Interview with Alex Tipei, Spring 2017 REEEC Visiting Lecturer

alex%20tipei-copyI sat down with Alex Tipei over lunch and discussed her new visiting lecturer position at REEEC. This semester, Professor Tipei is teaching Introduction to Eastern Europe, REES 201, which is offered every spring. This isn’t her first time at the University of Illinois; Alex graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in French and History. Professor Tipei studied abroad in France during undergrad, which subsequently led her to return to France for two Master’s degrees, in Romanian Studies and European History. She also received a Fulbright to study in Bucharest, Romania. She returned to the United States for a PhD in history at the University of Indiana. Professor Tipei completed her PhD in 2016 with a dissertation titled: “For Your Civilization and Ours: Greece, Romania, and the Making of French Universalism.” Professor Tipei grew up in Champaign and is pleasantly surprised to find herself back in her hometown. “I never thought I would find myself teaching at the U of I. It is a thrill to now be teaching what I learned on this campus to new students. It allows me to go back to the beginning and see the introductory materials of the region from a different perspective.”

Professor Tipei is delighted to teach again. “The students in my class are engaged, interested, and love to learn about the region. I am able to give them materials that are central to the region and my research interests, and it is interesting to see how they respond to it. ” One text in particular that Professor Tipei is excited to teach this year is teaching Václav Havel’s The Power of the Powerless. “It really piqued my interest in Eastern Europe and helped shape my political view of the world. I’m really curious to see what it’ll be like to be on “the other side” of the classroom when we talk about it—the students’ reactions, if the essay still speaks to people largely born after the Cold War, what they make of a playwright turned dissident turned president.”

Professor Tipei’s research interests lie in this transitional nineteenth-century history, which connects France, modern day Greece and modern day Romania. “I’m interested in intellectual/political networks that transcend the national paradigm. My current research deals with the spread of a cluster of French inspired/supported modernization programs in early nineteenth-century Southeastern Europe.” Currently, Alex Tipei is working on a manuscript based on her dissertation. Using archival research, Professor Tipei links intellectual circles, organizations, and individuals across Europe’s 19th century. In her own words, “I try to rethink the center-periphery model in international history, take apart the notion of French “influence,” and question the inevitability of the rise of nationalism in peripheral regions like the Balkans. To do this, I consider interactions within this network—often aimed at facilitating educational, prison, and hospital reform—in terms of development programs and technology transfer.”

Madeline Artibee is a REEEC M.A. student.

Bosnian President Talks Politics, European Union Membership at University

This is a re-posting of an article from The Daily Illini. To view the original article, please click on the following link:


In an address at the University on Tuesday afternoon, the head of state of Bosnia-Herzegovina outlined the politics of his country and its pursuit of joining the European Union.

Bosnia-Herzegovina President Zeljko Komsic spoke of the political state of his country at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science on Tuesday. Negotiations regarding the Balkan state’s membership to the European Union are still ongoing.

Bosnia-Herzegovina President Zeljko Komsic spoke of the political state of his country at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science on Tuesday. Negotiations regarding the Balkan state’s membership to the European Union are still ongoing.

Chairman of the three-member Bosnian presidency Zeljko Komsic spoke at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science during a day-long stop in Champaign-Urbana. His remarks preceded a roundtable discussion, “Bosnians in the U.S.: Communities, Connections, and Homelands,” which was led by faculty and staff across several departments that study Bosnian culture and politics.

Sponsors included the Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Center; the European Union Center; the University library; and the Slavic languages and literatures department.

Komsic was at the U.N. General Assembly last week in New York, and he remained in the U.S. to travel to St. Louis, Chicago and other cities with large Bosnian communities. He stopped in Champaign-Urbana on his way from St. Louis to Chicago, where he will speak with the Bosnian community there.

His remarks coincide with a developing partnership between the University and BosTel, a Chicago-based Bosnian television station, said Judith Pintar, a visiting assistant professor of Slavic languages and literatures.

She said the partnership will lead to a Bosnian media archive in the International and Area Studies Library at the University. Because Chicago maintains a large Bosnian population, the University’s Slavic languages and literatures department hopes to build a relationship with the community there, she said.

Negotiations to admit the Balkan country into the European Union are at a stalemate because Bosnia-Herzegovina has not met certain political and economic conditions set by the union. According to a European Court of Human Rights ruling, the current constitution discriminates against minorities.

