2008: Balkans


Ivica Novakovic
Visiting Lecturer in Religion and Culture
Yale Institute of Sacred Music 2007-08

From May 9 - 20, 2008, more than 70 students and professors from the ISM participated in a ten-day study trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Croatia. Eighteen years ago, these three countries were still part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina gained independence after very brutal wars during the 1990s, while Montenegro attained it peacefully in 2006. In the title, however, I refer to “the Balkans,” a term with many meanings. Geographically, the Balkan peninsula is the part of Europe bounded by the Mediterranean (and its branches) on the west and south, and the Black Sea to the east; nobody agrees about its northern borders. Some inhabitants of the region, however, prefer to call

it “Southeast Europe,” because they think that the term “Balkan” carries negative connotations of cultural inferiority and tribalism, especially in the eyes of their West European neighbors. Others, like the Croatians, do not recognize either of the terms, and describe themselves as part of Central Europe. In the last several years, however, the work on the history of the term “the Balkans” and the images connected with it have caused a significant shift in the perception of this term. Numerous artists and musical groups from the region are now reclaiming it as a term that stands not for barbarism and old hates but for a rich and complex meeting point of different, and often opposing, cultures, such as West European and Byzantine, Central European and Mediterranean, and of different religions, such as Judaism, Christianity (Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox), and Islam. Continued…..






ISM Study Tour to the Balkans: A Composite Portrait

Compiled/Edited by Robert Bolyard, MM ‘08, Choral Conducting

It is hard to describe, and harder still to overstate, the value and impact – educational and personal – of the ISM study trip to the Balkans this spring. To complement the article by Prof. Novakovic, we have compiled reflections written by students from both the musical and divinity sides of the ISM aisle highlighting those moments which most spoke to them and their area of study. We hope that readers will get a glimpse of the trip from different perspectives and disciplines, and of the unique views of some of our students.