Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
>>>> The Balkans <<<<
For two pages (includng links) on Kosovo/Serbia,
beginning with Judith Brownlee's Pagan/Christian/Moslem Peace Invocation,
please click here.
Map by B. C. Biega for About.com
Author's NoteThe Balkan Peninsula takes its name from Bulgaria's Balkan Mountains, running westward from the Black Sea. The peninsula as a whole possesses scattered fertile valleys separated by chains of rugged mountain ranges. Intense ethnic feelings come naturally to communities which are isolated from one another by these mountainous mazes. World War I started in this region; hatreds simmering in that war's aftermath led to World War II; on the eve of a new millenium, hatreds still boiling over from the 1940's are erupting anew in this region.
These are lands rich in ancient myth --- the harpist/mystic, Orpheus, came from the mountains of Bulgaria near the Black Sea. Dionysus was no stranger to these wildernesses. Marija Gimbutas' "Old Europe" encompasses this region -- and her discoveries point to a time when these lands knew peace and cooperation, when early non-Indo-European peoples worshipped life-loving deities who appreciated beauty, joy, and inspired a wide range of sacred arts. Long suppressed by later monotheisms, those ancient deities nevertheless are still wedded to the Balkan lands.
I created my MythingLinks website to focus on worldwide sacred lore and traditions. In some parts of the world, "sacred traditions" have deep, tormented roots in the distant past; when these explode violently in the immediate present and threaten to drag many peoples into ruin, it is crucial to examine both the ancient roots, their paths of transmission, and their contemporary manifestations. This is not to focus blame on the Balkans, nor to "demonize" the monotheistic and patriarchal Catholic, Orthodox, and Moslem traditions of the peoples now inhabiting that peninsula. It is, rather, to see the Balkans as a mirror of hatreds running rampant throughout the West, and to see where countries far distant from this small peninsula nevertheless bear much of the responsibility for exacerbating and manipulating old hatreds.
For the Balkans as a whole, the following sites are of interest.... [Note: beyond these links you can access individual Balkan countries.]
This site is "A Beginner's Guide to the Balkans" from ABC News. The site has a map where you can click on many of the Balkan countries for a closer look at their histories. Of special interest is a chilling and engrossing timeline of Balkan history dating back to 7,000 BCE. The site also offers a Who's Who of modern leaders, and considers prospects for peace in this long-troubled region. Finally, there is a question and answer section with access to discussion groups.http://www.lib.msu.edu/sowards/balkan/lecture1.html
This is a far more detailed historical perspective, the first in an excellent series of 25 lectures on Balkan history by Steven W. Sowards, head of the main reference library at Michigan State University. His first lecture is on geography and the early history (to 1500 AD) of the various peoples who inhabit the region. In defining which countries belong to the Balkans, Sowards writes:....Even the extent of the "Balkan" region is a matter of controversy. Many scholars, especially those writing in the Cold War era, have included only the Communist states, and linked them with Czechoslovakia, Poland and East Germany, omitting Greece and ignoring Turkey and the Ottoman era. Other historians exclude Hungary, Croatia, and other Habsburg lands, because of their "central" European character, supposedly contrary to Balkan themes. But the presence of contradictory themes is itself Balkan.For a direct link to Sowards' entire lecture course (as well as his collection of reliable links to updates on recent history), see directly below: http://www.lib.msu.edu/sowards/balkan/
For the purposes of this course of lectures, the Balkans include Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, and Hungary. Most of this area was once under Ottoman Turkish rule; the rest
under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The lectures will not deal with all of the Ottoman Empire, which extended into Asia and Africa, or all of the Habsburg lands in Czechoslovakia and Poland.
This is an erratically written, unscholarly, yet passionately expresed little essay on the Balkans by London-trained neurologist and cardiologist, Prem Amrito. He is addressing the larger issue of deep-seated hatreds inherent in the world's three monotheisms. Since I agree with his focus, I have decided to include his page on my website, its flaws notwithstanding. [Note: at the bottom of his page, you'll have access to more of his essays -- I only had time to scan a few but was impressed.]http://www.sunytccc.edu/academic/graph-desg/mary.htm
[Greece: while technically in the Balkans, Greece is invariably considered part of Western Europe and will be found under that category on this site.Kosovo
Hungary: although also technically part of the Balkans, Hungary will be found under Eastern Europe's "Finno-Ugric Peoples."]
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Copyright 1999 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.