The Balkan region and Austria have been intricately intertwined for centuries. Today, Vienna remains an important cultural, social and economic reference point for the societies of the region. For a long time the region’s political centre, Vienna also played a key role in initiating the scientific exploration of the Balkan area.
Balkan Research, launched as part of the Institute of Modern and Contemporary History at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 2017, is embedded in these manifold interconnections and regards the critical investigation of this intertwining as one of its tasks.
The research area has a multidisciplinary base and pursues an approach that understands the Balkans as an agglomeration of socio-cultural processes over a long period in a European as well as a Mediterranean context, while also reflecting on the symbolic dimension of spatial units of order. In line with our interest in structural factors, basic issues relating to the history and culture of this area are investigated over time and accompanied by scientific projects that serve to record and secure cultural heritage.
In terms of methodology, work is bound to the principle of theory-led basic research. Through basic empirical investigation and the ongoing critical scrutiny of methods and concepts, Balkan Research aims to set new impulses that will advance research. Three guiding principles are crucial here: creative interdisciplinary and international exchange; the bundling of the philological skills essential for researching the historical Balkans; an approach that does not regard the region as a ‘sealed container’ but views it in its varying relations to western and central Europe, the Mediterranean, the Pontic region and eastern Europe.
The main areas of research are languages and the history of settlement, forms of knowledge and institutions in the pre-modern era, mobility and visualisation.