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This introduction presents an overview of the history of migration within the Southern Balkan region since the end of Ottoman rule, in this way providing a broader context for the individual contributions. The existing literature on migration within the region since the Ottoman period consists of two main and separate bodies of literature: one deals with forced migration in the service of nation-building and the other with post-war labour migration in the context of globalization. Given the complex ethnic mosaic of the southern Balkan region creating nation states was a very difficult task. From the foundation of the first state to gain independence (Greece) to the Second World War, ethnic cleansing and demographic engineering were crucial aspects of nation state building. Despite historically important labour migration in the region (Hristov), until the fall of the Berlin Wall most of the cross-border migrations within the region still contributed to the homogenization process of recent nation states. The largest migration flows were of Muslims to Turkey (Icduygu and Sert), and of Orthodox Christians to Greece. However, lesser-known ethnic migrations such as Slavs from Greece to Bulgaria (Detrez, Vukov) were of some magnitude and were important factors in regional state-building. Since the collapse of the Communist bloc, labour migration has taken off—most significantly of Albanians to Greece (Vullnetari, Kokkali, Van Boeschoten)—but also from other Balkan states, such as Bulgaria (Hatziprokopiou and Markova, Van Boeschoten). Yet, doubtless owing to the complex multi-ethnic history of the region, it is frequently difficult to distinguish between short-term labour migration, permanent migration and ethnic migrations. The boundaries have become increasingly blurred; equally, some migrant groups have exhibited complex strategies of integration (Kokkali, Parla) that seem to link their Balkan past with their current needs. Such strategies also vary—with very different outcomes—by gender (Van Boeschoten). The complexity of the Balkan region is best understood from a variety of viewpoints. Leading authorities, drawn from many countries, have authored specially-commissioned texts for this volume, providing an unique glimpse into a fractured yet interconnected regional space.
Baldwin-Edwards, M., van Boeschoten, R., & Vermeulen, H. (2015). Introduction. IMISCOE Research Series. Springer Science and Business Media B.V. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-13719-3_1