Dear Reader, welcome to the first issue of Contemporary Southeastern Europe! This peer-reviewed journal is published as an open-access academic journal, by the Centre for Southeast European Studies. We are firmly committed to the highest standards of academic publishing, including rigorous, double-blind, peer review and making research available, free of charge, to an interested audience. As subscription costs rise and many libraries have to save resources, we are committed to making high quality research available for researchers without cost.
Despite various attempts, the memory of persons who helped and rescued endangered persons “from the other side” during the breakup wars of Yugoslavia is rarely publicly acknowledged. There is, nevertheless, one exception: the case of Srđan Aleksić, a young Bosnian Serb who was killed while saving a Muslim acquaintance in Trebinje in January 1993. Since 2007, Srđan Aleksić has not only become publicly known, but his memory is also widely positively connoted in different countries and by groups of various political and ethnic backgrounds in the post-Yugoslav space. This article analyzes the emergence of this memory and the narratives around it, how fragile or strong the consensus which has emerged around his memory is, and what this memorialization indicates about the current memory culture in post-Yugoslav countries and its evolutions.
The Croatian Democratic Union (Hrvatska demokratska zajednica, HDZ) has won yet another election in Croatia. After the success it had on the European and presidential elections, the so-called „Patriotic Coalition“, led by the aforementioned party has won 59 out of 151 seats in the Parliament. Their opponents, a slightly-altered version of the current leading coalition led by the leftist Social Democratic Party (Socijaldemokratska partija Hrvatske, SDP), won 56 seats. However, the results are far from final. According to the Croatian Constitution, the party that would be given the mandate to form a government has to assure the support of 76 seats in the Parliament. So far, none of the new major parties has succeeded in that task.
Last year, Greece became the epicenter of attention not only for the newly elected SYRIZA government and the negotiations for a bail-out with creditors, but also for its role as the main border-crossing point for hundreds of thousands of refugees, coming from war zones in order to continue their journey towards central and northern Europe. The country, located ‘on the doorstep of Europe’, is on the frontline of Europe’s biggest immigration crisis since the Second World War. It is thus a ‘frontier’ state between European Union states and the various countries which refugees or immigrants leave to seek asylum and/or a viable livelihood elsewhere. Hundreds of people are attempting the short but dangerous crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands in unseaworthy, overcrowded vessels that often founder and capsize.
When the future or, more specifically, a redirection of South-East European studies is discussed in a series of essays in this journal, one has to have in mind that this is not the first discussion of this kind – and for sure not the concluding one. In an increasingly globalizing world, area studies are under permanent critical observation. What can particular findings related to an area contribute to the understanding of the whole, the global, and how is the global represented in the particularities of an area? However, this kind of critical self-reflection that can sometimes result in self-deprecation was not always the case in the long history of the study of South-East Europe.
Two recent books on Kosovo offer some compelling insights and answers as to why international state-builders stumbled in Kosovo: Elton Skendaj’s, Creating Kosovo: International Oversight and the Making of Ethical Institutions and Andrea Lorenzo Capussela’s State-Building in Kosovo: Democracy, Corruption and the EU in the Balkans. Both books are welcome additions to the growing discourse on state-building and touch on some of the more important themes that have recently dominated the literature, including the principle of local ownership, the limitations of technocratic approaches to state-building, and the dilemmas of political corruption and state capture in postwar societies.