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Conference Event

30th Anniversary of the Transition to Democracy and Market Economy in Albania

The Society sponsored a roundtable at the annual convention of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, on Saturday, November 7, 4:00 to 5:30pm. Details of the roundtable and the speakers are below:

Speakers:

Chair: Nicholas C. Pano, Western Illinois University
Participants:

Ines Murzaku, Seton Hall University
Nicholas C. Pano, Western Illinois University
Elton Skendaj, Manchester University

Anti-communist protesters in Albania in December 1990 asked for political and economic reform in the ideologically rigid, authoritarian country. Just like other Eastern European countries, Albania embarked on social transformations toward democracy, market economy, and open society. Our presenters will reflect on that journey in the past 30 years. Nick Pano will situate the transition in historical context. Elton Skendaj will focus on the political challenges to rule of law implementation. Ines Murzaku will present on the transformation in the expression of Albanian religions after postcommunist Albania stopped repressing religious freedoms.

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Announcements Event

Annual Meeting, Virtually

The Society for Albanian Studies held its annual meeting online on November 7, 2020, as part of the annual convention of the The Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies. We welcomed new members and the President provided a report on the state of the Society as well as plans for the following year.

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Announcements Prizes

2020 Book & Graduate Paper Prizes

The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2020 Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is awarded to Dr. Smoki Musaraj (Ohio University) for Tales from Albarado: Ponzi Logics of Accumulation in Postsocialist Albania (Cornell University Press, 2020).

Tales from Albarado – Albarado elides Albania and El Dorado – describes a key moment in modern Albanian history: the rise and fall of the so-called ‘pyramid firms’ of the 1990s, when 1.5 million investors lost upwards of $1 billion to a dozen different, sprawling Ponzi schemes. This financial collapse led in 1997-1998 to a near-civil war and set Albania’s new, capitalist economy back a decade, or more. Employing economic-anthropological theoretical frameworks and based on both archival-documentary and ethnographic data, Musaraj concludes that the Albanian pyramid phenomenon was not a result of illogical economic behavior, i.e. a hysteria; rather, such phenomena – and the growth and bursting of financial ‘bubbles’ generally – are predictable outcomes of fast-moving, liberalized economies that allow and encourage multiple capitalist (‘official,’ ‘embedded’) and non-capitalist (‘kin-based’, ‘non-embedded’) wealth-generating strategies. In fact, Musaraj’s detailed description and analysis of Albania’s post-socialist economy blurs these various dichotomies and demonstrates that traditional economic approaches, which depend on various neo-liberal assumptions, such as rational action, and do not consider socio-cultural contexts, are misguided at best, and potentially tragic at worst. Tales from Albarado will for this reason have impacts that reach well beyond Albanian Studies into many diverse academic fields, including anthropology, economics, and history, and should be read by policy makers as well. The SAS is proud, therefore, to award the Skendi Book Prize to Dr. Smoki Musaraj and hopes her fine book will be very widely read and her warnings about the unintended consequences of capitalism carefully considered.

Tales from Albarado will for this reason have impacts that reach well beyond Albanian Studies into many diverse academic fields, including anthropology, economics, and history, and should be read by policy makers as well.


The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2020 Arshi Pipa Best Graduate Student Award is Arbër Jashari for his study entitled “Tradition, Affect, Ethics: A View of Kosova’s Movement of Non-violent Resistance in the 1990s.”

Jashari’s study employs an anthropological perspective to analyze the processes that enabled and sustained the movement of non-violent resistance in Kosova during the 1990s. The 2020 Prize Committee praised the originality and depth of Jashari’s research, which makes a novel and strong argument for the non-violent movement’s basis in traditional knowledge, customs, and ethics.

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Uncategorized

Call for Applications – Pipa Paper Award


Graduate students are invited to participate in the Arshi Pipa Best Graduate Student Paper Award sponsored by the Society for Albanian Studies (SAS). Albanian Studies is broadly defined to include original work that furthers our understanding of Albanian societies across geo-political borders, time periods, and disciplinary confines. The Arshi Pipa Best Graduate Student Paper Award shall recognize significant and important original research made by a Graduate Student Member that advances the field of Albanian Studies regardless of academic discipline, and the student’s prospects for ongoing future contributions to Albanian Studies.

