UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


South-East European Studies Seminar Series

Through a varied series of events (study days, seminars, briefings, conferences) we promote knowledge and discussion of South-East Europe.

Our activities are supported by the SSEES Library, whose holdings on South-East Europe comprise some 50,000 volumes including, notably, the Moses Gaster collection of old Romanian books, the collection bequeathed by Sir Arthur Evans, the Seton-Watson archive, and the wartime archive of King Zog of Albania.

We also play host to the Alexander Nash Albanian Studies Programme. 

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 18:00 - 20:00 (unless otherwise specified)
Venue: Room 433, UCL SSEES, 16 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW

Upcoming Events

Autumn Term 2017 Programme

16 January 2018, 6-8pm
Room 433, UCL SSEES

Dr Piro Rexhepi: The Intricate Web of ‘Islamic Sexualities’ and the Injunctions of Coloniality in the Balkans

20 February 2018, 6-8pm
Room 433, UCL SSEES

Dr Koen Slootmaeckers: The Promotion of and Resistance to LGBT Equality

Past Events

View past events including titles, summaries, speakers and podcasts.

Autumn Term 2017
03 October 2017, 6-8pm
Room 433, UCL SSEES

Prof Keith Brown (Arizona State University): Instruments of violence, vehicles of value: The Ottoman-American gun trade as intercultural encounter.

3 February 2017
Room 432, UCL SSEES
The Croatian Spring 1966-71 with Dr Ante Batovic hosted by Dr Bojan Aleksov
22 November 2017, 6-8pm
Room 433, UCL SSEES
Dr Vassilis Petsinis (University of Tartu): Competing conservatisms in Serbia and Croatia
Spring Term 2017
10 January 2017
Room 432, UCL SSEES

Dr. Julija Sardelic, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Liverpool
“The Refugee Crisis and its Impact on Marginalized Minorities along the Western Balkan Route”

3 February 2017
Room 432, UCL SSEES
Dr. Catherine Baker, Lecturer, University of Hull
Book Launch: “20th Century Gender History of Eastern Europe in the 21st Century”
21 February 2017
Room 432, UCL SSEES
Dr. Alex Drace-Francis, Associate Professor, University of Amsterdam
“From confrontation to impersonation: Romanian encounters with the English, 1825-1900”
7 March 2017
Dr. Máté Rigó, Max Weber Post-doctoral Fellow, European University Institute, Florence
"Clientelism, Patronage, Accommodation: Austro-Hungarian, French, and Romanian Business Elites in post-WWI Greater Romania"
14 March 6-8pm 432, UCL SSEESAna Antic, Lecturer, University of Exeter
Book launch: Therapeutic Fascism: Experiencing the Violence of the Nazi New Order
 10 May 2017, 5-7pm Room TBCEva Simčić, University of Zagreb
Assemblage through fissure: framing of the Post-Yugoslav in Daša Drndić’s Maria Częstohowska still shedding tears or Dying in Toronto
Autumn Term 2016
18 October 2016
Room 432, UCL SSEES
Dr Rory Archer (UCL Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow, UCL SSEES): Social inequalities and working class grievances in late Yugoslav socialism
15 November 2016
Room 432, UCL SSEES
Dr Vladimir Unkovski-Korica (Lecturer, University of Glasgow): Book launch talk: The Economic Struggle for Power in Tito’s Yugoslavia: From World War II to Non-Alignment. I.B. Tauris, 2016
29 November 2016
Room 432, UCL SSEES
Dr Nevila Pahumi (Alexander Nash Fellow in Albanian Studies, UCL SSEES): Global Goes Local: Christian Workers, Gender and Cultural Translation in the Late Ottoman Balkans
13 December 2016
Dr Peter Siani-Davies (Honorary Senior Research Associate, UCL SSEES): Book launch talk: Crisis in Greece 

Spring Term 2016

Spring Term Programme

Tuesday 12 JanuaryDubravka Ugrešić
Women in politics, men in power and obstinate ways of misogyny and xenophobia
Tuesday 19 JanuaryArmina Omerika (Goethe University of Frankfurt)
Renegotiating Tradition: Islamic Discourses of Post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tuesday 9 FebruaryJana Bacevic (Cambridge)
Neoliberalism on the periphery? Higher education and knowledge production after Yugoslavia

