Centre for the Study of the Balkans News and events

We are launching a series of online events – presentations, round-table discussions and other interactive experiences aimed at communicating the latest knowledge of the Balkans through a dialogue among academics, students and general public.

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Searching digital: Methods, tools and standards of research in digital humanities


The Goldsmiths’ Centre for the Study of the Balkans in collaboration with the Department of History of Art, Birkbeck University of London, and supported by the CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership is organising a series of workshops Searching digital: Methods, tools and standards of research in digital humanities. The series will offer focused trainings in specialised digital skills procedures and standards that are currently considered to be among the essential ones applied in the research of the humanities in any historical context or space.

The field of Digital Humanities (DH) is among the fastest growing fields of scholarship, opening up wide opportunities for a ground-breaking research of an interdisciplinary character and global outreach. However, the practical implementation of this field often shows substantial gaps, among which certainly a variation of scholars’ knowledge about digital tools, methodologies and standards.

This series of trainings opens the ground for discussing some new specialised tools, resources and standards needed for an efficient and creative research in the highly sought fields of digital humanities. How to digitise, store and restore, manipulate, and interpret the knowledge of the past? What are the technical, ethical and interpretative challenges involved in this? How to best use your practical knowledge in digital cataloguing, archiving, mapping and analysing diverse types of historical primary sources?

The series’ training sessions graft upon the experience of international scholars who contributed to the development of efficient digital solutions to the challenges of their field. Using the examples of their own expertise in early-modern and modern history, politics, film studies and preservation, heritage and library/archival collections, the trainers will direct the applicants to develop efficient tools and solutions to their own research questions in any field of humanities.

The series consists of six full-day sessions that will be held in June and September 2021. The June workshops will be held online. The mode of training in September will depend on the actual situation with the Covid-19 pandemic and will be confirmed by the end of June 2021.

Programme in June 2021:

9 June , 10am-4pm

Access to Archives, Digitization, Digital Preservation and the Concept of Record Trustworthiness in a Digital Environment. The Experience of the Blinken Open Society as the Archival Laboratory of Digital Records 

Session Trainer: Robert Parnica, Senior Reference Archivist, Open Society Archives (OSA), Budapest (Hungary)

16 June, 10am-4pm

Approaches in Object-based DH Research, Reconstruction and Visualisation 

Session trainer: Dr. Kateřina Horníčková, Researcher / DH Projects Coordinator, Institute of Applied Informatics, University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice  (Czech Republic)

21 June, 10am-4pm

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: On the Use and Usefulness of Digital Humanities in History and Beyond 

Session trainer: Dr. Mihailo Popović, Project Leader TIB Balkans, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Medieval Research - Division of Byzantine Research, Vienna (Austria)

*details of the Autumn workshops will be announced in June 2021.

For eligibility criteria and applications, see  CHASE/ Training and Development Opportunities or at Eventbrite.

The series is made possible by the generous support of CHASE, Doctoral Training Partnership.

Programme - Spring 2021

March 24, 6:30 pm GMT – Discussion on the film Homecoming: Marina Abramovic and Her Children (2020) with Boris Miljkovic, director and Jovana Karaulic, producer

Moderation: Dr Nada Zecevic, Department of History/Centre for the Study of the Balkans, Goldsmiths University of London

Panellist: Dr Aleksandar Brkic, Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship, Goldsmiths, University of London The screening of the film will be enabled to all attendees who register here before March 20 via a password protected link, so they can see the film prior to the discussion. The details of the access to the film and the discussion will be sent to the registered attendees via a separate email 22-23 March.


March 23, 6:30 pm GMT – Discussion on the film Exil/Exile (2020) with Visar Morina, film director

Moderation: Dr Nada Zecevic, Department of History/Centre for the Study of the Balkans, Goldsmiths University of London

Panel: TBC The screening of the film will be enabled to all attendees who register here before March 20 via a password protected link, so they can see the film prior to the discussion. The details of the access to the film and the discussion will be sent to the registered attendees via a separate email 21-22 March. Watch the trailer here.

Diagnosing and treating disease in Byzantine hospitals image

February 10, 7 pm - Diagnosing and Treating Disease in Byzantine Hospitals

Public Lecture by Petros-Bouras Vallianatos
Introduction: Dr. Nada Zecevic, Goldsmiths University of London, Department of History
Moderation: Dr. Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, Goldsmiths University of London, Department of History  

This talk focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of disease in Byzantine hospitals (xenōnes). It uses evidence from the corpus of surviving Byzantine hospital recipe books (xenōnika), including all the edited and unedited examples.

It also considers important non-medical sources, such as charters of medical institutions, legal sources, epistolography, and archaeological evidence. In this venture, particular attention will be paid to the role of uroscopy whether in conjunction with the examination of the pulse or not, in the diagnosis and prognostication of disease.

In the field of therapeutics, importance will be given to drug therapy, whether allied with dietetics and surgery or not, the impact of Arabic versus classical pharmacology, the introduction of expensive exotic substances, and the development of existing and new composite drugs in response to epidemic diseases, such as the Black Death. Finally, recipes for women’s diseases will be studied closely in an attempt to shed light on the level of the individualisation of the patient. 

Petros Bouras-Vallianatos is Wellcome Lecturer in History of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He is a specialist in the history of medicine and pharmacology in the medieval Mediterranean, with a particular focus on Byzantium and on the cultural exchanges between the Christian and Islamic worlds.

