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:


Chair: Nicholas C. Pano, Western Illinois University

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.

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.

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


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


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


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


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


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


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)

Conference Event

SAS events at ASEEES Annual Convention

The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce a number of events to be organized at the ASEEES 2014 Convention in San Antonio, Texas, November 20-23rd.

The events include a sponsored panel as well as a number of SAS-related panels and roundtables. The SAS business meeting will also be held during the ASEEES 2014 Convention, on Friday, November 21st.

SAS-sponsored panel at ASEEES 2014:

Electoral Change and Democratic Consolidation in Albania and Kosovo

Fri, November 21, 8:00 to 9:45am, Marriott San Antonio Rivercenter, 3rd Floor, Conference Room 2

The 2013 national elections in Albania and the 2013 municipal elections in Kosovo have marked distinct but important milestones in the consolidation of democratic institutions and the enhancement of political stability in the two states. This panel debates the process and outcome of the 2013 elections in the consolidation of democratic institutions, the role of changing electorates, the realignment of elite politics, and the impact of the elections and their aftermath on EU integration in the region.

Chair: Nicholas C. Pano, Western Illinois U


The 2013 Parliamentary Elections in Albania: A Real Milestone for Democratic Institutions or More of the Same? – Ioannis Armakolas, U of Cambridge (UK); Dimitri A. Sotiropoulos, University of Athens

Near and Far: A Comparative View of the Institution of the Elections in Albania and Kosovo – Afrim Krasniqi, Albanian Institute of Sociology

In Internationals We Trust: Elections Monitoring Missions in Albania and Kosovo and their Reports – Marta Joanna Kolczynska, Ohio State U

Discussant: Elez Biberaj, Voice of America

Other SAS-related panels and roundtables at ASEEES 2014

Beyond Transition: New Approaches to Understanding Contemporary Society and Economy in Kosovo and Albania

Thu, November 20, 1:00 to 2:45pm, Marriott San Antonio Rivercenter, Hospitality Suite 4

The panel showcases papers which perform critical analyses of current and historical institutions, critical cultures, and practices of power in Kosovo and Albania. Moving beyond standardized historical narratives of transition, nationalism, and ethnic conflict which inform much of the scholarship on the region, this panel offers critical analyses of energy politics, the role of intellectuals, gender relations, and the subversive appropriation of public space by activist art. Jointly, the papers offer alternative frameworks for understanding contemporary society, economy, culture and historical social change in the two societies.

Chair: Anna Di Lellio, The New School for public engagement


Notes Toward a Critical Intellectual History of Kosovar Political Thought: The Case of Ukshin Hoti – Gent Carrabregu, Northwestern University

And Then There Came Gas: Pipeline Development, Fossil Fuels and the Everyday of Albanian Energy Politics – Ajkuna Hoppe, CUNY Graduate Center

Everyday Aesthetics of Power: Urban Space, Art and Publics – Nita Luci, University of Prishtina (Kosovo)

Discussant: Besnik Pula, Princeton U

Parties, Elections, and Democratic Accountability: Comparative Perspectives on Southeast Europe

Sat, November 22, 10:00 to 11:45am, Marriott San Antonio Rivercenter, 3rd Floor, Conference Room 3

This panel debates the role of political parties and elections in creating democratically accountable governments and states in the transitioning societies of southeast Europe, with a particular focus on Kosovo. What role does voter mobilization and voter activism play in the enactment of democratic accountability? How effective is the interaction between political parties and electorates and what are the consequences of this for the democratic process? How successfully does democratic accountability translate into concrete and effective policies in the fight against corruption and the provision of public goods?

Chair: Besnik Pula, Princeton U

Democratic Consolidation and Anti-Corruption Reform in Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia – Elton Skendaj, University of Miami

Kosovo’s Political Compass: Mapping Ideology in Kosovo – Leon Malazogu, Democracy for Development Institute (D4D)

Low Voter Turnout and Political Culture in Kosovo – Dafina Bardhi, Loyola University Chicago

Discussant: Anna Di Lellio, The New School for public engagement

Social Emergences, Cultural Formations: A Study of Marginalization and Identity Politics in post-Communist Southeastern Europe

Sun, November 23, 8:00 to 9:45am, Marriott San Antonio Rivercenter, 3rd Floor, Grand Ballroom Salon D

This panel examines the precarious nature of identity and belonging in post-communist landscapes. Specifically each of the papers focuses on minority communities and groups in Southeastern Europe. The term ‘minority’ itself is complex and contested, and highlights frictions within processes of identity formation. Since the early 1990s many individuals in the Balkans have negotiated and renegotiated cultural forms such as assimilation and difference in new ways. These negotiations are fraught with tensions that play out through inherited and newly constructed narratives of imagined communities. These frictions are further underscored by nationalist ideologies, European Union discourses of socioeconomic and political transformation, as well as rhetoric of tolerance and multiculturalism. We aim to interrogate these sociocultural tensions in order to shed light on the complexities of belonging, prejudice, and marginalization embedded within everyday practice and discourse.