Nominations for the Best Graduate Student Paper Award must be made to the SAS Graduate Award Committee. Please email a copy of paper to the committee by August 31, 2020.

The Award Committee:

  1. Pëllumb Kelmendi, Auburn University
  2. Eneos Çarka, University College London
  3. Suzana Vuljevic, Columbia University

Eligibility:

  1. The author of the paper must be a Graduate Student Member of the SAS at the time of nomination.
  2. The paper must have been written no more than two years before the paper’s nomination, and must be in English.
  3. Graduate student papers that have been co-authored with professors are not eligible.
  4. Papers from any academic discipline in the social sciences and humanities are accepted, insofar as they make a contribution to Albanian Studies, broadly defined.

Application Process:

  1. The deadline for nominations is August 31, 2020.
  2. To complete the nomination, e-mail a copy of the nominated paper (in MS Word or PDF format) to the committee.
  3. Nominations can be made by any member in good standing and self-nominations shall also be accepted.
  4. The Graduate Essay Award Committee will make the selection and notify the recipient of the award by the end of October, 2020.

The Award will be formally presented at the Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Washington D.C, in November 2020.

Any questions about the Prize or the application process can be addressed to the Graduate Essay Prize Committee.

Categories
Announcements Prizes

Call for Applications – Skendi Book Prize

The Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is presented every year to the best book making a contribution to, and advancing research in Albanian Studies. Albanian Studies is a broadly defined field of study which includes original-scholarly work which furthers understanding of Albanian societies across geo-political borders, time periods, and disciplinary confines. The Prize committee will consider single-case studies, original research, comparative research, and any theoretical and empirical contributions pertinent to the area of Albanian Studies. Nominated books must be in English. They must have been published within three years prior to the year of the award. Books may be nominated by the author or other scholars.

To nominate a book please send an email to Dr. Michael Galaty, Chair of Albanian Book Prize Committee indicating the name of the author and the title of the book nominated. Note that author nominees must be members of the SAS at the time of the book’s nomination.

Please include the following documents: 1) a one paragraph summary of the work; 2) the date, place and name of the publisher; 3) a short bio of the author; and 4) the PDF version of the book. Alternatively, you may send print copies of the book to all committee members at the addresses indicated below.

The nomination and supporting documents should be sent before the deadline of June 30, 2020. The committee will make the selection and notify the recipient of the award by October 15, 2020. The Award will be formally presented at the Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Washington D.C, in November 2020.

Book Prize Committee Members:

Michael Galaty, Chair, Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, University of Michigan, 3010 School of Education Building, 610 E. University Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1259

Elton Skendaj, Peace Studies, Manchester University, 604 East College Ave, North Manchester, IN 46962

Jeta Rudi Polloshka, Agribusiness Department, Cal Poly, 1 Grant Ave., San Luis Obispo, CA 95407

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Announcements Prizes

2019 Book & Graduate Paper Prizes

The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the 2019 Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is awarded to Michael L. Galaty for his book Memory and NationBuilding: From Ancient Times to the Islamic State.

A comprehensive but accessible study of how states appropriate collective memory, Memory and Nation Building offers rich insights drawn from Albania, Greece, and Egypt. Galaty takes seriously the differences in state-building practices in each of these cases, tying such differences to dissimilar responses to collective memory and the political uses of memory production. The 2019 Prize Committee praised the breadth and depth of Galaty’s suggestive study, which draws from a variety of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, psychology, history, nationalism theories, and fiction. The committee was particularly impressed by the study’s ambitious comparative commitment, which situates Albanian memory practices within a broader post-Ottoman and Mediterranean context. Memory and Nation Building notably adopts a diachronic approach, making connections from prehistory to the present. Additionally, it reveals the importance of crossing national borders by exploring neglected and under studied communities such as Greek-Albanians and Albanian-Egyptian minorities. 

Memory and Nation Building offers rich insights drawn from Albania, Greece, and Egypt. Galaty takes seriously the differences in state-building practices in each of these cases, tying such differences to dissimilar responses to collective memory and the political uses of memory production

About the author: Michael L. Galaty is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and directs the University of Michigan’s Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. 


