From Region to Nation: The Birth of Ethnic Identities in the Balkans (Honors Course)

The American College of Greece

Course Description

  • Course Name

    From Region to Nation: The Birth of Ethnic Identities in the Balkans (Honors Course)

  • Host University

    The American College of Greece

  • Location

    Athens, Greece

  • Area of Study

    Anthropology, History, Sociology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    WP 1010 Introduction to Academic Writing

    WP 1111 Academic Writing with Ethics

    Hours & Credits

  • US Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    The course focuses on the construction of ethnic identities in the Balkan region from the Ottoman times all the way to the present. It aims to guide students to reconsider their views on nationhood, while developing a more informed understanding of the uniqueness of the Balkan societies and cultures and the ways in which the historical origins of Balkan countries have shaped inter-state relations.


    The Balkans are one of the most troubled regions in the world. A province of the Ottoman Empire until the 19th century, the Balkans became a theater of intense conflict as different communities struggled for territorial control in the wake of the Ottoman Empire’s collapse. These conflicts were often existential in nature, which explains why readings of history differ among the national groups in the region, contributing to inter-state disputes. The course explores the historical origins of Balkan nations and the process through which their national mythologies were consolidated. It adopts a survey approach to examine identity issues based on language, origin and religion.


    Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Identify important developments and landmark events in the Balkans since the early 19th century;

    2. Demonstrate an understanding of the historical processes through which nation-building in the Balkans has formulated identities, national master narratives, and stereotypical perceptions of the ethnic “Other”;

    3. Develop understanding of the unique features of Balkan societies and cultures, especially with regard to the rest of Europe;

    4. Discuss the relationship of nationhood to memory and language, especially in the context of different forms of cultural expression.


    In congruence with the teaching and learning strategy of the college, the seminar will employ the following tools:

    • Textual analysis, discussions, lectures, and group work during class,
    • Active student-centered teaching approach,
    • Individual student presentations,
    • Response papers by students in preparation for class debates,
    • Extensive instructor feedback on presentations and essays,
    • Individualized assistance during office hours for additional sources, presentations, and essays,
    • Screenings and presentations of films, documentaries, music, and dance performances,
    • Guest lectures by experts in selected fields.

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