“There is no one way for Bosnia and Herzegovina to enter the European Union,” Komsic said through a translator.

He said the ethnic divides within the country present numerous challenges for governance, which is why Bosnia has not acceded to the European Union.

The three major ethnic groups of Bosnia — the Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats — remain segregated, which is why the presidency of the country includes one elected official from each group. The last census in the country took place over a decade ago, so the exact ethic composition of the country is not available.

In 1995, the country emerged from a three-year civil war, which began when Bosnia-Herzegovina declared independence in 1992 after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. The armed conflict, which crossed ethnic lines, ended after peace negotiations held in Dayton, Ohio.

Theodora Dragostinova’s Lecture “Between Home and Homeland: Migration and National Dilemmas across the Bulgarian-Greek Border in Early Twentieth Century”

On March 8th, REEEC in collaboration with the European Union Center hosted Dr. Theodora Dragostinova, Associate Professor of European History at Ohio State University and author of Between Two Motherlands: Nationality and Emigration Among the Greeks of Bulgaria, 1900-1949 (Cornell UP, 2011). Situating herself within a scholarly debate on whether the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 were the climax of “ethnic unmixing” in the region or not, Dragostinova explored the migration trends of the Greek minority in the early 20th century. Her purpose was  to see how the dynamics of political violence developed and how Bulgarian Greeks chose identities and homelands in the periods immediately preceding and following the wars. She looked, more specifically, at  the Bulgarian-Greek refugee movements that took place in the period between the signing of the Bulgarian-Greek Convention on Voluntary Migration in 1909 and the Turko-Greek confrontation of  1922-1923.

Prof. Dragostinova with Prof. A. Bryan Endres,  Director of the European Union Center

Prof. Dragostinova with Prof. A. Bryan Endres, Director of the European Union Center

The 1903 Iliden Uprising had triggered the influx of approx. 30,000 Macedonian refugees into Bulgaria, who with their anti-Greek sentiments and protests against the situation of Bulgarians in the Ottoman empire, unleashed violence against the Greek minority. While Bulgarian parties initially took advantage of this, Dragostinova argued that the violence against Greeks never became a grass-roots phenomena, most Bulgarians having condemned such treatment of the minority because it tarnished the country’s image in the international press and because many of them in fact considered the Greeks to be their co-nationals. Despite the absence of grass-roots violence, however, the pogroms and expropriations did trigger a large emigration wave in the process of which a quarter of Bulgarian Greeks fled to neighboring countries, especially to Greece. Although it would be tempting to call this “ethnic unmixing,” Dragostinova called for caution. Indeed, the Greek government had actively encouraged such a migration, among others, by giving Greeks the land of expropriated Muslims in Thessaly. Yet, the refugees in fact thought that the Greek state had failed to provide and therefore, they started to return to their “native places.” Since their sense of home was not associated with a Bulgarian or Greek nation-state, Dragostinova argued, their behavior and sense of identity cannot be properly described with the concept of “national indifference.” Rather, as she explained, it was a Greek ethnic identity that was intermixed with a sense of belonging to a more narrowly conceived homeland. In the second part of her lecture, Theodora Dragostinova spun the topic further by looking at Bulgarian Greek migrations in the aftermath of the signing of the Bulgarian Greek Convention (1919). As in the case of the minority’s reverse migration in the 1910s, Dragostinova’s figures showcased some surprising trends. Among these was the reluctance of Bulgarian Greeks to emigrate (up until the 1922-1923  Turko-Greek confrontations) even though under the supervision of the League of Nations the convention allowed voluntary migration and provided compensation for property left behind.

In light of this history of Bulgarian Greek reluctance to ethnically unmix, the Balkan wars seem an aberration rather than a climax, Dragostinova argued. In fact, her overall work shows that national identity remained in flux even in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire, as  both ethnic Bulgarians and members of the Greek minority continued to appreciate local solidarity and made pragmatic choices based on economic interest, family considerations or sometimes based on the wish to avoid conscription. Ultimately, her research also underscores the fact that the nation-states themselves stood in the way of national homogenization since, as the example of the Greek state shows, they were not able to absorb the populations they desired.

