countries that emerged from the remnants of the Yugoslav state each held the promise of democratization, westernization and eventual EU accession. In a similar vein, the end of communist rule in Albania opened borders and paved the way for increased Europeanization.
It is at the intersection of nation-state building and aspirations for increased European integration that we situate the thematic focus of this conference. The post-socialist dynamics of state reconstruction have been multiplexed in the Balkans, often oscillating between deep-rooted national(ist) ideologies and integrative European trends (Kolsto 2014). Accordingly, matters of Europeanization, westernization and identity building will be considered from a broad-spectrum perspective that involves the scholarly insights of researchers from different academic and scientific domains. In this respect, the post-socialist transformation of the Southeast can be closely interlinked with the areas of economics rendering attentive focus on the struggles for economic growth and privatization in the post-socialist sphere. Likewise, policymaking and governmental administration as areas of academic research are also embedded in European notions of identity construction. Language ideology, policy and practice can similarly be discussed in the European context of civic inclusion (Demaj 2019). Another area of research includes architecture and the arts. Focus can be given to how different government instances have attempted at shedding public and cultural urban spaces from the socialist-style aesthetics connected with their Yugoslav past. Attempts to westernize the national image of the region by refurbishing the cityscapes with modern buildings and cultural objects is also a topic of interest, which can be examined from an architectural lens. The disciplines of Social Sciences, Humanities and Psychology can bring valuable research insights in areas relevant to interethnic harmony, reconciliation, as well as diversity and inclusion as a premise for enhancing principles in accordance with the Europeanization of civic life.
abstracts from different academic fields including:
- Language and (symbolic) identity building in different regions of the western balkans, standardization, nationalism and language, linguistic nationalism, the role of English in European integration.
- Economics: post-socialist transition of countries in the western balkans, privatization, etc.
- Public Administration and governance: identity building after the disintegration of Yugoslavia, processes of post-socialist state formation, nationalism, civic policy-making, etc.
- Law: Laws and regulations in post-socialist transition of the countries of the western Balkans, Constitutional amendments, etc.
- Architecture: post-socialist urban modernization politics, city-planning after socialism, European reorientation of architecture etc.