As you can probably tell, I decided to start a blog. Yes, I concede, this is entirely a selfish act, but with several (diverse) aims. First, the blog is meant to save me the trouble from sending multiple emails. All who know me well know my pathetic procrastination tendencies, which all basically boil down to utter laziness. Plus, my fingers tire quickly, and I wouldn't want to pull a muscle or anything; my metacarpals can be delicate. The second reason - probably the more legitimate one - is I would like to have a place to elucidate ideas and get instant feedback from you, oh nearest and dearest. It doesn't matter if you cannot find Pristina on a map, or think that Transylvania is merely a fictional land of Dracula and castles (Hint: it isn't). Please, please, please, leave any and all thoughts, questions, comments, life stories, anecdotes, et cetera et cetera. In a way, the entire idea for this project originates in an off-the-cuff comment from a French history student in class.
That leads me to my next point: the goal of this project. Technically an honors thesis in diplomatic history, I am examining two eastern European regions in an effort to understand the implications of political, economic, and religious factors involved in the evolution of a violent conflict. For this reason, I have chosen to look at Kosovo and Transylvania as two diverse ends of the spectrum. In the last fifteen years, the Balkan region has witnessed an explosion of violence following the collapse of the Yugoslavian government. The hostility, emanating from inter-ethnicity intolerance and prejudice, has killed thousands, and the wars’ legacies live on in the ruins and land mines still dotting the landscape. The conflict in Kosovo, a land-locked region along the southernmost border of modern day Serbia, epitomizes the model of ethnic hostility seen most commonly across the world today: a larger, hegemonic race attempting to subvert a rapidly expanding minority. Generally, the smaller group is specific to a certain region, often geographically isolated and adjacent to a remote border. One such region is Transylvania in northwestern Romania; it is populated by a large number of Hungarians. However, unlike Kosovo, Transylvania has anonymously transitioned from the socialist government to the capitalist world without the intrusion of NATO bombers. If both regions are so frighteningly similar in past history, ethnic make-up, and economic factors, why did the world witness a devastating civil war in the former Yugoslavian states, but not in Romanian Transylvania?
~ This message has been brought to you by the sponsorship of Penn's Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism and the University Scholars Program at CURF ~ (aka Amy G provided the $$$...thanks chica!)