The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the 2019 Arshi Pipa Graduate Student Paper Award is awarded to Eneos Çarka for the essay “East-West-East: When the Ship Comes In.” The winning essay is derived from the author’s MA thesis in Film Studies at University College London.

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Announcements Prizes

2018 Book & Graduate Paper Prizes

The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the winner of the Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is Elidor Mëhilli for his book From Stalin to Mao, Albania and the Socialist World.

Mëhilli has produced a groundbreaking history of communist Albania that illuminates one of Europe’s longest but least understood dictatorships. From Stalin to Mao, which is informed throughout by the author’s unprecedented access to previously restricted archives, captures the powerful globalism of post-1945 socialism, as well as the unintended consequences of cross-border exchanges from the Mediterranean to East Asia.

We will present the Prize at the SAS annual meeting at the ASEEES conference in Boston on December 8. In addition to the Stavro Skendi Book Prize, Elidor will collect two more prizes at the conference: The Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies for outstanding monograph on Russia, Eurasia, or Eastern Europe in anthropology, political science, sociology, or geography, and the Marshall Shulman Book Prize for an outstanding monograph dealing with the international relations, foreign policy, or foreign-policy decision-making of any of the states of the former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe.

From Stalin to Mao … captures the powerful globalism of post-1945 socialism, as well as the unintended consequences of cross-border exchanges from the Mediterranean to East Asia.

The Book Prize Committee members included Elez Biberaj (Chair), Director, Eurasia Division, Voice of America; Eckehard Pistrick, University of Cologne; and Matvey Lomonosov, McGill University


The winner of the Arshi Pipa Best Graduate Student Paper Award is Raino Isto of the University of Maryland, College Park for his paper “The Dictator Visits the Studio: The Vlora Independence Monument and the Politics of Socialist Albanian Sculpture, 1962–1972.”

Isto’s paper is original and well-articulated, highlighting the ways that former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha took seriously the importance of works of art in shaping the collective imagination of the people. The paper contributes to a key topic in Albanian studies, namely the history of Albanian art during the period of the cultural revolution. This paper is also very timely, with many ongoing discussions of art, monuments, and history occurring in several fields at the present moment.

Isto’s paper is original and well-articulated, highlighting the ways that former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha took seriously the importance of works of art in shaping the collective imagination of the people.

The Graduate Student Paper Award Committee was made up of Chelsi West Ohueri (Chair), Gent Carrabregu, and Fjolla Kondirolli. We will present the Award at the SAS association meeting at the ASEEES conference in Boston on December 8.

Categories
Conference Event

SAS panel at ASEEES 2017 Convention

SAS organized a panel at the 2017 Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies annual convention in Chicago, the largest meeting of scholars of Eastern Europe and Eurasia in the United States.

The SAS panel in Chicago.

The panel discussed new work in Albanian history, including SAS members Mrika Limani and her research on World War II in Kosovo, Lejnar Mitrojorgji on Albanian civic organization the late Ottoman empire, and Ines Murzaku on the life and work of Mother Teresa. Elidor Mëhilli served as panel discussant. The panel was chaired by Besnik Pula, SAS president.

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Announcements Prizes

Inaugural Book & Paper Prizes Announced

The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the winner of the inaugural Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is Eckehard Pistrick of the Institute for European Ethnomusicology at the University of Cologne for his book Performing Nostalgia: Migration Culture and Creativity in South Albania (Ashgate, 2015).

The annual Skendi prize recognizes contributions to Albanian Studies, broadly defined. Dr. Pistrick’s book, in the committee’s judgment, impressively connects ethnomusicology, anthropology and migration studies. Linking sound with space and emotionality, it offers a new understanding of the role of the oral tradition within Albanian communities, in particular its ability to deal creatively with painful experiences and the realities of migration.

The book prize committee was made up of Anna Di Lellio (Chair), Arolda Elbasani, and Elidor Mëhilli.

Linking sound with space and emotionality, Performing Nostalgia offers a new understanding of the role of the oral tradition within Albanian communities, in particular its ability to deal creatively with painful experiences and the realities of migration.


