Homepage » Programme Syllabus » Interconnected Histories: The Balkans and the Black Sea from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century




INSTRUCTOR: Nassia Yakovaki, Assistant Professor of Social and Political History, University of Athens

This course is designed to introduce students to modern and contemporary South-eastern European history, yet from an unexpected perspective, that of theBlack Sea. The main objective of the course is still to understand the broad historical trends that have shaped the specific developments in the Balkans from the early 18th century to the post-war period of the 20th century and eventually transformed its lands from imperial provinces to national territories and its population from Ottomans into Europeans.

The structure of the course is chronological. The impact of the Black Sea, both as a natural bridge and as the bone of contention between two powerful empires, which opened its ports and hinterlands to international trade (and emigration), on the historical formation of south-eastern Europe as a distinct region (i.e. the Balkan peninsula) will be assessed in various circumstances, which extend from the Russo-Ottoman wars of the 18th century, or the Crimean War of the 19th to the October Revolution and the Cold War of the 20th century.

The specific conditions and processes of nation formation and nation-state building in this predominantly agrarian yet geopolitically strategic region will be discussed in a twofold context: that of empire disintegration plus reform as well as great power rivalry. Special attention will be given to a discussion of the history of the region within the context of general European history. What is specifically “Balkan” in Balkan developments is an essential part of the questions under examination.

Such an approach corresponds to the recent quest of historians to seek novel ways to analyse developments on a global rather than a simply regional scale; in particular, it is inspired by the concept of interconnectedness that has entered the agenda of historians concerned with the period of ‘the long 19th century’ as ‘the birth of the modern world’.

Through selected readings, the students will be exposed to (and asked to present in class) an extended corpus of studies that combines Ottoman, Russian, Balkan, and European historiography. Student assessment is based on class participation (including one oral presentation and two short written assignments), a mid-term test, and the final exam.