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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2023

Balkan Antiquity as Decolonial Eurocentrism During the Cold War

From the book Digging Politics

  • Bogdan C. Iacob


The chapter focuses on the cooperation between south-eastern scholars specializing in the humanities and UNESCO, highlighting and analysing Balkan discourses of ancientness in international contexts. Founded in 1963, the International Association for South-eastern European Studies (AIESEE) facilitated regional and global dynamics pertaining to the relationship between identity discourses, archaeology, and decolonization during the Cold War. Academics from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Turkey embraced and participated in UNESCO’s drive to de-centre cultural hierarchies. By 1973, AIESEE became involved in the decolonization of archaeology in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. However, Balkan intellectuals displayed a Eurocentrism from the margins imbued with decolonial motifs. The similarities and interactions between south-eastern Europeans and their African peers underlines the need for globally historicizing both archaeology and the Balkans, beyond the established pattern of West and the rest.

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