The winner of the Arshi Pipa Best Graduate Student Paper Award is Fjolla Kondirolli of Cornell University for her paper, “Determinants of Early Childhood Development in Kosovo.”

In the view of the committee, Kondirolli’s paper (drawn from her MA thesis) tackles an important and understudied topic in the field of Albanian Studies: early childhood development in Kosovo. It is original, insofar as it employs newly available data to test existing theories of early childhood development in Kosovo for the first time.

The graduate student paper award committee was made up of Elton Skendaj (chair), Chelsi West Ohueri, and Pellumb Kelmendi.

Congratulations to our winners!

A formal award conferral will be made during our business meeting at ASEEES 2017 in Chicago.

Categories
Announcements Conference Event

SAS at ASEEES 2017 in Chicago

Below is a list of SAS-sponsored and Albanian Studies related events at the 2017 ASEEES Annual Convention, to be held at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, November 9-12, 2017.

Society for Albanian Studies Business Meeting

Fri, November 10, 1:45 to 3:30pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 4th, Halsted

Save the date for our official annual business meeting! All past, current and future members are invited to attend. In addition to our regular meeting, we will be recognizing the winners of the 2017 Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies and the 2017 Arshi Pipa Best Graduate Student Paper Award.


From the Sublime Porte to Mother Teresa: Advancing Historical Research in Albanian Studies

Sat, November 11, 8:00 to 9:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 3rd, Dupage

Roundtable sponsored by the Society for Albanian Studies

Historical research in Albanian Studies has faced a long crisis given sparse new research in US academia, Albanian-speaking countries, and internationally. This panel will present recent research by both junior and senior historical scholars in Albanian Studies, covering issues from the late Ottoman era to World War II and more recent biographies. The panel will review these recent works in light of existing historiographies and raise new questions for research by historical scholars.

Chair: Besnik Pula, Virginia Tech

Papers:

The Development of Guerilla Warfare in Kosovo during 1943 – Mrika Limani, ‘Ali Hadri’ Institute of History (Kosovo)

Albanian Associations and the Struggle for Civil Society in the Late Ottoman Empire, 1880-1912 – Lejnar Mitrojorgji, U of Maryland, College Park

Mother Teresa: The Saint of the Peripheries who Became Catholicism’s Center Piece – Ines Murzaku, Seton Hall U

Discussant: Elidor Mehilli, Hunter College, City University of New York


Stepping Forward or Moving Backward?: Albania’s 2017 Parliamentary Elections

Sat, November 11, 8:00 to 9:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 5th, Chicago Ballroom H

This year marked another round of parliamentary elections in Albania after the country’s four year rule by a Socialist Party majority under prime minister Edi Rama. Albania’s democratic institutions and political stability survived the challenges posed by corruption scandals and policy controversies that plagued the country during the period of Rama’s governance. Rama’s government also saw the passing of a comprehensive package of judiciary reforms. Do developments of the recent period indicate signs of Albania’s maturing democracy, as indicated by country’s improved scores of nations in Transit and Bertelsmann Transformation Index? Or have Rama’s policies, as critics claim, strengthened his party’s hand in the control of the media and the economy in line with authoritarian tendencies emerging across the Balkans and Eastern Europe? This roundtable will consider these questions and Albania’s prospects after the 2017 elections.

Chair: Nicholas C. Pano, Western Illinois U

Roundtable Members:

Elez Biberaj, Voice of America

Lejnar Mitrojorgji, U of Maryland, College Park

Elton Skendaj, Manchester U


Social Issues in the Balkans: Education, Family, and Community in Albania and Kosovo

Sun, November 12, 8:00 to 9:45am, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 5th, Chicago Ballroom D

Three papers on this panel on social issues in the Balkans focus on education policy, inter-ethnic relations, and the role of the family in business enterprise, with a particular focus on Kosovo and Albania. The first paper explores issues of community coherence in post-conflict Kosovo, based on survey data with Albanian and Serbian adults. A second study investigates the impact of recent education policies on students’ academic performance in Kosovo. A third paper examines the evolving reliance of small business enterprise in Albania on community and informal family networks. The papers highlight the evolving relationships between state, community, and family in the southern Balkans.