He has published extensively on medieval medicine and pharmacology, offering editions of previously unpublished texts; the reception of the classical medical tradition in the Middle Ages; and Greek palaeography, including the first descriptive catalogue of the Greek manuscripts at the Wellcome Library.

His recently published monograph, Innovation in Byzantine Medicine: The Writings of John Zacharias Aktouarios (c. 1275-c. 1330) (Oxford University Press, 2020), highlights the late Byzantine innovative contributions to the fields of physiology, diagnosis, and therapeutics. He has also produced three edited volumes, including Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Galen. He is the PI of a five-year Wellcome funded project “Making and Consuming Drugs in the Italian and Byzantine Worlds (12th-15th c.)”.

Programme - Autumn 2020

Reform and Renewal image

December 2, 7pm (BST) - Reform and Renewal in Medieval East and Central Europe:  Politics, Law and Society

Edited by Alexandru Simon, Éva B. Halász and Suzana Miljan (Cluj-Napoca – Zagreb – London: Romanian Academy – Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts – School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 2019) – book presentation followed by a discussion on “The Balkans, The South-East Europe, the European East – the entangled histories of a concept?”

Discussion participants


  • Prof. Alexandru Simon (Romanian Academy, Center for Transylvanian Studies, Cluj-Napoca)
  • Dr. Éva B. Halász (Eötvös Loránd Research Network – Institute of Military History, Budapest – National Archives of Hungary Research Group for Medievistics)
  • Dr. Suzana Miljan (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts), editors


  • Prof. Damir Karbić, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • Dr. Ljubica Perinić, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • Dr. Teodora Artimon, Trivent Publishing, Budapest.


  •  Prof. Martyn Rady, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London

Reform and Renewal in Medieval East and Central Europe: Politics, Law and Society represents a collection of papers authored by 30 scholars focusing on the history of medieval Central, East and South-east Europe.

By comparatively focusing on the development and transformation of the region’s medieval polities, their socio-legal interactions, and their urban development as a paradigm of the region’s convergences, the edition reflects a variety of historiographic experiences, all leading to the question of how we can approach the European East as a field of entangled medieval histories.

After we Burnt Villages image

November 18, 7pm (BST) - After we Burnt Villages – Reading Film as History

Discussion on film Pretty Village, Pretty Flame (dir. by Srdjan Dragojević, 1995) by Dr Milja Radović, University of St. Andrews
Respondent: Fedja Štukan, actor, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina 
Special guest: Srdjan Dragojević, film director, Belgrade, Serbia

In this Lecture, we will explore the ways in which we can read film as history. The overarching question that we seek to answer is: How can we understand the context [off-screen space] through the film?

In order to answer this question, we shall focus on the films produced during the 1990s conflict on the territory of former Yugoslavia. Through an analysis of film language [mise-en-scene, symbols, images, montage, sound and music, camera movement] we will assess the representations of the films’ ideological context.

Before we turn to the analysis of the films, the historical development of the Yugoslav cinema will be presented. Then, we will look at the selected films/scenes and analyse the film language, to finally discuss the relationship between the on-screen [what we see in the film] and off-screen space [what we do not see, the surrounding political context].

London with lights

October 28, 7pm (BST) - New Identity Politics on Social Media among Serbian Londoners

Public lecture by Dr. Sanja Vico, The London School of Economics and Political Science
Respondent: Prof. Eric Gordy, School of Slavonic and East European Studies || University College London
Moderator: Dr. Maurice Walsh, Department of History, Goldsmiths University of London
Dr. Sanja Vico, LSE and Prof. Eric Gordy, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL discuss identity politics on the ‘semi-periphery’

In the age when identity politics is being studied on various grounds, very little is known about the lives and experiences of the subjects on the ‘semi-periphery’. The ones who are neither part of the developed West, nor of developing countries and former colonies in the Global South, but those who occupy the space ‘in-between’.

Studies to date have demonstrated that due to this position of ‘in-betweenness’, sometimes coupled with the experience of discrimination or negative stereotyping, the semi-peripheral position is often fraught with chronic self-insecurity.

On the other hand, most studies of identity politics or politics of differences have looked at subcultures and organised attempts to challenge power and dominant representations, and thereby to redefine identities and one’s position in society. Thus, it has not been explored sufficiently if and how everyday spontaneous tactics of “blending in” and “standing out” can constitute what has been thought of as identity politics.

In her lecture, Dr Vico draws our attention to ordinary unremarkable communication practices of the subjects from the semi-periphery living in a global city – namely, Serbian Londoners. She argues that these almost invisible practices are often manifestations of identity politics aimed at reconstructing their national identity and consequently improving their position in society.

Dr Vico draws an ethnographic study of digital communication practices of Serbian Londoners, to identify a new form of subtle spontaneous identity politics on social media. This form of identity politics seeks to reassert this group’s national identity and presents it as both an “exotic” difference and “cosmopolitan”, i.e. the one that belongs to the world. She combines the analysis of social media affordances as well as diverse social factors, including users’ agency, to look at communication practices of this specific group on social media.

As Dr Vico argues, this form of identity politics has been brought about by social surveillance of the social media, the context of London as a global city, and the particular socio-historical circumstances that shaped the identity of the observed community.

Dr Vico shows that the identity politics of the Serbian Londoners is normatively ambivalent, representing, on the one hand, a source of empowerment, and, tending, on the other hand, to commodify their differences.