Balkan Worlds IV
The ‘Great Ideas’ of the Balkans (18th – 20th c.)

Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki November 29th – December 1st, 2018

The 4th International Conference of the Balkan Worlds which will be held on November 29th – December 1st, 2018 at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, Greece, will be dedicated to the “Great Ideas” of the Balkan national movements (18th-20th c.): from the Greek ‘Megali Idea’ and the Serbian ‘Načertaniye’, to the Great Bulgaria of San Stefano, different versions of Illyrianism and Yugoslavism, the unity visions of Romanian, Slav-Macedonian or Albanian nationalists, and even Zionism – as the latter was adopted or rejected in the form of a national ideology by Jewish communities in the Balkans – to the various permutations of the imperial ideologies of the Ottomans (Ottomanism, Pan-Islamism, Pan-Turkism) the Habsburgs or the Romanovs.

The Conference

But, how should ‘Great Idea’ be defined? ‘Great Ideas’ were initially irredentist visions of Balkan peoples in their effort to restore their “ancient” or the “medieval” glories in the territories of the Ottoman or Austrian Empire. Nonetheless, it would be a mistake to identify ‘Great Ideas’ solely with irredentism; ‘Great Ideas’ were the extreme boundaries of the national ‘imagined communities’, the way in which these communities had to redefine themselves in order to include or to exclude populations in or from the ‘national core’, to compete with the imperial (Ottoman or Austrian) model and lead to the latter’s demise, to communicate with European versions of pan-nationalist ideological movements, such as Pan-Germanism, or Pan-Slavism, and imperial ideologies of the Colonial and Continental Empires. Through different perceptions of race, ethnicity, or religion, these movements raised the question of tracing national differences via broader ideological formations. More specifically, the conference will include the following themes:

  • Imperial ‘Great Ideas’
  • Islamic‘Great Ideas’
  • Slavic ‘Great Ideas’
  • Greek ‘Great Ideas’
  • “Peripheral” Greek ‘Great Ideas’
  • Bulgarian ‘Great Ideas’
  • Yugoslavisms
  • Albanian and Romanian ‘Great Ideas’
  • Ottoman and Post-Ottoman ‘Great Ideas’

Scientific Committee


The Conference will be held by the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies and its Laboratory of History of the Eastern and Southeastern Europe in collaboration with Association Internationaled'Etudes du Sud-EstEuropeen. The members of the conference Scientific Committee will be:

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