Zsuzsánna Magdó is a Ph.D. Candidate in History and the Outreach Assistant at the Russian, East European and Eurasian Center, University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

A reflection on Professor Buchanan’s lecture “Building EU Community through Bulgarian Mumming Festivals & Folkloric Practice”

I found the lecture “Building EU Community through Bulgarian Mumming Festivals” given by Professor Buchanan on November 30th to be both fascinating and informative.  An Associate Professor of Musicology, Professor Buchanan specializes in Bulgarian music and is also the founder of the Balkan Music Ensemble at the University of Illinois.

Discussing her travels in Bulgaria in March 2011, Professor Buchanan recalled her observations of  Bulgarian Mumming Festivals in some small towns. Dressed in elaborate costumes, the mummers wear bells, which can greatly vary in size.  I was struck by how complex and decorative traditional apparel is.  I am sure that a tremendous amount of time is invested in creating them. While music plays a central role in mumming practice,  Professor Buchanan stressed the importance of percussion.  Furthermore, an important aspect of these mumming festivals is that they focus on practices of warding off evil which can extend beyond the mummer’s actual dance and music to include bonfires. Additionally, Professor Buchanan discussed how these mumming festivals differed between the eastern and western parts of the country and can involve competitions with other mumming groups in different regions.

Attending this lecture introduced me to an aspect of Bulgarian culture of which I had previously been unaware.  I did not realize that these mumming festivals were such an important component of Bulgarian culture, or that such practices even existed.  It was interesting to see the strong role that folklore and traditional practice plays in modern Bulgaria.  I was surprised that these festivals have survived to the present day.  This suggests to me that tradition and making connections with the past is vital to Bulgarians.  Professor Buchanan’s lecture was an interesting experience, and it allowed me to understand the importance of music and rituals in today’s Bulgaria.

Ryan Eavenson is a first year MA student.  He is particularly interested in democratization, human rights, and European integration in the post-Soviet world.  His additional interests include Imperial and Soviet Russian history.  He received a AB in History/Russian and East European Studies from Lafayette College in 2010.  After completion of his MA, he hopes to find employment focusing on international affairs or continue his education.

2012 Fisher Forum

Political Spaces in Eurasia: Global Contexts, Local Outcomes

Writing in the aftermath of World War I, Winston Churchill declared that the Balkans had produced more history than they could consume. Today this observation still holds true, and may be extended to most of the post-communist countries of Eurasia, a region of which the Balkans have for so long been the geopolitical fulcrum. Our conference conceptualizes the continuities, fault lines, and interruptions in the region’s political, social, and cultural spaces. It will examine the state of the region from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including those of the social sciences, law, and the humanities, but always taking into account the behaviors and discursive practices of governments, parties, oppositions, and their leaders.

In particular, conference participants will look at the nation-specific electoral and cultural content of the spaces that are its subject while situating them in relation to key international developments such as globalization, the world financial crisis, and the rise of the Internet. In Eurasia, as elsewhere, politicians and their parties are in the business of selling hope to people, i.e., filling public and private spaces with promises that are a structured or ad hoc response to popular expectations. Aspirant or actual political actors aim to convince their constituents that they can provide national security, social stability, and economic growth, as well as protect and promote cultural/ethnic identity. To that end, they employ a variety of electoral and PR methodologies, many of them pioneered in the highly developed political marketplaces of Western Europe and North America, but adapted (sometimes mis-adapted) for local needs. The conference will address important public events, such as the growing protest movement in Russia and the March 2012 presidential election in that country. The self-presentation of political figures will be a topic of special interest, as will be the use and abuse of online media in the countries in question.


Levis Faculty Center

919 West Illinois Street, Urbana, IL 61801

Thursday, June 14

9.00-10.30 am     Panel #1. Chair: Andrzej Falkowski – Stronger Than We Hope, Weaker Than We Fear: Russia and Its Peripheries since March 2012

Richard Tempest (University of Illinois): “Putin’s Body Politic”

Greg Simons (Uppsala University, Sweden): “Stability and Change in Putin’s Political Image During the 2000 and 2012 Presidential Elections: Putin 1.0 and Putin 2.0?”