Chair: Ajkuna Hoppe, CUNY Graduate Center


‘They took our hearth’: Covert Prestige and Overt Marginalization of the Aromanian Language in Macedonia – Eric Heath Prendergast, UC, Berkeley

Social Mobility and Identity Politics: A Focus on Nationalist Programs of Greece and Romania as Powerful Mechanisms for the Assimilation of Albanian Aromanians of Voskopoja – Inis Shkreli, Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of European Studies, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Slippery Categories and the Construction of Difference: A Study of Belonging and Racial Formation in Tirana, Albania – Chelsi West, University of Texas at Austin

Discussant: Nita Luci, University of Prishtina (Kosovo)

Conditionality and Conditions: Requirements and Realities in the EU-Balkan Relations (roundtable)

Thu, November 20, 1:00 to 2:45pm, Marriott San Antonio Rivercenter, 3rd Floor, Conference Room 8

EU Conditionality has been applied for years to post-socialist transitional countries in order to prepare them for membership. This policy has been also implemented and further reinvigorated when the time for SEE came. However, the conditions under which the policy of conditionality has been defined dramatically changed after the 2004 enlargement, and they are still evolving, as we saw in the case of Croatia (which meanwhile joined the EU) and Serbia, which is going to start negotiations soon. Furthermore, the conditions that impact on the EU conditionality strategy appear to be different when Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, and Macedonia are concerned. Therefore, the proposed round table aims to investigate and discuss the relationship between the evolving conditions (at the international and local levels), and the strategy of EU conditionality in support of democracy, market economy, and prospective membership in SEE both during negotiations and when the candidate country has joined the full membership (as in the case of Croatia) in the current Western Balkan context. Given the peculiarity of the suggested topic and the need to offer a more accurate and updated analysis to the audience, the roundtable format better serves these aforementioned needs.

Organizer: Francine Friedman, Ball State U

Roundtable Members:
David B. Kanin, Johns Hopkins U
Stefano Bianchini, U of Bologna (Italy)
Julie Mostov, Drexel U
Sara Barbieri, Europe and the Balkans International Network

Announcements Conference

Call for Papers for ASEEES 2014 panel on electoral change in Albania and Kosovo

The Society for Albanian Studies is issuing a call for papers for its panel on “Electoral change and democratic consolidation in Albania and Kosovo,” to be organized at the 2014 Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES). The 2014 Convention of ASEEES will be held November 20-23, 2014, in San Antonio, Texas.

SAS invites submissions for a panel that will discuss the process and outcome of the 2013 national elections in Albania and the 2013 municipal elections in Kosovo. The 2013 national elections in Albania have brought important electoral shifts, including the return to power of the Socialist Party of Albania after eight years of rule by the Democratic Party, creating new expectations for the country’s struggle against corruption, policies for economic development, and progress towards accession into the European Union (EU). In Kosovo, the results of local elections witnessed dramatic shake-ups and transfers of political power at the municipal level, indicating changing voting trends and more demanding voter expectations of incumbents and political parties. The local elections in Kosovo also saw the successful organization of municipal elections in the Serb-dominated municipalities of northern Kosovo, creating new prospects and challenges for interethnic relations in Kosovo. We invite paper submissions for this panel that deal with any of the following questions:

  • address the role of the most recent elections in Albania and/or Kosovo in shaping short-term and long-term political trends in these states;
  • study electoral trends and changing electorates in any one or in both states;
  • explore the impact of the most recent elections on the consolidation of democratic institutions at the national and/or local level;
  • examine the role of political parties, civil society, the media, and other actors in framing issues, in shaping voter expectations, and in voter mobilization;
    interpret what the conduct and outcome of the elections indicate about changing political cultures and voter expectations in these states;
  • examine the impact of municipal elections in Kosovo on interethnic relations and the integration of the Serbian minority and relations with Serbia in the context of EU-led negotiations;
    study the impacts of the elections and related political processes on EU integration in the region.

Graduate students are especially encouraged to submit papers. Papers that examine electoral changes in Albania and/or Kosovo from a comparative regional perspective are especially welcome.

Those interested in having their papers considered for the panel must submit an abstract outlining their paper proposal in no more than 300 words, as well as full name, contact information, and institutional affiliation to Elton Skendaj, no later than January 10th, 2014.

Selected papers will be notified of acceptance. Participation at the 2014 ASEEES Convention in San Antonio will be expected of those whose paper proposals are accepted.