The end of summer and the start of another academic year brings with it all the familiar ritual joys (and punishments) of returning to the keyboard. As I enter what I hope to be the final year of my PhD program, "interesting times" continue to keep me invested in both academic and popular writing. Especially with election season in full swing in BiH, it's been a whirlwind of op-eds and interviews as of late.
In late August, I published my analysis of Russia's growing influence in BiH, and growing interests in the region more broadly. The piece was subsequently translated into Russian and (unfortunately) continues to be a matter of discussion as the fighting in Ukraine drags on and Europe's response remains anemic.
Also around this time, the second issue of the newly launched Harriman Magazine appeared, featuring a piece by Tanya Domi and I reviewing the February protests in BiH. Tanya is a colleague and a co-conspirator with whom I've been organizing a slew of Balkans-related events at the Harriman Institute (in fact, if you're in the NYC area, come join us for a BiH elections event on October 30th). Aside from being a wonderful human being, Tanya is also real fount knowledge on all things LGBT in the southeast of Europe (e.g. her recent blog on the Belgrade Pride Parade).
The big project of the past few weeks, however, was my primer for the BiH elections over at Balkanist. Aside from very kindly publishing this somewhat lengthy text, Balkanist has continued to publish incredible analyses from around the region and eastern Europe more broadly. This rookie operation has made the Balkans relevant and engaging in a way many (much!) larger and (much!) better endowed establishments have consistently failed to do. Editor-in-Chief Lily Lynch deserves heaps and heaps of credit for this. I cannot say enough good things about this project, honestly. As a writer, the response to both of the texts I have so far written for Balkanist has been incredible and a large portion of that success is owed directly to the presentation and growing reputation of the medium, namely, Balkanist. I would strongly encourage other scholars and observers of south and eastern Europe to not only follow this little magazine-that-could but to consider sharing their work on its pages, as well.
In any case, the elections text has been very well received, especially by the local (that is, BiH) media. I'm indebted to the team at Media Centar in Sarajevo for the opportunity to weigh in on the campaign to date. Like many of my colleagues, I've been admittedly cynical about the prospects for change at these elections. Nevertheless, I've also continued to insist on the need to think about these polls in the context of of a year of hitherto unseen civic mobilization in the country. In the final analysis, reform in BiH will require not only new institutional actors, it will require the presence of an organized and mobilized civil society--beyond mere NGOs--to keep these newly elected officials accountable. Social movements, in short, are imperative for the country's re-conceptualization as a democracy rather than as an essentially failed state.
The coming days will bring with them flurries of further projects but for the time being, I leave you with an always topical message from my recent stay in Sarajevo.