Sergey Markedonov (Center for Strategic and International Studies): “Democratization Processes in Eurasia’s De Facto States: Problems and Peculiarities”

10.30-10.45 am     Break

10.45 am-12.15 pm     Panel # 2. Chair: Joseph Ben-Ur  – Electoral Mechanics…

Cristian Andrei (Romanian Political Marketing Association): “Romania’s Total War, or How Political Marketing Strategies Work in a Democratic Process”

Lilia Raycheva (Sofia University, Bulgaria): “The Impact of Television in Bulgaria on the Electoral Process and Voting Behavior”

Ülle Toode (International University Audentes, Estonia): “The Use of Web 2.0 Applications by Estonian Political Candidates”

12.30-2.00 pm     Lunch (on own)

2.00-3.30 pm      Panel # 3. Chair: Cristian Andrei   …and Electoral Dynamics

Tiffany Winchester et al. (Deakin University, Australia), “Conceptualizing Usage In Voting Behavior for Political Marketing: An Application of Consumer Behavior”

Jólan Róka (Budapest College of Communication, Business & Arts), “Party Campaign Strategies in European and National Elections in Hungary”

Ieva Dmitricenko (University of Applied Sciences, Latvia), “Political Campaign Environments in Latvia”

3.30-3.45 pm     Break

4.00 pm     Keynote Address

Bruce Newman (DePaul University): “A Paradigm Shift in Global Politics: The Role of Political Marketing”

5.30 pm       Reception

Friday, June 15

8.30-10.00 am     Panel #4. Chair: Jólan Róka – Political Prospects and Perspectives in Eurasia

Wojciech Cwalina & Andrzej Falkowski (Warsaw School of Social Sciences & Humanities, Poland): “The Macro and Micro View of Political Marketing: The Evolving Democracies Perspective”

Volodymyr Chumachenko (University of Illinois): “Ukraine under Yanukovich: Implications for the Region”

Oana Dan (Harvard University): “Creating an EU-ropean Public: The Meaning of EU Citizenship in the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Europe”

10.00-10.15 am     Break

10.15-11.45 am     Panel #5. Chair: Richard Tempest – Continental Drift or Continental Convergence?

Francis Boyle (University of Illinois): “The Future of Bosnia and Herzegovina”

Wojciech Cwalina & Andrezj Fakowski: “A Political Message Ambiguity Management: An Implication for Candidate Positioning”

Joseph Ben-Ur (University of Houston-Victoria): “Social Political Networks: A Cross-Continental Comparison”


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Hewlett International Conference Grant

Center for Advanced Study

European Union Center

School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Department of Communication

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Center for Global Studies

Department of Sociology

Department of History

Department of Political Science

This conference is funded in part by the Department of Education Title VI grant for international area centers.

Turkish Transnational Television Symposium

Sixth Annual Turkish Studies Symposium

Turkish Transnational Television:

Reshaping of Diaspora Identities in Europe and the Rise of a Regional Cultural Hegemon

April 27

2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Levis Faculty Center (Music Room, 2nd Floor)

919 W Illinois, Urbana


Symposium Webpage

In a pronounced shift in foreign policy, Turkey now is playing a more independent, active and important role in the Middle East and displaying its reaction more prominently to a lack of European Union progress in offering Turkey full membership in the community. Politics and culture go hand in hand. The increasing influence Turkey is projecting through its foreign policy throughout the region has received significant attention in international media and academia. However, an equally important yet entirely new phenomenon—transnationalization of Turkish television—has not been fully addressed. More specifically, Turkish TV serials have emerged as significant instruments of foreign policy and cultural diplomacy. They also present a new way of creating connections to the Turkish diaspora in Europe and building a transnational Turkish public. These transformative developments warrant careful discussion.

Across Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, Turkish and Arabic speaking populations are tuning in to the numerous satellite channels that broadcast Turkish and Arabic-dubbed TV series and soap operas. This half-day symposium aims to understand the complex connections between media use, cultural belonging and worldviews. It will address the implications of the transnationalization of Turkish television for the Turkish and Arab immigrants’ experiences and identities in Europe as well as the increased popularity of Turkish TV series in regions from the Middle East to the Balkans to Central Asia.


Beyazit Akman, Illinois State University
Omar Al-Ghazzi, University of Pennsylvania
Myria Georgiou, London School of Economics
Dima Issa, University of Balamand, Beirut

Moderators/Commentators: Mahir Saul (University of Illinois), Ercan Balci (University of Illinois)

Reception to follow.

Organized by the European Union Center (EUC).
Co-sponsored by the Center for Global Studies (CGS); the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC); and the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (CSAMES).

Funded in part by an Institute of Turkish Studies grant.