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Balkans Agenda Call 2014 : An Agenda for the Western Balkans


When Nov 4, 2013 - Feb 5, 2014
Where Athens, Greece
Abstract Registration Due Dec 15, 2013
Submission Deadline Feb 5, 2014
Notification Due Dec 12, 2013
Final Version Due Feb 5, 2014
Categories    balkans   eu policy   international relations   political science

Call For Papers

A Collective Volume on Western Balkans Politics & Society

Southeast Europe has diachronically been a favorite subject-matter for stereotypes and misreading. These stereotypes have played a role in separating the states from the core of Europe and have introduced a self-maintaining depiction of the region as “the Balkans”. Starting from Stavrianos and Jelavic and moving on to contemporary scholars such as Todorova, Mazower, and Bieber, certain students of the region have consistently worked on correcting misconceptions that are outlined as a primary cause of its grim status. Unfortunately, the bulk of both academia and policy-making have failed to look into the specificities of the countries and the region as a critical factor and an omnipresent intervening variable for Balkans’ politics and societies.

In recent years, following international developments and the necessities they created (either conceptual or practical), this image of “the Balkans” has started fading. Greece has been a member of the European Union and NATO for more than thirty years and has fully overcome the stereotype (though it has created new ones) while Slovenia was on the outskirts of “the Balkans” to begin with. Bulgaria and Romania are much more discussed and celebrated examples indicating the transition from the backward former Ottoman, former Communist East towards the “developed” West. They are currently stereotyped as dysfunctional parts of Western institutions rather than outsiders. Finally, Croatia was the first one of the conflicting parties during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s to access the EU institutions in July 2013.

Yet, there is still a piece of “the Balkans” perpetuating the stereotype. It is nowadays labeled Western Balkans; however, the images that come with this infamous brand name hardly differ. This new group of states (the former Yugoslavia plus Albania minus Slovenia and Croatia) is considered to belong in the less developed part of Europe that is currently denied access from West-centered institutions. Also, it is a region that is commonly identified with the conflicts in the 1990s that have sustained arguments about its inherent instability and backwardness.

Closing up on the second decade past the Dayton Agreement, almost 15 years after the end of the conflict in Kosovo, more than a decade from the Ohrid Framework Agreement in the FYR Macedonia and the Thessaloniki Summit, Western Balkans’ politics and societies are currently considerably different. The prospect of armed conflict is off the table, the countries’ economic transition has largely been concluded, and interethnic tolerance has increased. However, progress towards integration in Western institutions (with a couple of notable exceptions) has been minimal. This has deprived Western Balkan countries from a clear orientation to the future and has given power to forces of populism and nationalism, thus, obstructing sustainable advancement towards political stability, social cohesion, and economic growth.

This collective volume aims at evaluating the position and role of the Western Balkan countries in the contemporary interdependent and multi-polar international environment and at highlighting diverse potentials for the countries’ sustainable development. There are three thematic pillars aiming at encapsulating the process of transition from “the Balkans” to Southeast Europe: a. Political Transition and Political Conditionality - Institutional Change, Norm Adoption and Integration; b. the international position of the Western Balkans and the process of conflict resolution; c. contemporary social and cultural aspects of the Western Balkans.

We invite papers on one or more of the following topics:

A. Political Transition and Political Conditionality - Institutional Change, Norm Adoption and Integration.

- Conceptual patterns of external norm transposition. Whose standards?
- Ten years after the Thessaloniki Summit: Are Western Balkan countries closer or farther to integration?
- Asymmetry & Uncertainty: Measuring the effectiveness of EU’s political conditionality in the Western Balkan countries (formal vs. normative - Legal alignment vs. rule implementation).
- EU’s attractive power and the conclusion of Western Balkans’ political transition: Prospects and limitations.
- Patterns of corruption and the EU anti-corruption policy in the context of enlargement.
- Externally imposed conditionality in a globalized environment: Speeding or stalling social change?

B. The Process of post-Conflict Settlement and Reconciliation and the International Position of the Western Balkans

- Practices of conflict resolution: Studying the cases of the Western Balkans
- Causes of conflict and the promotion of peace in the region.
- New and old security challenges in the Western Balkans. Are they really there? What line of action do they call for?
- Center – periphery & the periphery of the periphery. What role for the Western Balkans in an enlarged EU?
- Regional cooperation as a counterweight to an uneven relationship with the “West”
- New-old players: Turkey’s and Russia’s political influence in the region
- China’s implication in the Western Balkans: The political role of an economic player.

C. Contemporary Social and Cultural Aspects of the Western Balkans

- Power elites in the Western Balkans, features and impact on the transition process.
- Level of elites’ discretion and normative/collective constraints.
- Social groupings and self-identification in Western Balkans’ societies.
- New modes of social mobilization and their application in the Western Balkans.
- European images of the Western Balkans. Western Balkans’ self-perceptions. European identity & EUdentity insights.
- The cultural influence of “the West” in the Western Balkans – lifestyle, arts, science.

Researchers, policy makers and practitioners are invited to contribute to this Collective volume.

Important Dates:
Abstracts’ submission deadline: December 15, 2013.
Notification of selected abstracts: December 20, 2013.
Deadline for papers’ submission: February 5, 2014.
Publication of papers: March 1, 2014 by the INTER ALIA Civic Action Meeting Point as a Collective volume on Western Balkans Politics & Society

The recommended length for abstracts is 500 words.
Successful abstracts will be selected through blind review.
Papers should be drafted in English and address a contemporary issue related to the region of the Western Balkans. Comparative approaches (across countries, time and disciplines) are encouraged.

Project Team:
Nikolaos Papakostas, Head of Analysis & Research Department, INTER ALIA
Nikolaos Pasamitros, PhD Candidate, Panteion University
Alba Cicala, PhD Candidate, University of Siena
Boyka Boneva, Research Associate, Institute for International Economic Relations, Athens

Send your abstracts by December 15, 2013 to

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