Chair: Anna Di Lellio, The New School

Papers:

The Impact of Education Policies on Student Performance in Kosovo – Jeta Rudi, California State Polytechnic U; Egzon Bajrami, U of Pristina (Kosovo)

In Business Matters, is Family More Important than Community?: The Case of Non-Agricultural Firms in Albania – Esmeralda Gassie-Falzone, National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (France)

Discussant: Arjada Bardhi, Northwestern U


Beyond Nationalism: Religion, Migration, and Hybridity in Southeastern Europe

Sun, November 12, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 2nd, Streeterville

Chair: Elidor Mehilli, Hunter College, CUNY

Papers:

The ‘Orthodox Commonwealth’: A Russo-Hellenic Utopia for the Balkans, 1815-1856 – Stella Ghervas, U of Alabama at Birmingham

Struggling with Empire and Independence: Albanians and Hyphenated Identities – James N. Tallon, Lewis U

Muslims and Christians in a Contested Area: Dobrudja, 1877-2017 – Tobias Weger, Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe (Germany)

Discussant: Mate Rigo, Yale-NUS College


Politics and Society in the Balkans: from Internal Modernization to Great Power Intervention

Sat, November 11, 1:45 to 3:30pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 3rd, Dupage

Chair: Alexander Markovic, U of Illinois at Chicago

Papers:

Transgressing Modernization: the Taming of Nature and Rural Responses in the Albanian Countryside during the Interwar Era – Artan Hoxha, U of Pittsburgh

The ‘British Track’ and Ethnic Cleansing in the Balkans – Julian A Brooks, Douglas College (Canada)

Yugoslavia and US Foreign Policy in the 1960-1970s of the 20th Century – Alena N Eskridge-Kosmach, Francis Marion U

Discussant: Jelena Batinic, Stanford U


Reform of Higher Education in Macedonia – A Case Study

Thu, November 9, 1:00 to 2:45pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 5th, Chicago Ballroom C

South East European University (SEEU) was founded in 2001 in Tetovo, Macedonia by a group of local educators who sought to address the needs of the Albanian-speaking students access to higher education in Albanian. The US and European governments initially funded the university with over forty million dollars and additional resources during the next decade of its existence. This panel will bring together leading researchers and senior university administrators in higher education and development to examine the important role that SEEU played in the reform of higher education in Macedonia and South East Europe, some of which were truly revolutionary. Innovations in higher education (credit transfer system, multi-lingual instruction, student mobility, curricula) have continued to play an important role in the region and have tied into larger reforms across Europe (Bologna Process), while other reforms (private institutions, open access admissions, hyper production of graduates at all levels, tuition charges, quality assurance, etc.) have been co-opted by both local and national governments and a wave of private universities in emerging market-based economies. This panel will examine the uneven results of these reform processes and analyze the large-scale government interventions in education in the post-socialist and pre-authoritarian period of Macedonia.

Chair: Paul Milan Foster Jr, Montana State U Billings

Papers:

SEEU and the Management of Higher Education – Abdulmenaf Bexheti, South East European U (Macedonia)

Indiana University’s Support for South East European University – Charles Reafsnyder, Indiana U

International Development in Higher Education: Stakeholder Challenges to Institutional Capacity Building – Leah Peck, Indiana U

Discussant: Elena Petroska, Independent Scholar


Gendered Globalism in Russia and Europe

Sat, November 11, 1:45 to 3:30pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, 5th, Denver

Chair: Elizabeth Ann Skomp, Sewanee: The U of the South

Papers:

Beyond the Gay Divide: Russian Sexual Politics and the Everyday Bordering of Europe – Emil Edenborg, Södertörn U (Sweden)

Russian Masculinities and Cultural Construction of Whiteness: Gendering Race, Religion and Citizenship – Marina Yusupova, Samara State Technical U (Russia)

Transgressing EU Borders: Converging Solidarities along the Balkan Route – Piro Rexhepi, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Germany)

Discussant: Tamara Martsenyuk, National U of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (Ukraine)