Friday 11 March
Room 431

Amelia Jane Abercrombie (University of Manchester)
A Romani Organisation in Yugoslavia and Kosovo
Tuesday 15 MarchAndy Aitchison (University of Edinburgh)
Police and Persecution in Bosnian Krajina: Democratisation, Deprofessionalisation and Militarisation
Thursday 17 March
Room 347
Dušan Bataković (Institute for Balkan Studies of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts)
Serbia in the Great War
Tuesday 22 MarchScreening of the Albanian film ‘SkaNdal’
 Wednesday 13 AprilLaunch of the crime stories collection Zagreb Noir
 Friday 15 AprilBook Launch and Discussion Panel: Figuring Out the Enemy: Re-imagining Serbian-Albanian Relations
Autumn Term 2015
2015-16 Autumn Term Programme
Dr Paul Stubbs (Institute of Economics, Zagreb)
Flex Actors and Philanthropy in (Post-)Conflict Arenas: Soros' Open Society Foundations in the Post-Yugoslav Space
Tuesday 20 October 2015 6pm - 8pm
A meeting with Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov
Chair: Dr Dimitar Kamburov (Trinity College Dublin)
Tuesday 23 October 2015 6pm - 8pm
Marija Žurnić:
Corruption Scandals in Serbia from 2000 to 2012: Anti-Corruption Discourse and Institutional Change
Tuesday 27 October 2015 6pm - 8pm
Dr Ana Antic (Birkbeck University, London)
South-eastern Europe in the 1940s: Reading psychiatric case files as a historical source
Tuesday 1 December 2015 6pm - 8pm
Dr Vanessa Pupavac (Nottingham)
Area studies in the era of big data and social media analysis: The possibilities and limits of social media analysis of the Balkan floods 2014
Tuesday 8 December 2015 6pm - 8pm
Spring Term 2015
 2014-15 Spring Term Programme

The precarious situation in Macedonia and who or what is threatening it  - A Panel Discussion

19 May 2015, 5pm, UCL SSEES Masaryk SCR

Reforming Albania’s Labour and Skills Market - H.E. Erion Veliaj, Albanian Minister of Social Welfare and Youth

20 January 2015, 6pm, UCL Drayton B20 Jevons Lecture Theatre, 30 Gordon St, WC1H 0AX

Chair: Gëzim Krasniqi (UCL SSEES)

Normal – Real Stories from the Sex Industry: Documentary Film Screening and Discussion with Professor Nick Mai (London Metropolitan University)

3 February 2015, 6pm, UCL SSEES Room 347

Chair: Gëzim Krasniqi (UCL SSEES)

Normal is a creative documentary that brings the real life stories of male, female and transgender migrants working in the sex industry to the screen. Drawing on original interviews with people working in the sex industry in Albania, Italy and the UK, documentary director and anthropologist Nick Mai reveals their unheard voices.

Nick Mai is a Professor of Sociology and Migration Studies, Working Lives Research Institute at the London Metropolitan University.

Reforming Albania’s Labour and Skills Market - H.E. Erion Veliaj, Albanian Minister of Social Welfare and Youth

20 January 2015, 6pm, UCL Drayton B20 Jevons Lecture Theatre, 30 Gordon St, WC1H 0AX

Chair: Gëzim Krasniqi (UCL SSEES)

Innocence and Victimhood: Gender, Nation, and Women's Activism in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina - Elissa Helms, Central European University, Budapest

24 February 2015, 6pm, UCL SSEES Room 347

Based on her recently published book, Innocence and Victimhood (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013) Elissa Helms will discuss narratives of victimhood in Postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina which often perpetuate dominant images of women as victims and peacemakers in a conflict and political system led by men. In a sober corrective to such accounts, she offers a critical look at the politics of women’s activism and gendered nationalism in a postwar and postsocialist society. Innocence and Victimhood demonstrates how women activists responded to, challenged, and often reinforced essentialist images in affirmative ways, utilizing the moral purity associated with the position of victimhood to bolster social claims, shape political visions, pursue foreign funding, and wage campaigns for postwar justice. Deeply sensitive to the suffering at the heart of Bosnian women’s (and men’s) wartime experiences, this book also reveals the limitations to strategies that emphasize innocence and victimhood.

Elissa Helms is a cultural anthropologist, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Gender Studies at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

Ethnic Conflict and War Crimes in the Balkans: Narratives of Denial in Post-Conflict Serbia (2013, IB Tauris, London) - Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik (Aston University) 

3 March 2015, 6pm, UCL SSEES Room 432

Discussants: Dr Denisa Kostovicova (LSE), Dr Eric Gordy (UCL SSEES), and Dr Jasna Dragovic-Soso (Goldsmiths)

In her book Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik explores the experience of knowing, witnessing and speaking about atrocities, and thus contributes to the debates on confronting the past in Serbia. Specifically, it considers how individuals of the "ordinary" public in Serbia reflect upon, understand and keep secrets about the 1991-1999 conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, and the atrocities, human rights abuses and war crimes which were committed there. Close attention is paid to the stories of individuals whose voices and experiences are generally excluded from the broader debate about the past providing a unique perspective on the lived experience of the conflicts, and the ways in which stories of the 1990s emerge in everyday contexts.

Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik is a Lecturer in Politics at Aston University, Birmingham.

