Due to specific circumstances – (international) political, ideological, economic, etc. – the studyof the Balkans in Slovenia is less organised than it should be on account of historical, geographical, cultural, linguistic and other reasons. Over recent centuries, Slovenes have radically changed their attitude towards the Balkans: from the search of connectedness, a common destiny and future, cooperation and exchange in various fields, to periods of radical breaks, negation and exclusion. It could be claimed that in Slovenia there prevails a specific attitude towards the Balkans characterised by remarkable ambivalence charged with strong emotions. In the second half of the nineteenth century, Slovene politicians represented the Balkans as a solution for the situation of all Southern Slavs in the Habsburg Monarchy, and in the 1930s Slovene newspapers proudly proclaimed the Ljubljana Nebotičnik (‘Skyscraper’) as the tallest building in the Balkans. However, at the end of the second half of the twentieth century, Slovene politicians decided to lead the country away from the Balkans under the motto of ‘Europe now’, and made the very term ‘the Balkans’ synonymous with what is bad, backward and uncultured.
As a Central European, Mediterranean and Balkan State, Slovenia should be able to make good use of its potential advantages in the academic field. Knowledge of the Balkans could be one of its potential advantages, but only under the condition of a systematic academic debate, for which there is no better framework than that provided by the University of Ljubljana. The implementation of a multidisciplinary approach should encourage a greater interest in this European region, create a more holistic perspective and, as a consequence, a change in international, cultural, economic and social relations. This interfaculty study will undoubtedly throw a new light on the complicated multicultural situation of the majority of the Balkan states, which has for centuries been the main characteristic of everyday life, its economic, social and spatial developmental possibilities, and their political and ethnic problems. The Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Social Sciences initiate the programme as equal partners, each with its complementary content and fields, ranging from anthropology, ethnology, history, archaeology and geography to the musicology of the Balkans, and from feminist studies to the studies of Balkan ideologies, literatures, religious dynamics, media and international relations. The lecturers and other participants, who will in each case be involved in different forms of seminars, guarantee the breadth of knowledge, skills and competences needed to all those who will work in different ways in the territorial, political, economic and cultural context of the Balkans. Thus, Balkan Studies will systematically develop and make available better knowledge and understanding which can also be applied in resolving characteristic problems of this part of Europe.