Balkan Traditions: Co-existence of Cultures, Religions and Languages


This research project is proposed by a team at the Faculty of Slavic Studies at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski in connection with the contest ‘Strategic Partnership in Higher Education in the Balkans and South-East Europe’ under the ‘Educational Policies’ programme of the Open Society Institute Foundation. Work on this project may commence thanks to the financial support of the Open Society Institute Foundation (agreement No. 228/25.X. 2004)

Project Team:

Prof. Petya Asenova – Project leader Assoc. Prof. Yovka Tisheva – coordinator, , Assoc. Prof. Vassilka Aleksova Assoc. Prof. Iskra Likomanova Assoc. Prof. Nichka Becheva Assist.Prof. Marina Dzhonova,

Duration of the project: one year – from Dec. 1, 2004 to Dec. 1, 2005

Balkan Traditions: Co-existence of Cultures, Religions and Languages is a project between teachers and students at the Faculty of Slavic Studies at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, and teams from several Balkan universities: Belgrade University (Serbia and Montenegro), Tirana University (Albania), The Institute of Linguistics in Albania, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini (Greece), Florina University (Greece), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), University of Bucharest (Romania). It aspires to popularise the specifics of Balkan culture and language within the higher education system. The main task of the project is to analyse the current tendencies in the fields of culture, religion and language in the Balkans; thanks to that to develop a programme for new academic courses in collaboration with experts from the partnering Balkan universities.

The fundamental aim of the project is to assist in enhancing partnership and exchange programmes between the Balkan universities and developing joint academic courses. These will be based on the project’s collection and analysis of data about the customs, beliefs and language in the regions with mixed population; about the perceptions the people of the Balkans have of themselves and their neighbours, and about the syncretism of different cults. A similar approach will allow a detailed registration and analysis of the arising cultural and linguistic tendencies by accentuating the current processes in the region. This will enable us to compare the cultural identities of all national and ethnic communities in a European and Balkan context.

Main goals :

  • Build an active international network of Balkan studies experts
  • Collect empirical material: audio-visual recordings, pictures etc.; publish material in a digest/reader and on the Internet
  • Analyse the occurrence of the universal semiotic opposition ours/theirs in the Balkans; the perception of Homo Balcanicus and the non-Balkan – Europe; the neighbours: one Balkan individual as opposed to the others; self-identification through the other
  • Investigate the syncretism of cults: paganism and Orthodoxy (nestinarstvo, lower demonology, pagan gods, hero-saints); Christianity and Islam
  • Investigate to what degree calendar rites and life cycle customs have been preserved;
  • Present the common linguistic features of Bulgarian, Romanian, Greek, Albanian and Serbian languages ( the so called Balkanisms)
  • Popularise the materials through:
  • processing and publication of the collected data and theoretic material
  • publication of the collected database on the Internet
  • concluding conference
  • open lectures in the partnership universities from Balkan countries
  • introduction of new courses at the Faculty of Slavic Studies

The project’s target groups :

  • students – Bachelors, Masters and PhD students from Sofia University and the partnering universities in Bulgaria and other Balkan countries, and by way of the Internet – all students interested in the issues of culture, history, languages and religions in the Balkans.
  • Teachers in the humanities/arts at higher schools in Bulgaria and the Balkans.
  • Bulgarian and international specialists in the field of Balkan studies
  • The Internet and envisioned future distant learning will provide the citizens of united Europe access to the results of the scientific research and to the university courses in Balkan studies research.

Expected results:

  • Creation of a network of Balkan studies experts and enhancement of the region’s academic partnerships in the field of humanitarian and social sciences through existing agreements between institutions of higher education. Promotion of the academic exchange of teachers and students between Balkan universities
  • Popularise the specifics of the Balkan cultures by loosening its strictly philological, historical or culturological profile. Outline the unique place of the Balkans in the European cultural environment.
  • Enrich the database on Balkan studies analyses with materials on the contemporary linguistic and cultural interrelations at a regional level. Introduction of modern teaching methods and technologies with the aid of audio and video material in lecture courses.

Stimulation of student activity and mobility through teamwork between students and teachers from the partnering universities, something which is the basis for lasting scientific co-operation in the future; through the participation of student teams from Bulgaria and from three of the partnering countries (Greece, Albania and Serbia and Montenegro) in the preparation of the questionnaires and the selection of the empirical material, thereby being involved in the modernisation of teaching programmes and the development of a programme for new courses based on the processed empirical material.


The Faculty of Slavic Studies at Sofia University and the team of the project “ Balkan Traditions: Co-existence of Cultures, Religions and Languages ” are pleased to announce

November 4-6, 2005 at Sofia University


The topics of the talks should to be in one of the following fields:Balkan Linguistics, Language contacts, Ethnology, and Anthropology, and can be given in any Balkan language, English, French or Russian.

Abstracts are invited for a 20-minute talk (a 15-minute presentation plus a 5-minute discussion) Deadline for submission of abstracts is June 30, 2005

HOW TO SUBMIT ABSTRACTS: Abstracts should be no longer than one page (an additional page for references, figures and data can be also included). Abstracts can be sent by email attached as a *pdf* or *rtf* file. Abstracts can also be sent by regular mail.

Please include in your submission an additional page containing the following information:

(1) title of paper;
(2) your name;
(3) complete postal address and affiliation (or home address, if necessary);
(4) telephone and fax numbers;
(5) email address.

Authors whose abstracts are accepted will be notified by July, 20, 2005.

Organizing Committee : Petya Asenova, Yovka Tisheva, Vassilka Aleksova, Iskra Likomanova, Nichka Becheva, Marina Dzhonova

Postal address: Faculty of Slavic Studies, Sofia University, 15 Tzar Osvoboditel Blv., 1504 Sofia, Bulgaria

Those interested in attending the conference are invited to register their e-mail and/or postal addresses at the conference address above.


For further information, please visit our homepage:

Please, distribute this information to other people who could be interested to participate.


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