The Politics of Memory in Bulgaria - Professor Evelina Kelbecheva (American University in Bulgaria)

5 March 2015, 6pm, UCL SSEES Room 432

Post WWII Bulgaria erected huge number of monuments, mostly of the Soviet Army and the local Anti-Fascist Fighters. Today these monuments have become hetero-topic realms for political activists and street artists that use these monuments as profoundly novel canvases of political protest, of reseeing the past and ridiculing it. It is a very effective way of deconstructing these lieux de memoire. Yet they are legally persecuted today.

Professor Evelina Kelbecheva is a professor in the History and Civilization department of the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG). She has written widely on Bulgarian history, specialising in the era of communism. Currently, she is actively trying to change the Bulgarian education system, so that totalitarian history is a required topic of study. Professor Kelbecheva will be introduced by Nikolay Nikolov, PhD candidate in Politics at UCL and editor in chief of www.banitza.net.

Documentary Fiction and the Socialist Past - An Evening with Ilija Troyanow

9 April 2015, 6pm, UCL SSEES Room 347

Bulgarian-German writer Ilija Troyanow, who is currently finishing a semi-fictional book about the secret police and life under a totalitarian regime, will be speaking. The talk will be moderated by UCL SSEES PhD student, Nikolay Nikolov and Dina Gusejnova, who teaches at Queen Mary. We will begin with a short read by Ilija from his new book and will then commence in a free-form Q&A about working with archives from the secret services and the literary formations of socialism and post-socialism.

Book launch

The Foreign Policies of Post-Yugoslav States: From Yugoslavia to Europe (2014, Palgrave Macmillan, London)

Co-editor: Dr Soeren Keil, Senior Lecturer (Canterbury Christ Church University)

Author (Kosovo chapter): Dr Gëzim Krasniqi (UCL SSEES)

5 May 2015, 6pm, UCL SSEES Masaryk Senior Common Room

Discussants: Dr James Ker-Lindsay (LSE) and Dr Eric Gordy (UCL SSEES)

This collection analyses the foreign policies of the post-Yugoslav states focusing on the main goals, actors, decision-making processes and influences on the foreign policies of these countries. It demonstrates how internal and external developments help to explain why their foreign policy, and with it EU integration, have proceeded so differently. Country experts analyse the seven states that emerged from the former Yugoslavia and point towards unique developments in these countries that have had a profound impact on their foreign policy. From Kosovo's struggle for recognition to Macedonia's name dispute with Greece, this volume discusses foreign policy from a unique insider perspective, thereby offering an original analysis of decision-making processes and foreign policy instruments in the post-Yugoslav states.

Autumn term 2014

Between Justice and Stability

The Politics of War Crimes Prosecutions in Post-Milošević´ Serbia

Tuesday 28 October 2014, 18.00 – 20.00

Mladen Ostojić (Ashgate 2014)

Lack of cooperation and compliance with the ICTY was one of the biggest
obstacles to Serbia’s integration into Euro-Atlantic political structures following the
overthrow of Miloševic´. By scrutinising the attitudes of the Serbian authorities towards the ICTY and the prosecution of war crimes, Ostojic´ explores the complex processes set in motion by the international community’s policies of conditionality and by the prosecution of the former Serbian leadership in The Hague. Drawing on a rich collection of empirical data, he demonstrates how the success of international judicial intervention in Serbia was premised upon democratic consolidation and how transitional justice policies only took root insofar as they did not undermine the stability and legitimacy of political institutions on the ground.

Discussants : Dr Eric Gordy (UCL - SSEES), Dr Jasna Dragovic-Soso (Goldsmiths), Dr Adam Fagan (Queen Mary)

Moderator: Dr Bojan Aleksov, Coordinator of the Centre of South-East European Studies

Room 431, UCL SSEES 16 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW

Cultures of Democracy in Serbia and Bulgaria. How Ideas Shape Publics (Ashgate 2014)

Tuesday 18 November 2014, 18.00 – 20.00

By James Dawson (UCL)

‘Through a comparison of public spheres in Bulgaria and Serbia, this book illustrates the weaknesses of current measurements of democracy. Dawson’s ethnographic approach allows him to demonstrate the counterintuitive conclusion that Serbia has a more solid foundation for liberal democracy than EU member Bulgaria. Of tremendous interest for anyone interested in democratic transitions, democracy promotion, and liberal theory more generally.’
Chip Gagnon, Ithaca College, USA

Discussants : Dr Sean Hanley (UCL - SSEES), Dr Jasna Dragovic-Soso (Goldsmiths), Dr Ana Omaljev (Univ. of Reading)

Moderator: Dr Bojan Aleksov, Coordinator of the Centre of South-East European Studies

Room 431, UCL SSEES

16 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW

Spring Term 2014

Third Joint PhD Symposium on South East Europe

In cooperation with the Centre for the Study of the Balkans, Goldsmiths, and LSEE-Research on South East Europe, European Institute, LSE

Following the success of the first two joint PhD symposia on South East Europe, held at the LSE in June 2010 and Goldsmiths in June 2012, the organisers invite submissions for the Third Joint PhD Symposium, to be hosted by the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) on Friday 13 June 2014.

