Captive States, Divided Societies: A Comparative Historic Perspective on South-East European Political Institutions

The main objective of the project was to produce a research textbook on the political institutions in Southeastern Europe. The scope of the book encompassed both the state and nation building processes in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the current period of transition. The project’s supplementary objectives concerned the presentation of the main research results in a brochure for relevant decision-makers and opinion-makers, as well as the consolidation of a multidisciplinary network of experts and institutions in Southeastern Europe.

The intensive cooperation of a team of historians and political scientists guaranteed a well-proportioned representation of sub-regions and epochs. The project was based on the broad concept of political institutions: “normative arrangements – both formal and informal – that provide order and orientation to society and politics.” The institutionalist approach aimed at precluding an over-estimation of both national/regional specificities and universalistic processes of modernization and transformation.

The implementation of this project required an experienced and highly motivated interdisciplinary team of two project managers, twelve authors for the thematic chapters and five reviewers who, together with the managers/editors, provided the coherence of the intellectual process and the final product. The team members were expected to have a broad, theoretically founded expertise in the region and proven teamwork qualities. A major conference at the beginning of the project carefully scrutinized and enhanced the concept. At a second, smaller team-conference in the middle of the project preliminary results were discussed and coordinated. During the final conference the research results were presented and the brochure launched.

The project was financed by the Volkswagen Foundation ( in the framework of its initiative “Unity amidst Variety? Intellectual Foundations and Requirements for an Enlarged Europe”.

Romanian Academic Society conducted the project in cooperation with the Center for Applied Policy Research ( and The Romanian Institute for Recent History, Bucharest (

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