The 16th European Meeting of Cultural Journals

The 16th European Meeting of Cultural Journals took place during the Belgrade International Book Fair, October 24-27, organized by Eurozine and its Serbian partners Belgrade Circle and Belgrade Women’s Studies Center. More than 40 editors and intellectuals from Europe’s leading cultural journals met with their counterparts from Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Slovenia and Macedonia to discuss and to exchange views during the conference entitled: Europe and the Balkans: Politics of Translation.

Translation touches upon political and cultural dimensions that concern not only the translations of languages but of cultural contexts between the Balkans and Europe.

Since the question of translation has become a politically and culturally crucial question, one can go on to argue that translation can be regarded as a central metaphor for some of the most pressing tasks confronting us at the beginning of the 21st century. Translation points at how different languages, different cultures, different political contexts, can be put together in such a way as to provide for mutual intelligibility but without having at the same time to sacrifice difference in the interest of a blind assimilation.

Translation, in this sense, is about the creation of new cultural and political maps, the establishment of shared territories and of points of articulation, the development of a border reason, as opposed to the simple acceptance of the reason of the borders. It is about the right to be different, whenever homogenisation would mean an offence, and the right to be equal, whenever the dwelling upon difference would be synonymous with oppression or with the prevalence of power politics.

On this basis, three conference panels aimed to discuss the specific problems of translation in the context of the Balkans and Europe. And yet, to talk about these two meant to demount the Western-centred stereotypical image of the Balkans, as well as the Eastern mechanism of self-orientalization first. Without an inquiry into what the Balkans stands for in the Western mind, the linguistic and cultural exchange between them will remain futile. Drawing on the recent book Balkan as Metaphor, the panel focussed on the way in which the concept of “the Balkans” is used to define attitudes towards issues such as nationalism and multiculturalism.

The panel “Cultures of Democracy” turned away from the historical misconceptualisations to assess the future political course of the Balkan states and their ties to the European Union. Current tensions revolve around what kind of framework the Balkan states will be based upon: Will the Balkan states exist as democratic nation states, or will the parameters of transnational democracy, as favoured by the International Community, prevail?

Speakers list:

Panel 1: Balkan as Metaphor

Alexsander Kiossev (Bulgaria)
Roger Conover (USA)
Prof. Ugo Vlaisavljevic (Bosnia and Hercegovina)
Prof. Tomislav Longinovic (USA)
Rastko Mocnik (Slovenia)
Obrad Savic (Serbia and Montenegro)
Moderator: Prof. Dusan Bjelic (USA)

Panel 2: Politics of Translation

Joy Sisley (Great Britain)
José Lambert (Belgium)
Jasmina Lukic (Serbia and Montenegro)
Moderator: António Sousa Ribeiro (Portugal)

Panel 3 Cultures of Democracy
Martin Mc Quillan (Great Britain)
Svetlana Slapsak (Slovenia)
Ugo Vlaisavljevic (Bosnia and Hercegovina)
Russell Jacoby (USA)
Dusan Bjelic (USA)
Moderators: Obrad Savic and Dasa Duhacek (Serbia and Montenegro)

Three of the contributions to the central book Balkan as Metaphor are available on Eurozine:

Alexander Kiossev
The dark intimacy: maps, identities, acts of identification (en)
Alexander Kiossev attempts a cognitive mapping of the multiple,fragmented Balkan identies. Who recognizes himself as Balkan and what customary practices are supposed to reveal a “Balkan communality”? To what extent have the Balkans been constructed as a negative mirrordiscourse to a European identity?

Vesna Goldsworthy
Invention and in(ter)vention: The rhetoric of Balkanization (en)
Vesna Goldsworthy looks at how Western commentators
romanticize the Balkans’ history of alleged bloodshed, feudal
hatreds and perpetual war. How can these myths be debunked?

Vesna Kesic
Muslim women, Croatian women Serbian women, Albanian women (en)
Media reports on the Balkan wars brought for the first time news of widespread rape-practices to the public’s attention. By disentangling the heady mix of nationalism, chauvinism, ethnicity and gender construction, Vesna Kesic asks however, how far we really have advanced in our attitudes towards rape and institutionalised violence against women.

Additional texts relating to the conference will be published shortly.

Published 5 November 2003
Original in English

© Eurozine


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