JCJC - Jeunes chercheuses et jeunes chercheurs

Les Balkans par le bas. Reconfigurations locales et logiques individuelles depuis 1990 (Albanie, Bulgarie, Grèce) – BALKABAS

Submission summary

This project focuses on the changes at work in the Balkan societies since the end of the Cold War and geopolitical upheavals of the 1990's. It is based on the premise that most of the studies on this region hold a 'top-down' approach and focus on the systemic transformations in the societies of the region. The BALKABAS project proposes instead to adopt a "bottom-up" approach, which takes into account the local manifestations of these changes and their impact on the lives of individuals. This approach means rendering the experience of individuals and understanding the meaning they give to the events, discontinuities and actions by which they themselves are reacting to changes. The goal is less to produce an effet de réel or gather personal narratives than to show how the practices and attitudes of individual interact with processes that transcend individuals, because they have their origin at national, international or global levels. It is, in other words, to understand how individuals (or, more broadly, families or local communities) adjust their actions to changes in their social, economic or political environment, and in doing so impact on this environment. The project does not cover the entire Balkans, but focuses on its southern part. Due to the absence of violent conflicts in the 1990's Southern Balkans received less attention from researchers and public opinion alike. The three countries covered by the project, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece, share enough similarities and contrasts to be considered as an object of study in itself: apart from their common belonging to the post-Ottoman area and their common European destiny, these countries have experienced contrasting paths during the Cold War (Greece in the Western camp, Bulgaria into the orbit of the USSR and Albania isolated and locked up behind its borders). They now occupy different positions in relation to the European Union (Greece has been a member since 1981, Bulgaria's accession is recent (January 2007) and Albania is still at the beginning of the process leading to the accession). The three countries, however, form a relatively integrated human and economic whole, in part due to a significant labour migration from Albania and Bulgaria to Greece, as well as to the economic penetration of Greece in neighbouring countries. The transformations of the Balkan Peninsula are often interpreted in terms of "openness": opening of borders closed during the Cold War, opening of former communist countries to democratic pluralism and the free market, opening of Greece to Balkan immigration. The general assumption of the project is that the processes of opening, homogenisation and mobility are accompanied by opposing processes of closure, fragmentation and hindrance to mobility. A careful study of local configurations and individual practices shall allow shedding light on those closure processes and explaining them. An first working hypothesis - and a first line of research - is that we are witnessing in the three countries the emergence of new forms of belonging and relationship to territory, which go beyond traditional forms (particularly national and religious ones) from above, with the development of transnational or translocal networks, and from below, with the stress on locality, proximity and entre soi. The second working hypothesis is that these new forms of belonging articulate with processes of groups reproduction and social relationships in which individual trajectories and kinship relations play a decisive role. The project proposes to test these hypotheses by field surveys, conducted by young researchers familiar with the local configurations they study and fieldworks methods. The major part of the requested budget is devoted to the financing of these fieldwork missions. The peculiarity of the project residing in the confrontation and comparison of different fieldworks conducted by the joint team members, work meetings are essential. The other part of the requested budget will be devoted to these working sessions. The dissemination of the project's results will be done in particular through the participation in an international symposium held in Athens in 2011 and the publication of a collective book.

Project coordination

Gilles DE RAPPER (Organisme de recherche)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Help of the ANR 129,980 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 36 Months

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