The Joint History Books of 13 countries from Southeast Europe is a unique collection of historical sources jointly compiled between 1998 and 2016 by more than 100 historians and 300 teachers from Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Turkey.
Their main goal is to show that every story has multiple points of view, to support critical thinking and help develop an understanding of how history is made. Nothing is taboo in the Joint History Books – they include everything from the political face of dictatorship and repression, to the crises of the 70s and 80s, and the disintegration of Yugoslavia.
These books have no expiration date – honoring the initial idea of their creation within the Joint History Books project, they are now again accessible online at a new digital home – the www.jointhistory.net homepage, which offers free downloads in 9 languages.
“These books were the central programme of the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe (CDRSEE), a regional and impact-oriented NGO based in Thessaloniki that sought to foster democratic, pluralist, and peaceful societies in Southeast Europe. Joint History Books represented a new era of re-examining history, the baggage of prejudice, and the lack of empathy and understanding. By making these textbooks available again, I hope the ministries will re-express their interest and recommend their use in schools”, says Zvezdana Kovač, former CDRSEE Executive Director.
Initiated by the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB), which supported the creation and maintenance of the new website, the textbooks are now again available to the public.
“The EFB understands that these books are an important tool not only for history teaching, but also for opening a culture of dialogue and different ways of thinking. Joint History Books can be a way out of a predominantly one-dimensional education system in the Southeast Europe region and they have the potential to encourage exchange on different perspectives and experiences”, Aleksandra Tomanić, Executive Director of the European Fund for the Balkans, said.
Joint History Books, having generated considerable international interest over the years, will continue to serve as a comparative information source for students, teachers, and all other interested parties from all corners of Southeast Europe and beyond. The European Fund for the Balkans is honored and pleased to be able to make them available again, by supporting the establishment of an online library which offers open and free download.
- Teachers participated (2,000)
- Students informed (50,000)
- Languages translated (9)
- Downloads in 2017 (74,000)
The “making of” history
The CDRSEE History Education Committee, made up of contributors from every country of the region, identified sources and content for the production of the books, ensuring the portrayal of multiple perspectives. More than 100 historians and 300 teachers from SEE had been engaged in compiling these six workbooks from 1998 to 2016.
The authors were governed by the idea of collecting and presenting historical sources and a variety of interpretations and viewpoints projected by the sources themselves, rather than a historiographical work. They, in no way, vouch for the objectivity or the authenticity of the sources. The aim is simply to demonstrate. In other words, these books utilize a comparative method and multi-perspective approach.
Translated into the languages of the region and beyond
Four of the books have been published in 12 languages and span the period from the Ottoman Empire to the end of World War II. Additional two books cover the period up until 2008, which includes the Cold War and the Transition in Europe, as well as the 1990s wars,. These have been published in four languages. In their new digital version, by clicking on the tab with the language you choose, you will be directed to the overview of all free digital copies in the selected language.
The main goal was to show that every story has multiple points of view, to support critical thinking and help develop an understanding of how history is made. There is no taboo in the Joint History Books – they include everything from the political face of dictatorship and repression to the crises of the 70s and 80s, and the disintegration of Yugoslavia.
An outstanding contribution to the production of these books has been made by the recently deceased founder and initiator of the project Mr. Costa Carras, CDRSEE Rapporteur to the Board for the Joint History Project, and Prof. Christina Koulouri, General Coordinator and Series Editor. Gratitude and appreciation goes to the editors, for their tireless effort and dedication: Prof. Dubravka Stojanović, Prof. Halil Berktay, Prof. Bogdan Murgescu, Dr. Mirela Luminita Murgescu, Prof. Valery Kolev, Mr. Krešimir Erdelja, Prof. Neven Budak, Prof. Alexei Kalionski, Prof. Niyazi Kızılyürek, Prof. Božo Repe. A crucial contribution to the project was made by the chairs and members of the Board of Directors – Matt Nimetz, Richard Schifter, Erhard Busek, Nikos Efthymiadis, Rigas Tzelepoglou, Sašo Ordanoski, Dušan Reljić, Sekcuk Erez, as well as the two Executive Directors at the time, Nenad Šebek and Zvezdana Kovač.
Making an important contribution to the project’s validity and balance, the books had been reviewed and commented by six peer editors: Prof. Robert Stradling, Prof. Maria Todorova, Prof. Peter Vodopivec, Ivan Vejvoda, Prof. Andreas Demetriou, and Prof. Florian Bieber.
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