About the Prizes

About Stavro Skendi & Arshi Pipa

The Society’s Prizes are named after two major contributors to Albanian Studies in the United States and the world.

About Stavro Skendi

Stavro Skendi (1905-1989) was born in Albania and was a distinguished linguist and historian. Following the establishment of a Communist regime after World War II, Skendi moved to the United States. He joined the faculty of Columbia University, where he served as professor of Balkan languages and cultures until his retirement in the 1970s.

Skendi was a graduate of Roberts College in Istanbul and received a doctorate from Columbia University. He was a Guggenheim Fellow (1963) and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

His publications include Albanian and South Slavic Oral Epic Poetry (American Folklore Society, 1954), Albania (Praeger, 1958), The Emergence of the Modern Balkan Literary Languages: A Comparative Approach (Wiesbaden, 1964), Crypto-Christianity in the Balkan Area under the Ottomans (American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, 1967), The Albanian National Awakening, 1878-1912 (Princeton, 1967), and Balkan Cultural Studies ( Boulder, 1980).

About Arshi Pipa

Arshi Pipa (1920-1997) was an Albanian philosopher, writer, poet and literary critic. Pipa attended school in Shkodër, where he was born, and received a degree in philosophy at the University of Florence in 1942 with a dissertation on Henri Bergson. He was imprisoned in Albania in 1946, shortly after the establishment of a Communist regime there. Following release from prison in 1956, Pipa escaped to Yugoslavia and some time later emigrated to the United States. He taught in a number of US universities, including at Berkeley in the era of the Free Speech Movement. Until 1989, Pipa was professor of Italian literature in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Minnesota.

Pipa’s Libri i burgut (The Prison Book, Rome, 1959) was a testament in verse of long years spent in various prisons and labor camps. Pipa also published other volumes of poetry. His scholarly publications included the three-volume literary study Trilogia albanica (Munich, 1978) and a monograph titled Montale and Dante (Minneapolis 1968). Pipa published important books on the standardization of the Albanian language, on socialist-era literature, and he also collected some of his wide-ranging essays in the volume Albanian Stalinism: Ideo-political Aspects (New York, 1990). In his later years, Pipa edited the periodical Albanica based in the United States.