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Macedonia - Macedonias? Changing Contexts in the Changing Balkans
London, June 2001

Changing Contexts in the Changing Balkans

Conference organised by the Centre for South-East European Studies at the
School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London on
the 15 & 16 June 2001

Call for proposals for papers

During the last decade of the twentieth century the term "Macedonian
Question" once more entered the public discourse. In a number of books
authors returned to the idea of the "Question", sometimes viewing it in
its more traditional guise as an issue of territory and
self-determination, at other times trying to place it within a wider
European political context or within more general debates over identity
politics. At all times, however, the centrality of politicised ethnic
identities has been maintained. The convenors of this interdisciplinary
conference wish to move beyond this analysis, adopting a comparative
approach to consider the full range of recent political, economic, social
and cultural developments both within the wider region of Macedonia as a
whole, as well as in the newly created Macedonian state, suggesting that
the existence of a "Question" might itself be beneficially questioned. The
aim of the conference is to foster a better understanding of all aspects
of the region and in the process to address the question implicit within
the conference title:  whether different interpretations of Macedonia and
Macedonian-ness can exist in harmony and mutual acceptance.

Certainly the popular image of Macedonia does tend to be one of a
chronically unstable region, perhaps understandably so over latter years,
as talk often turned to speculation about conflict amidst internal ethnic
discord and external economic blockade. Greece objected to the Yugoslav
republic of Macedonia gaining international recognition as an independent
state under the name of Macedonia - the situation only being temporarily
resolved with the provisional adoption by the UN of the name Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - while Bulgaria for a time also questioned
the existence of a distinct Macedonian language. Indeed, the risk of
conflict elsewhere in the former-Yugoslavia spilling over into the new
state was seen as so great that the UN acceded for the first time to a
request for the stationing of a preventative deployment force. For ten
years the region has been regularly described as a "powder keg" ready to
explode. And, given the myriad of security and other problems which
persist after the Kosovo conflict, with the recent political changes in
Yugoslavia, the continuing uncertain status of Kosovo nurturing worries of
wider nationalist Albanian aspirations in the region, the weakness of
state functions in Albania and an ongoing processes of reform in Bulgaria,
such concerns are, perhaps, understandable.

And yet, an alternative view can also be taken. For all the dire warnings
and fears of spillover the fact remains that of all the Yugoslav republics
only the Macedonian has, so far, disassociated itself from the
former-Yugoslavia without conflict. Despite the often fierce polemics and
talk of war, the wider Macedonian region has also remained peaceful
throughout this period. The new state has undergone what has been judged
to be a relatively successful process of democratisation, sustaining the
peaceful transfer of power after elections. It has also instituted an
economic reform programme which is seeing growing privatisation and at
last, after a number of difficult years, the first signs of sustained
economic growth. Regional diplomatic initiatives, including the October
2000 Balkan head of states meeting in Skopje and growing cross-border
investment, are also making it possible to talk of the construction of a
new sustainable security regime in South-Eastern Europe.

In framing this call for papers the conference organisers recognise that
this region remains crucial to the future security of the Balkans but also
that the issue, often popularly presented as the "Macedonian Question",
has many facets beyond the familiar political perspective sketched above.
To this end they welcome papers on all Macedonian issues both within the
context of the new state and the wider region, with comparative approaches
being particularly welcome. We expect proposals for papers on security,
democratisation, economic reform, ethnic relations, minorities and
language but we would also hope to receive others on less familiar topics,
such as gender, local perspectives and social and cultural change.

The conference, which is the third of the annual international conferences
in South-East European Studies organised by the Centre for South-East
European Studies, will be held on the 15-16 June 2001 at the School of
Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. The
organisers are particularly keen in attracting the widest possible
participation from academics, policy makers, and the media, and invite
proposals for papers of no more than 150 words. The deadline for proposals
is 16 March 2001.

The proceedings of the conference will be published in book form.
Participants are asked to prepare their contributions for advanced
distribution (both electronic and hard copy). Participants will have 20
minutes to deliver their papers; discussion will follow. The selection of
papers will be the responsibility of the conference board. The conference
language is English.  Limited funding may be available for travel and
accommodation with priority given to scholars coming from the Balkans.

For further information please contact the conference convenors: Zhidas
Daskalovski, Vesna Popovski, Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Peter
Siani-Davies and Stefan Troebst by email at or visit
the website of the Centre for South-East European Studies at