multilingual GRAZ / STYRIA

Minderheitenliteraturen in Südosteuropa - MILES

Minority Literatures in Southeastern Europe – MILES

This research project based at the Plurilingualism Unit of treffpunkt sprachen aims at investigating literature (drama, poetry, prose) written in minority languages of Southeastern Europe (SEE) after 1945, looking at peripheral voices of what is a polyphonic and multi- and plurilingual region.

By minority languages, we understand those languages spoken and used by so-called traditional minority groups within a certain country speaking a different, majority language, and these minority languages also being used as medium of the creation of literary works; some examples are: Hungarian literature written in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina; Istro-Romanian literary works written in the Croatian region of Istria; Kurdish literature in Turkey and Turkish literature in Bulgaria; authors of Greek origin writing in Greek in southern Albania; the tradition and revival of Sephardic and Yiddish literature in many countries of the regions; literature in diverse Romani dialects throughout the region; etc.

We understand SEE as encompassing, in alphabetical order: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia. However, a transnational and a regional approach is also employed, paying attention to the fact that regions and countries bordering the geographical area of SEE (such as Austria) have had a centuries-long exchange of people, languages and cultural practices with SEE, which makes it impossible to look at the phenomenon of minority cultures only in frames of national states. What is more, historical realities, like the existence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Yugoslavia, etc. underline the necessity to look at minority cultures, languages and literatures diachronically, outside nation-state forms and practices, and to take into consideration the centuries-long dynamics of exchange, mutual influence, contact, domination, ideological shifts, and power relations within given multi-national societies and structures.

The core ideas behind the project are:

·        to look at the silent/silenced voices of polyphonic cultures of SEE, investigate texts that often remain untranslated even into the majority language of the territory (let alone into one of the languages of wide circulation like German or English)

·        to provide insight into the multi-layered identities found within these minority-literature texts by way of literary analysis and from a cultural-studies perspective

·        to analyze, compare and contrast individual state policies toward minority cultures since 1945 in different political and ideological circumstances, and localize these policies in a European and global context.

The envisioned eventual output is the compilation of a critical anthology that would present texts in the original and in English translation, accompanied by descriptive/explanatory pieces on the particular minority culture and cultural context, and on the text’s author(s).

The research is to involve working closely with a network of professionals within the region; with scholars from such fields as minority studies, literary studies, history, ethnology; with translators to and from the minority languages of the region; and with publishing houses that focus on the publication of minority authors specifically.

The first phase will include research of the existing primary and secondary literature and the second the systematization and corpus building.

The expected result is the creation of a comprehensive corpus of original and critical works, contributing to the increased visibility of these cultural productions, as well as the preparation of material for an envisioned publication in a follow-up project.

The conductor of the research is Oana Hergenröther, PhD.