Editors:
Annemarie Sorescu-Marinković
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Mihai Dragnea
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Thede Kahl
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Blagovest Njagulov
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Donald L. Dyer
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Angelo Costanzo
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Free access

Language and the Politics of Identity. The Romance-Speaking Balkans is a project of the Balkan History Association (BHA) in Bucharest, Romania. The project follows the aims of BHA, namely the interdisciplinary and comparative study of the Balkan region, and, more generally, of South-East Europe. Thus, this volume fulfills the purpose of BHA, that of contributing to a better understanding of the communities in the area, and their shared cultural heritage. Also, this volume is meant to present the Balkans as intrinsically linked to the larger European cultural space.

The editors of the volume, of whom I am one, are engaged in various activities related to Balkan studies. Most of them are members of the Scientific Board of BHA, Editorial and Advisory boards of Hiperboreea, the journal affiliated to BHA. Their research interests lie in the fields of linguistics, anthropology, sociolinguistics, ethnic studies, ethnography, history, and political science.

This volume is a collection of essays written by scholars with diverse disciplinary backgrounds and wide-ranging approaches: from literary and linguistic analysis, to history, sociology, and political science. The eight chapters in the volume all engage with the complex relationship between language and identity of the Romance-speaking communities in southeastern Europe, as well as the cultural and political challenges they have been facing when trying to forge and express their identity over time. By discussing both the construction and deconstruction of individual and group identities in their engagement with nationhood, the contributors to the volume explore the ways in which the identity of the Romance-speaking communities has been interpreted and performed in the Balkans.

The contributors of this volume show why language is essential for the construction of socio-cultural and socio-political identities in modern states. In the process of formation of national identities, language always plays a key role in the homogenizing of the population by political decision, and thus must be seen as a relevant tool in the construction of the concept of nation. Moreover, several lay and ecclesiastical authorities, political parties, national movements and other political, cultural and religious organizations aim to demonstrate that language is not only an element of collective identification, but also a sign of loyalty to the national state and its interests.

On the long path to completion of the volume, I have relied on the support and assistance of several persons. Firstly, I would like to express gratitude and appreciation to the other editors of the volume, for invaluable advice on achieving consistency in its content. Secondly, I would like to thank the contributors for their high-quality essays and also for their patience. I also hope this volume will find a readership not only inside the academic world, but also outside of its borders, within a non-specialized, general audience, designed to facilitate a better collaboration between the states of the Balkan region.

Mihai Dragnea

Balkan History Association, President

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