The Balkans: Tragic Avant-Garde of Europe

Friday, May 1, 2020

The European Studies Council at the MacMillan Center, Yale University, presents a webinar by Dr. Mitja Velikonja, REEES Visiting Professor, on “The Balkans: Tragic Avant-Garde of Europe” hosted by Edyta Bojanowska, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Chair of the European Studies Council.

Europe today is facing similar socio-political challenges, tendencies and tensions as the Balkans thirty years ago. Similar are also – in my view – inappropriate measures and proposed solutions to them, so different from the solemn promises of politicians and even more from enthusiastic expectations of people at the beginning of the so-called “democratic transition” in the years 1989-1992. In this case, negative exceptionalism of the Balkans proved to be in fact anticipation of recent developments in Europe, such as separatisms, erecting new walls and sealing new borders, ethnic chauvinism, Islamophobia, refugee crises, civilizations clash and culture wars, destructiveness of neo-liberalism and financial capitalism in general, brain drain etc. Tragic fate of the Balkans in the nineties should serve as warning where un-reflected neo-liberal and ethno-nationalist politics can easily lead, with a catastrophic consequences.

About the speaker: Dr. Mitja Velikonja is currently a Visiting Professor at the REEES Program of the MacMillan Center. He is a Professor for Cultural Studies and head of Center for Cultural and Religious Studies at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Dr. Velikonja’s main areas of research include Central-European and Balkan political ideologies, subcultures and graffiti culture, collective memory and post-socialist nostalgia.