Christian Voss

Christian Voss is a Professor and Head of the Department for South Slavic Studies at Humboldt University in Berlin since 2006. From 2008 until 2016 he was Vice Dean for Research at the Faculty of Philosophy II in Berlin. His research addresses the interface of sociolinguistics, historiography, and anthropology, and focuses on the South Slavic-Greek border region. His habilitation from 2004 „The Macedonian dialect/standard continuum“ was financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG). He is the principal researcher in several research projects, e.g. „Melting Borders“ on the small border traffic between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece, on identity issues among Balkan Muslims, on linguistic gender mainstreaming in Croatia, Serbia, and Albania, and on the historical boundaries in the Albanian-Macedonian contact zone.

He has published extensively on issues of sociolinguistics in the Balkans, especially on language decay and revitalization of Slavic varieties in Northern Greece. He edited several scientific volumes, among others „Minorities in Greece, Historical Issues and New Perspectives” (2003, with Sevasti Trubeta), „Marginal linguistic identities, Studies in Slavic contact and borderland varieties” (2006, with Dieter Stern), „Habsburg vs. Ottoman legacy in the Balkans: Language and religion to the north and to the south of the Danube” (2010), “Co-Ethnic Migrations Compared, Central and Eastern European Contexts“ (2010, with Jasna Čapo and Klaus Roth), and „Doing Gender – Doing the Balkans, Dynamics and Persistence of Gender Relationsin Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav Successors or States“ (2012, with Simone Rajilić and Roswitha Kersten-Pejanić).

Since 2016, he is the director of the newly founded Interdisciplinary Center for transnational border research „Crossing Borders“ and supervisor of the emerging Competence Network „Liberal Arts in the Western Balkans“ (supported by ERASMUS+ and DAAD).

Christian Voss is the founder and editor of the book series „Studies on Language and Culture in Central and Eastern Europe“ and member of the editorial board of „Balkan Studies Library“, „Mediterranean Language Review“, „Südost-Forschungen“ and „Colloquia Humanistica“. Since 2012 he is a member of the „Classe di Slavistica“ at „Academia Ambrosiana“ in Milan and member of the scientific committee of „Centro Internazionale sul plurilinguismo“.

Presented lecture: “Ethnic revival, transnationalism, and language loyalty. Muslim and Christian Slavic-speaking minorities in Northern Greece”

My lecture explores the dynamics of language policy and identity issues after the implosion of the Iron Curtain in the Southern Balkans. Based on fieldwork carried out in the region between 2000 and 2016, it compares the situation of the local Slavic-speaking population in Greek Macedonia with the so-called Pomaks (Bulgarian-speaking Muslims) in Western Thrace. Both regions have been cut through the state border since the 1910s and have been isolated from the standard language to the north of the border. As a consequence of repressive assimilation and/or discrimination both „roofless“ varieties today are threatened by language death. In both regions, the liberalization since the 1990s has given floor to ethnic activism and to various codification attempts that mostly are rejected by the community itself. Additionally, the reopened border in the Macedonian case allows intense small border traffic, a revival movement and linguistic advergence towards the Macedonian standard. In the Pomak region, however, a cross-border cohesion to Bulgaria and/or to the Bulgarian Pomaks is not taking place – despite EU-cohesion policy, e.g. the Pan-European Corridor Nr. 9 combining Bulgarian and Greek Pomak regions. As a consequence of the Greek-Turkish bilateral minority policy during Cold War, the Pomaks have been subject to Turkification and continue a historical conflation of Islam and Turkdom in the tradition of millet-logic which is opposite to language nationalism since 19th century. On the basis of these two case studies, the paper reflects the relationship of transnationalism, codification attempts and language loyalty among linguistic minorities with special emphasis on border minorities and their cultural and linguistic resources.

Selective List of Recent Publications:

  • Marginal linguistic identities. Studies in Slavic contact and borderland varieties. Eds. D. Stern, Ch. Voss. Wiesbaden 2006.
  • Voss, Christian. Language ideology between self-identification and ascription among the Slavic-speakers in Greek Macedonia and Thrace. In: K. Steinke, Chr. Voss (eds.): The Pomaks in Greece and Bulgaria. München 2007: 177-192.
  • Habsburg vs. Ottoman legacy in the Balkans: Language and religion to the north and to the south of the Danube. Ed. Ch. Voss. München, Berlin 2010.
  • Co-Ethnic Migrations Compared. Central and Eastern European Contexts. Eds. J. Čapo Žmegač, Ch. Voss, K. Roth. München, Berlin 2010.
  • Doing Gender – Doing the Balkans. Dynamics and Persistence of Gender Relations in Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav Successor States. Eds. S. Rajilić, R. Kersten-Pejanić, Ch. Voss. München, Berlin 2012.
  • Dissolving multilingual empires in the history of Europe: Yugoslavia. In: B. Kortmann, J. van der Auwera (Hg.): The Languages and Linguistics of Europe. A comprehensive guide. Berlin, New York 2011: 761-774.
  • Linguistic emancipation within the Serbian mental map: The implementation of Montenegrin and Macedonian standard language. In: Aegean Working Papers in Ethnographic Linguistics, vol. 2 (2018).