Regional Translocality in Historical Perspective: The Case of Slavonia and Bosnia

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Markus Koller (Ruhr Universität Bochum), Prof. Dr. Stefan Rohdewald (Universität Leipzig), Dr. sc. Dino Mujadžević, senior researcher (Croatian Institute of History, Humboldtian)

Croatian Research Team: dr. sc. Stanko Andrić, dr. sc. Dinko Župan, dr. sc. Rudolph Barišić, dr. sc. Anđelko Vlašić

German Research Team: dr. Florian Riedler, dr. Elisa Satjukow, dr. Carl Bethke, Mario Šain, Barbaros Köksal 

Overview of the project

This project aims to establish a partnership between Department for the History of Slavonia, Syrmia and Baranya of the Croatian Institute of History in Slavonski Brod (Hrvatski institut za povijest – Podružnica za povijest Slavonije Srijema i Baranje), and the Zentrum für Mittelmeerstudien at the Ruhr Universität Bochum, as well as the Lehrstuhl für Ost- und Südosteuropäische Geschichte in Leipzig at the Universität Leipzig. The partnership will be funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. It is organized around interdisciplinary research on historical interactions between Slavonia (comprising the eastern parts of the Republic of Croatia) and Bosnia (consisting of the northern and central parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina) – two neighbouring and historically heavily interconnected regions that are today delimited by the state and regional border along the river Sava – and their consequences. Also, this project will look into comparative cases in other parts of Southeast Europe and adjacent regions (such as the Pannonian Basin) and theoretical approaches to translocality in general.

The particular contribution of the project lies in the fact that in its treatment of trans-boundary interaction, exchange and communication between places, it goes beyond the concept of (trans)nationality and instead employs a much more analytically precise concept of translocality. The concept of tranlocality is often discussed in the framework of the global history approach. The use of the concept of translocality enables a more fine-grained approach that is fully capable of addressing historical ties on a “lower”, previously often ignored scale established between local rather than national contexts, in this case between the two regions of Slavonia and Bosnia and the microregions within them. According to Freitag & von Oppen (2010), there are two dimensions to the concept of translocality. In the descriptive sense, it refers to phenomena that result from a multitude of circulations and transfers. It designates outcomes of movements of people, goods, knowledge across distances and boundaries. In the research sense, it stresses the fact that interaction, exchange and communication between places, actors and concepts have far more diverse, often contradictory, outcomes than previous research on transfers assumed. Within this conceptual framework, not only the circulation of people and goods, but also the simultaneous transfer and convergences of culture and knowledge between local contexts is easily addressed. Increasingly, the researchers are interested also in the challenges to translocality, i.e., various obstacles to and the disintegration to mobility and transfers.

The project’s focus primarily lies on the historical timespan between the 15th and 20th century, during which Slavonia as well as Southeast Europe and neighbouring European regions in the Pannonian Basin, in one way or another, dealt with the direct and indirect Ottoman influence. Thus, this project will especially stress the decisive factor of the Ottoman legacy in the context of the development and (dis)-continuities of the regional interconnectedness. Let us consider the translocal interactions between Slavonia and Bosnia, the objective of our case study. During this long period – including several epochs stretching from the Late Middle Ages to the 19th century – both regions were to different degrees directly influenced by the presence of the Ottoman Empire and its rivalry with the Hungarian Kingdom as well as the Habsburg Monarchy/Austro-Hungary. Even later, the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, primarily the location of regional border and socio-cultural differences between Slavonia and Bosnia, continued to shape their interactions. The Ottoman and post-Ottoman influence on Bosnian-Slavonian ties can be divided into the following periods: a) the era of Ottoman incursions and conquests in the 15th and first half of the 16th century; b) the era of Ottoman rule over both regions from the mid-16th century to the end of the 17th century. The Ottomans united more firmly the two regions of our interest within their realm during most of the 16th and 17th centuries, even administratively integrating it within Bosnian eyalet for most of the time. This situation broadened the scope of interactions, exchange and communication across the river Sava; c) the era of the Habsburg (Slavonian side)-Ottoman (Bosnian side) border in the valley of the river Sava from 1699 to 1878. After the Habsburg reconquista of what is now Slavonia and incursions in the Balkans in the late 17th century as well as during the period of Habsburg control of large parts of northern Bosnia in the first half of the 18th century the relations between the two regions continued often in the shape of migrations. During the period between the stabilization of the Habsburg-Ottoman border on the Sava in 1739 and the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878, the interactions between the two regions lessened but continued nevertheless; d) the post-Ottoman era after both regions were reunited under Austro-Hungarian administration, from 1878 onwards (with Ottoman nominal rule in Bosnia until 1908). Between 1918 and 1991 both Bosnia and Slavonia were united within two South Slavic states as well as within the WWII Independent State of Croatia.

During our meetings and conferences as well as in the materials we plan to publish, we will present, evaluate and discuss the research findings about Slavonian-Bosnian translocality across these periods in a comparative fashion including the comparison with similar cases of historical and contemporary regional interconnectedness in Southeast Europe and neighbouring regions in the Pannonian Basin.

Having that in mind, the main questions pertinent to the investigation in this project are: 1) what were socio-cultural implications that came into being through translocal phenomena (such as migration, mobility, trade, communication, transfer of knowledge and culture) between regions under investigation; 2) who were the actors engaged in these activities between regions; 3) how did the frontier or its absence play a concrete role in controlling and channelling translocal phenomena; 4) what was the influence of regional and supra-regional (e.g,, imperial) elites on facilitating translocal activities; 5) how did translocal phenomena occurring between the regions under analysis fit into larger socio-economic trends in Southeast Europe and the Pannonian Basin?  


This project is funded by the Research Group Linkage Programme of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

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Duration: July 1 2022 – June 30 2025

Zadnje novosti

The research group linkage project »Regional Translocality in Historical Perspective: The Case of Slavonia and Bosnia« to be funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

The German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has approved full funding for a research group linkage project involving the Croatian Institute of History – Branch for the History of Slavonia, Srijem and Baranja in Slavonski Brod, the Ruhr Bochum Center for Mediterranean Studies and the Department of Eastern and Southeastern European History at the Leipzig University.

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