The Balkan Centre for the Middle East is a non-profit and non-governmental organisation founded at the end of 2010 in Belgrade. Its goal is to develop an understanding of the deep historical, cultural, religious and political interrelations between societies and states of the Balkans and Middle East.
The Balkans, as a region where East and West meet, possess a great potential to become the bridge of cooperation and mutual understanding between these two civilizations. For achieving that goal, the Balkan Centre for the Middle East works on gathering together and connecting other organisations and young researchers from former Yugoslav countries who are studying Middle Eastern and Ottoman culture – which has had a significant influence during their five centuries-long dominance in the West Balkans.
Since its inception, the Centre has succeeded in bringing together young scientists and explorers from various fields of Social Science such as: Political Science, Oriental Studies,Islamic Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Linguistics, Security Studies, etc.
Managing director :
Ivan Ejub Kostić is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade. He graduated from the Faculty of Philology at the Department of Oriental Studies, Arabic Language and Literature. He obtained a master’s degree at the same department, defending the thesis Vidovi islamskog reformizma u XIX i XX veku (Aspects of the Islamic Reformism in the 19th and 20th Centuries).
From 2011 to 2013 he worked as a lecturer at the Faculty of Media and Communications at Singidunum University in courses Culture and History of the Middle East and Orientalism and Occidentalism.
He is one of the founders of the Balkan Centre for the Middle East and became its Executive Director in 2013. He co-authored the book Progonjeni islam (Persecuted Islam) published in 2013, and in 2019 he authored the books Savremena islamska misao (Contemporary Islamic Thought) i Religija, verovanje i građanski identitet (Religion, Belief and Civic Identity).
He is a member of the Steering Committee of the European Muslim Network based in Brussels, the Editorial Board of the Journal of Religious Sciences Kom and is the editor-in-chief of the regional online platform for contemporary Islamic thought and culture Algorithm. He is also a regular contributor to the Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, published since 2009 by Brill, Leiden Publishing House, as well as to the Islamophobia in Europe project, sponsored by the SETA Foundation (Siyaset, Ekonomi ve Toplum Araştırmaları Vakfı).
He is the author of numerous scientific papers and texts in the field of Islamic studies. He is a frequent commentator for the leading media in the country and region on the topic of the Islam in the Balkans, religion and nationalism, Islamophobia and Middle East.
Balkan Centre for the Middle East advisory board :
Dr Olga Zirojević
Born in Pancevo on May 15, 1934, where she completed her primary and high school education. She graduated from the Belgrade University in 1957, earning a History Degree from the Faculty of Philosophy. She spent a year organizing Turkish archival records in the Belgrade Archive. Between 1958 and 1960 she earned a Master’s Degree in history and orientalism from the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Sarajevo (Master’s thesis: A Century of Turkish Rule in Slankamen (1521-1621)). Ms. Zirojevic worked at the Belgrade Institute of History from 1962 until 2001. In 1967 she successfully defended her doctoral dissertation (The Constantinople Road from Belgrade to Sofia (1459-1600)) at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Belgrade. Ms. Zirojevic’s work centers on the Turkish period of Serbian history between the 15th and 18th centuries. She has participated in study tours to Bulgaria, Turkey, Germany, Austria, France and Hungary. Her texts have been translated into several languages and she has participated in dozens of conferences and seminars in Serbia and abroad.
Prof. Milan Vukomanović (1960) is a full professor of sociology of religion at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade. He received his Ph.D. in 1993 at the University of Pittsburgh, U.S.A, where he taught religious studies courses until 1995. He was also a visiting professor of this University (program Semester at Sea) and a guest lecturer at NTNU, Norway and University of Sarajevo. Vukomanović has taught courses at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade, Faculty of Political Science, Belgrade Open School and Peace Studies. Vukomanović is the co-founder of the Center for Religious Studies (CIREL-BOŠ) as well as the member of the Kotor Network (an international academic exchange in the field of Balkans based religious studies) and the Forum Islam in South East Europe. The area of Prof. Vukomanović’s academic interest ranges from sociology of religion and inter-religious dialogue to studies of Early Christianity and Islam.
Prof. Vukomanović published and co-edited several books, including Homo viator: Religion and new age (2008), Religious dialogue in the Balkans: The Drama of understanding (2005), The Sacred and the multitude: Challenges of religious pluralism (2001) and Inter-religious dialogue as a way of reconciliation in South Eastern Europe (2001). He has also published about 200 journal articles, chapters in books and other works in Serbian and international publications.
Rastko Popović holds a Master’s degree in Politics, Security and Integration from University College London, UK and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Sciences and a minor in History from the University of Maryland, US.
He has been involved in various NGO in Serbia, most recently assisting the Balkan Trust for Democracy in its efforts to build stronger civil society and good governance. Currently, he is engaged at USAID’s Sustainable Local Development Project assisting local government, civil society and the private sector in forging closer, mutually interdependent, ties and jointly developing their communities.
His fields of interest include: international relations, decentralization, Euroatlantic integration, US foreign policy, regional and Middle Eastern politics, democratization, globalization, legal reform.
Marko Žilović is a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the field of Comparative Politics at the George Washington University. He holds a masters degree in Central and South-East European Studies from the University College London. He worked as a researcher in several projects for the universities and think tanks in Serbia, the UK, and the USA. His research interests include: Contentious Politics, Authoritarian Regimes, Political Violence, and Ethnic Politics.
Davor Marko is currently working as a non-resident research fellow at the Centre for Social Reserch Analitika. Currently, he attends a PhD studies in culture and communication at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade. He holds MA in Democracy and Human Rights, joint-degree awarded by the University of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Bologna (Italia). Last ten years he worked in Sarajevo as an academic tutor, media researcher/analyst and project coordinator. As collaborator of Mediaplan, Mediacenter, Center for Human Rights, Novi Sad School of Journalism, he conducted a numerous researches on media contents related to the presentation of diversitites. In academic year 2011/2012, he worked as media consultant for the University in Edinburgh, UK, and he was the research fellow of the Open Society Fund, BiH. Also, he was a fellow if the University of Toronto’s Connaught Summer Institute on Islamic Studies during the summer 2013. He was editor in chief of magazine Novi pogledi [New perspectives], published by the Alumni of Centre for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies, and he collaborated with various magazine / journals from the region, such as Ekonomist, Dani, Status, Oslobođenje, and Puls demokratije. Currently he is editor in chief of the specialized journal on youth work Iuventa published by the Institute for Youth Development KULT. In 2009 he published a book Zar na Zapadu postoji drugi Bog? [Does another God exists on the West?], where he analyzed dominant stereotypes and prejudices on Islam in media of Western Balkans. Also, he is co-editor of a book State or Nation? Challenges for Political Transition of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011), end editor of the volume „Media in Minority Languages in Western Balkans“ (2013). Currently his fields of occupation are communication of public institutions, including the use of new platforms of communication, and phenomenon of the language of fear in media discourses.