Visions of Europe in the Nineteenth-century Balkans: A Case Study in Cultural Transfer of Knowledge
The underlying intention of the paper is to interrogate the current mainstream interpretation of the historical relations between the Balkans and the ‘West’ as it has emerged from the mirror reading of the Balkanism paradigm. In doing this, I share with the late Ellie Scopetea’s apt remark, made at the peak of the Orientalist-paradigm acclaim, that the inclusion of the Balkans into the Saidian abstract Orient would have changed the whole logic of the argument by means of accounting for the historical dimensions of the East-West relationship. My intention is to take up this revisionist ‘dimension’ by bringing forward a set of fundamental contextual elements that fit uneasily with a clear-cut ideological definition of these relations. The focus will be on the (means of) transmission of knowledge about Europe – the agencies and channels of this transmission in particular – which were critical for the visions of Europe formed but which have been largely ignored in the relevant discussions.