Archive for the ‘People’ Category

A Memorial in Hungary

Monday, December 17th, 2007

This post is about a memorial dedicated to WWI veterans in Dunapataj, Hungary. While I was there a few weeks ago, I wrote some notes about it and copied down its inscription, with the intention of commenting on it in the blog.  I realize that it is a little late to post, but I promised myself at the beginning of the semester I would write something that involves translating Hungarian. This is my last chance, so here goes. (more…)

The Balkans After the Cold War

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Beth Gryczewski

Gallagher, Tom. The Balkans After the Cold War:  From Tyranny to Tragedy. New York:  Routledge, 2003.

In contrast to the Lampe book, Yugoslavia as History: Twice There was A Country, where Lampe tends to lean towards the belief that the breakup of Yugoslavia was inevitable, and tends to blame outsiders for imposing their will on Yugoslavia, (AND, ultimately for the disastrous and bloody breakup of the country), Tom Gallagher, in The Balkans After the Cold War, asserts that the disaster in Yugoslavia was purely the fault of insiders (2). “Yugoslavia unravelled as a functioning entity between 1985 and 1991 largely as a result of decisions taken by internal political actors, not as a result of unfriendly external actions” (2). 


Bosnia: A Short History

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

Bosnia: A Short History by Noel Malcolm

Noel Malcolm’s work Bosnia: A Short History is a brief, yet expansive, history of the Eastern European country, inextricably linked with the devastation in the former Yugoslavia. However, Malcolm approaches the region from a much different perspective than many of his contemporary scholars. Malcolm perceives the region not as an inevitable cauldron of political instability and violence, rather as one that was plunged into violence, counter to most of it history. Malcolm’s observations are comprehensive, drawing on all sorts of academic disciplines, like archaeology, to demonstrate his thesis. Ultimately, Malcolm concludes the aggression evident in the region is NOT a result of “ancient, tribal loyalties” but rather as a result of pre-meditated Serbian propaganda and aggression. (more…)

My Trip to Hungary

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

                I’m writing this blog post about my trip to Hungary about a month ago. I wish I could say that I was on vacation, but I went for a funeral. Still, I noticed a few things there that relate to our class, so I thought I would write about them in the blog. First, I should give a little background.

                I stayed in a small town Dunapataj (pronounced with a y-sound at the end, not with a hard j-sound) in the south of Hungary. I should also mention Ordas (pronounced Ordush, with a sh-sound at the end), which is next door. They have grown together. I have family and friends in both, with my grandparents’ house in Dunapataj. The topics that follow have to do with both towns, their inhabitants, and small town life in Eastern Europe, which fascinates me. (more…)

Yugoslavia: a violent cauldron?

Friday, November 30th, 2007
  1. After your reading this week, do you think that Yugoslavia’s breakup was imminent?  Why or why not?  

  2. Do you think Yugoslavia was prone to violence?  Why or why not? 

Here is the intro to my last essay: My last essay focused on the image of Yugoslavia as a politically diverse nation that made it unique among its neighbors in the Balkans, from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present.  Yugoslavia often experienced a different course of events compared to its eastern central European neighbors in World War One, the interwar years, World War Two, the Soviet period, and even after the fall of the Soviet Union.  Some historians are apt to explain this historical uniqueness in universalist or even relativist terms.  Still others have explained Yugoslavia’s history in narratives that succumb to what Sabrina Ramet calls ‘the myth of ancient hatreds’: Noel Malcolm, Mitja Velikonja, Robert Kaplan, Milovan Djilas, and CIA analysts among them. (more…)

A Carnival of Revolution

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

A Carnival of Revolution

By Padraic Kenney


            In most of the books that we have read this semester we are given an analysis of revolutions, uprisings, tear-downs and revolts that have focused on those in charge and those with supposed power. The leaders and their governments are usually key players, each book tends to highlight the big names and the big events. Such is not the case with Carnival of Revolution By Padraic Kenney. This book focuses on smaller unpronounced groups and on some occasion’s individuals. Padraic Kenney seeks to look at the nonconformist groups and their sometimes unconventional means of revolution. (more…)

Rocking the State

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Ramet, Sabrina Petra ed. Rocking the State: Rock Music and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994.

In Rocking the State, Sabrina Ramet compiles a comprehensive account of the socio-political effects of music in the last several decades of communist rule in the Eastern Bloc (with the exception of Albania and Romania which had no political music scene to speak of) and the Soviet Union.  The essays in Rocking the State revolve around the conflicts between proponents of a non-official youth culture and the cultural-commissars of the communist states.  Rocking the State is an appropriate follow up to A Carnival of Revolution as they both center on the destabilizing effects of youth-movements on their respective regimes.  Ramet and her contributors take their analysis of the youth driven musical movements further than the introduction provided by Kenney, addressing the trajectory of music through the eighties into the early nineties from an unofficial catalyst for political and social change into the arena of commodity rock.  Alex Kan and Nick Hayes clearly resent this metamorphosis asking: “Does anybody care if Poles can Rock and Roll with the best of Michael Bolton?” (53) (more…)

Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation

By Laura Silber and Allan Little

“We wrote this book to shed light on the decisions which led to the horror and destruction. It is an attempt to identify, clinically and dispassionately, the crucial events, the secret meetings, in both the lead up to war and in its progress once the fighting had started.” [1] Such begins the introduction to Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation by Laura Silber and Allan Little. This books sets out to offer to the reader a detailed description of how the breakdown of Yugoslavia came about and a explanation of the war in Bosnia. The books tries to go year to year, from event to event, allowing us to draw comprehension and also to be able to focus on parallels and patterns. (more…)

Post on Glenny’s, The Fall of Yugoslavia

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Misha Glenny, The Fall of Yugoslavia: Third Balkan War, 3rd ed. (United States: Penguin Books, 1996), p. 33.

Misha Glenny’s The Fall of Yugoslavia is a highly engaging, yet tragic account of the armed conflict that occurred in Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Glenny discusses the role that nationalism played in causing the conflict. The focus of the book is on the time period roughly between the years of 1990-1993. During this period, relations between people became tense, which led to a senseless, bloody war that took the lives of many Serbians, Croatians, and Albanian Moslems. (more…)

A Carnival Atmosphere

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

A Carnival of Revolution by Padraic Kenney

            Padraic Kenney’s work, A Carnival of Revolution, challenges some of the long-held beliefs about the fall of Communism in 1989. Approaching the collapse of Communism from an almost personal perspective of those taking part, Kenney argues that the fall of Communism was really not the surprising, spontaneous implosion sparked by outside forces. Nor was there truly a lack of political subversion and counterculture in those Eastern European countries, like Czechoslovakia, that seemed to suddenly erupt in revolutionary verve. What Kenney argues is that, in fact, the ideological underpinnings of these revolutionary movements had actually been long nurtured in the crumbling political societies of these communist countries. Additionally, the primary actors in this drama were not, as traditionally argued the intelligentsia, but more of a grass roots, personal movement that slowly came to realize the Soviet governments were not pushing back as vigorously as they once had. Steadily emboldened by this realization, common people created fertile ground for the revolutionary “end-games” that were about to unfold. (more…)