[MGSA-L] "The Balkan Sight of the Mediterranean" posted on Michigan site

Vassilios Lambropoulos vlambrop at umich.edu
Wed Feb 23 04:46:59 PST 2011

The Modern Greek Program at the University of Michigan
in its on-going effort to make campus events 
available for free to a global audience
has posted on its website the following lecture
at the top of this page:

Vassilis Lambropoulos

The Balkan Sight of the Mediterranean
(or the Unbearable Similarity of the Other)
Gazmend Kapllani
Journalist and author
In Gazmend Kapllani’s novel My Name is Europe, the central hero travels around the Balkans and tries to compile a “Balkan list,” arraying the most known characteristics of Balkan identities. At some point he mentions: “You realize you’re in the Balkans when you see someone devouring the same food and dancing to the same music of his hated “national enemy”; food and dances that are also his own. When you see two people quarrelling over the different origin of the same sweet they eat or the same song they sing, then, you’re definitely in the Balkans.” Kapllani thus argues that the “clash of civilizations” in the Balkans is not provoked by differences, but by the unbearable similarity of “the other.”
Gazmend Kapllani, a prominent Greek journalist and author, was born in 1967 in Lushnje, Albania. After the collapse of totalitarian regime in Albania, he immigrated to Greece in 1991, where he worked as a builder, cook, and kiosk attendant while studying at Athens University. In 2007 he received his PhD in political science and history from Panteion University of Athens, with the dissertation “Otherness and Modernity. The Image of Albanians in the Greek Press and the Image of Greeks in the Albanian Press, 1991-2001.” Kapllani is fluent in several European languages including Greek, Albanian, English, French, and Italian. Freelancing since 1999, Mr. Kapllani is one of the most renowned columnists in Greece, and he also writes a column for the Albanian newspaper Shekulli. In 2006, he published his best-selling first novel, A Short Border Handbook, which has been published in English, Polish, and Danish. This was followed in 2009 by his second novel, My Name is Europe. Kapllani is also a playwright, and since 2004 has taught religion and Albanian national identity in the Department of Political Science and History at the Panteion University of Athens.

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