From Balkan Heights to Western Discourses: Maria Todorova and the Making of a Level Playing Field

This paper surveys the work of Maria Todorova, Professor of Balkan and Southeast European history at the University of Urbana- Champaign. It assesses her major publications and school of thought. It outlines the interplay between her career and the evolution of her academic approach. It follows her start in demographic history during the Ottoman rule in the Balkans. The move to the United States at the time of regime change in 1989/90 inspired her to shift the focus.  In what has become her best known monograph, Imagining the Balkans (1997), she analyzed hierarchies of historic interpretations and the making of the Balkans. This work resulted in a number of follow-up studies. The article concludes with Todorova's recent interest and work - both as historian and editor - in post-communism and nostalgia.

Keywords: Todorova, Balkans, Ottoman history, demography, nationalism, Orientalism, Central Europe, identities, memory, Bulgaria, post-communist nostalgia

Victoria Harms, Against Received Wisdom, Interview with Maria Todorova, October 15, 2012