Balkan counter-circulation

Internationalizing area studies from a periphery during the Cold War

Authored by: Bogdan C. Iacob

The Routledge Handbook of Transregional Studies

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138718364
eBook ISBN: 9780429438233
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter turns to the academic knowledge production about a world region – the Balkans – whose geographies and related narratives are often not self-evidently included in the list of area studies. However, the ‘imagining’ and the study of the Balkans provide fertile ground to demonstrate the transregional dimensions of area studies in multiple ways while further highlighting the extent and ways in which the emergence of area studies has been often related to questions about Europe and Europeanness (Todorova 1997). The history of Balkan studies during the Cold War, as a history of transregionalization and internationalization, reveals conflicting and critical narratives about ‘Europe’ and ‘its others’. The history also demonstrates the competing spatialities in which area studies emerge as well as which area studies they help produce. The Cold War narrative about the emergence of area studies becomes further complicated here, as Balkan studies did not, in the first place, emerge as an effort to ‘know the enemy’ but as a way of showcasing academic achievements as part of Cold War competition as well as of carving out internal differentiation in the two camps.

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