The EU’s enlargement toward the east was conceived, among other reasons, on the basis that it would promote the consolidation of democracy in candidate countries. The success of the eastern enlargement gave further backing to the expansion of the EU toward the Western Balkans. Yet unlike their Central European counterparts, the Western Balkans had to undergo their transitions to democracy truly from, what Claus Offe has called, a triple perspective. The Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s developed simultaneously with the region’s transitions to democracy. This not only interrupted the transitions to democracy in the region, but also set hard obstacles for ethnic reconciliation and democratic consolidation thereafter.
This three-year project aims at building a consortium of higher education institutions, civil society organizations and research institutions with the purpose of delving into the question of why the EU’s democracy promotion policies have failed to encourage reconciliation in the Western Balkans. In other words, are the EU’s inclusiveness policies able to root out democratic values such as tolerance and diversity in the Western Balkans, in addition to democratic procedures?
In order to address the stated question, this network will undertake a number of activities with a multinational dimension in different locations among partner countries:
- First and foremost, this project will design a highly contextualized undergraduate course titled Democratization and Reconciliation. The course will have a multidimensional character in the sense that it will adopt a mixed methodological teaching approach in which a number of lecturers taking part in this network will teach a number of modules (either online or through study visits).
- Second, two international conferences with a focus on our research question will be organized in year two and year three of the project.
- Complementary to the conferences will be three summer schools organize annually. Whereas the conferences will focus on academia, the summer schools will focus on the younger population, primarily college students and civil society activists.
- Lastly, the project will also put together a video library with the theme “Towards the Politics of Serbian-Albanian Friendship”.
In addition to the above activities, the project will contain a research component as well. The conference proceedings will be published through the project website, and the selection of the best papers will be printed either in an edited volume or special journal issue. Furthermore, all network participants will work toward the common research project of producing a collection of essays as well as a college textbook on Ethnic conflict, Democratization and Reconciliation.
The common research project will be accomplished through Study visits. The study visits will pursue two tasks: one, they will be used as opportunities for network participants to contribute in teaching their respective modules envisioned in the specialized university course described above; and two, study visits will be utilized to organize workshops in which our common research project is discussed.
While most of the activities envisioned by this proposal are focused at the academic level, in order to make this project as dynamic as possible and have the widest possible impact, dissemination of project outcomes will take place at the high school level. In order to accomplish this goal, we indent to organizer several small-scale activities that will move among the partner countries. The envisioned activities will consist of thematic exhibitions created by high school students and will be presented in various high schools or local galleries located in the partner countries.
Overall, this project aims at using a diversified set of activities, a diversified set of actors, and a diversified set of implementation and dissemination strategies in order to maximise output, impact and success.
Project partners: University of New York Tirana (Albania), Institute for Central Eastern and Balkan Europe (Italy), University of Dubrovnik (Croatia), Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and European Movement in Serbia.
Project duration: December 2017 – 31 August 2020
The project is supported by the European Commission (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency) – grant to support the Jean Monnet Activities within the Erasmus+ Programme.
- International Winter School in Cesenatico (Cesenatico), organized by the Institute for Central-Eastern and Balkan Europe (Italy), December 12-19, 2018.
- International Conference “Democratization and Ethnic Reconciliation: Theoretical Challenges and the Role of European Integration”, organized by the New York University in Tirana, November 2-3, 2018.
- Study Visit # 1: New York University of Tirana, 8-9. December 2017 – The initial meeting of the project partners was held on December 8-9, 2017 at New York University in Tirana.On December 8-9, 2017 the project partners met at the University of New York Tirana for a kick-off meeting. At this first of nine study visits the partners discussed important financial considerations, began the preparatory phase for some of the upcoming project activities as well as set dates for such activities. Among the most important upcoming activities are the International Summer School to be hosted by the Institute for Central-Eastern and Balkan Europe during the first week of the next September (September 16-23, 2018) as well as the first International Conference to be hosted by the University of New York Tirana on November 2-3, 2018. The calls for applications are expected to go out during May of 2018.In this first of the nine foreseen study visits, the partners discussed important financial issues, a preparatory phase for some of the upcoming project activities was started, and dates for these activities were set.
- International Winter School Cesenatico, Italy, December 12-19, 2018
- Call for Papers “Democratization and Ethnic Reconciliation: Theoretical Challenges and the Role of European Integration”, Tirana, November 2-3, 2018