The main objective of the symposium is to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ideas between scholars currently undertaking doctoral research on the Balkan region in UK or elsewhere. Doctoral researchers will have the chance to engage with the wider academic community, including academic members of staff at the three institutions, and also a number of other distinguished scholars on the region who will be involved with the symposium.

Details of the full programme

There may be a chance for you to join “Balkan Day – A Celebration of Creativity and Identity” at British Library. More information can be found here:

Balkan Day at the British Library

13 June 2014 (All day event)

Twentieth Century Bulgarian Writers and Intellectuals working in London

A lecture by Dr Ognyan Kovachev (Sofia University) and the London premiere screening of "Silenced: Georgi Markov and the Umbrella Murder" (2012) 5 June 2014

Shopping abroad and socialist Yugoslavia: a necessity or a whim?

Igor Duda, University of Pula, The Centre for Cultural and Historical Research of Socialism 28 April 2014

28 April 2014

A Debate on The Crisis of Democracy in Europe: Russia and Us

Radan Kanev, (Bulgarian centre-right politician) and Dr. Dimitar Bechev, (head of the Sofia office of the ECFR)

This debate aims to take a view from Bulgaria on the upcoming EU elections, the role of Russia in Eastern Europe and the Ukraine Crisis.


Radan Kanev, a Bulgarian centre-right politician and Chair of the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria party; currently the spokesperson for the Reformation Block coalition 

Dr. Dimitar Bechev, senior research fellow and head of the Sofia office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR),and one of the candidates for the Reformation Block running in the European elections in May

31 March 2014

Bosnia and Herzegovina - the continuing effects of the Balkans armed conflict on its society

Howard Tucker, Head of Mission at United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Eighteen years after the end of the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina is still suffering from its past and is struggling to come to terms with its future. In a divided country where there exists three “truths” about that conflict, justice for the victims, relatives and survivors of this tragic war is a very difficult concept to imagine and one that many citizens of BiH doubt will ever happen.     

During the life of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the ICTY has faced praise and criticism from all sides, but despite this, it continues to function and adjudicate on facts presented to its courts through the trial process. With all ICTY fugitives arrested and with just four trials to be concluded, what difficulties did this organization face whilst investigating and prosecuting “War Crimes” and “Crimes against Humanity”? 

Speaker Biography 

Howard Tucker is the former Head of Mission for the ICTY offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). He recently retired from the UN after 16 years investigative experience with the ICTY, where he served in BiH, Macedonia and Kosovo with some limited work in Croatia, Montenegro &  Serbia. 

Before joining the ICTY, he was a career Police Officer from the UK who served more than 27 years, of which, more than 25 years was as a criminal detective  . 

Howard Holds a Masters Degree in Forensic Investigation from the University of Leicester.

18 March 2014

The Majority Starts Here - a film on youth and legacy of conflicts in the Balkans

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN)

The screening  and discussion of the documentary film on youth and legacy of conflicts in the Balkans.

In the company of film makers Gordana Igrić (Balkan Insight, Serbia); Ana Petruseva (Balkan Insight, Macedonia); Jeta Xharra (Balkan Insight, Kosovo).

The documentary is part of BIRN’s Balkan Transitional Justice project, which aims to improve public understanding of transitional justice issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. 

(Croatian) Wine Reception to follow.

11 March 2014

Spring Term 2013

Albania: Pre-electoral Landscape

HE Nicholas Cannon (British Ambassador to Albania) talks about the Albanian Parliamentary elections due to be held on 23 June 2013.

Organised by the Anglo-Albanian Association under auspices of the Centre for South-East European Studies and the Alexander Nash Fellow for Albanian Studies.

A wine reception will follow, courtesy of the Anglo-Albanian Association.

15 May 2013

Spring Term 2008

The 'Urban' and 'Rural' in Present-Day Bulgaria

Two-day workshop investigating current developments in Bulgaria, from an interdisciplinary (but primarily anthropological) perspective, mainly through the prism of urban-rural relations. It will look at the ways in which the 'urban' and 'rural' have been reconfigured after 1989, both in social and economic, as well as political, ideological and cultural terms. It will analyse the ways in which these changes affect realities in cities and the countryside now Bulgaria has become part of the EU.

The convenors gratefully acknowledge the support of CEELBAS, the British Academy, the Bulgarian Embassy, and the Centre for South-East European Studies.

29-30 May 2008