I am from Fier, a city located only a few miles away from the Adriatic coast, in Albania. Before coming to Pitt, I completed my studies at the University of Tirana, Albania. In my MA thesis, “Albania from 1945 to1961: the American press perspective,” I have analyzed the way the American press constructed the image of Albania at the height of the Cold War. I also hold a doctorate in history at the same university. In my thesis, “The Relations Between the Albanian Communist Regime and the Orthodox Church, 1945–1967,” which came out as a book in 2017, I challenge the dominant narrative of communist oppression and the church’s martyrdom. My thesis argues that the relations between the Orthodox Church and the communist regime were fluid and subject to continuous negotiations. I have also published the short study, “An Historical View on the Development of Philanthropy in Albania, where I have argued that during the second half of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, philanthropy in Albania, as well as in other countries of the Balkans, was influenced by nationalism. After my enrollment at Pitt, my professional interests have shifted toward modernization of traditional societies. My primary academic goal is to explore the shared patterns that the countries of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean have undergone in their efforts to transition from agrarian to industrial nations.
Modern Central/East and Southeastern Europe
Development and Modernization
Kisha Ortodokse nën komunizëm: KOASh-i dhe regjimi diktatorial shqiptar, 1945-1967 (The Orthodox Church Under Communism: the AAOC and the Albanian Dictatorial Regime, 1945-1967), (Tirana: UET Press, 2017).
Artan R. Hoxha, A Historical View on the Development of Philanthropy in Albania, (Tirana: 2011)
“Exploiting and Conserving: Forests, Nation, and Strategies of Development 20th Century Albania,” Economic and Eco-history: Scientific Research Journal for Economic and Environmental History. (upcoming this Fall).
“La Cortina di ferro sull’Adriatico vista dall’altro lato dell’Atlantico. L’Italia a l’Albania sotto la lente di Washington (1945-1961), in Una pace necessaria: I rapporti italiano-albanesi nella prima fase della Guerra fredda, a cura di Paolo Rago, (Bari-Roma: Laterza, 2017), 63-94. [The Iron Curtain on the Adriatic Seen from the Other Side of Atlantic: Albania, Italy and the Cold War Under the Lenses of Washington, 1945-1961, in A Necessary Peace, ed. by Paolo Rago, (Bari-Roma: Laterza, 2017), 63-94]
“Transgressing Modernization: The Taming of Nature and Rural Responses in the Albanian Countryside during the Interwar Era,” presented at ASEEES 49th Annual Convention (Theme: Transgression), Chicago, November 11th, 2017.
“Perdja e Hekurt mbi Adriatik parë nga ana tjetër e AtlantikutShqipërisë: Shqipëria, Italia dhe Lufta e Ftohtë nën lenten e Uashingtonit 1949-1960” (The Iron Curtain on the Adriatic Seen From the Other Side of Atlantic: Albania, Italy and the Cold War Under the Lenses of Washington, 1945 – 1960), presented at the conference “Marrëdhëniet midis Italisë dhë Shqipërisë gjatë Luftës së Ftohtë” (The Relations Between Italy and Albania During the Cold War), The Embassy of the Republic of Italy in Albania, Tirana, May 24th, 2017.
"Woman as Object and Agent of the 'Civilizing Mission' in Interwar Albania," presented at “Midwest Slavic Conference, 2017,” The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, April 8th–9th, 2017.
“Memory/Oblivion: the Protection of Jews in Albania during the Holocaust and the use of history,” Rome, Italy, June 2nd, 2014.
“De-Stalinization as an Implosion from Within: The Hungarian Revolt of 1956 and the Albanian Political Elite’s Dilemmas in a Time of Change,” Budapest, Hungary, May 27th, 2014.
“East and West in the Discourse of the Albanian Stalinist Regime in the Years 1960–1970,” Tirana, Albania, December 17th, 2013.
“‘Minorities’ Position in the Balkans. Causes and Consequences (a comparative approach)”, Plav, Montenegro, July 29th, 2013.
“Religious Particularism versus Socialist Nationhood. Orthodox Church’s Place in the Policies of the Albanian Communist State, 1945–1951,” Regensburg, Germany, January 11th, 2013.
“From Gentile to Gramsci? The Cooperation of the Italian Soldiers with the Albanian Communists, September 1943–November 1944,” Tirana, Albania, December 9th, 2011.
“East or West? Post–Communist debates on World War II in Albania,” Moscow, September 28th, 2011.
“The Power of Knowledge: State, Religion and Education in the Process of Nation–Building in Albania,” New York, April 15th, 2011.
“Between Faith and Nationalism: the American Protestant Missionaries in Albania during the first half of XX Century,” Tirana, Albania, December 2nd, 2010.
“Politics, ideology and historical constructions. The Case of a Revolt in Central Albania in 1914–1915,” Tirana, Albania, April 15th, 2010.
“Edward Grey, British Foreign Policy and the Making of Albania,” Tirana, Albania, December 18th, 2009.
“Raymond Poincare, French Foreign Policy and the Albanian Problem, 1911–1914,” Tirana, Albania, July 9th, 2009.
“Oral History and the Protection of Jews in Albania during the Holocaust,” Tirana, Albania, February 11th, 2009.
PhD Research Topic
“Sugarland: Socialism and the Transformation of the Countryside in an Albanian Periphery”
Advisor: Gregor Thum
My dissertation explores the links between the communist regime’s social engineering in rural areas and the transformation and industrialization of the countryside. It also investigates the responses of the rural population to these policies of the regime. I use the transformation of the once swamp-covered plain of Maliq, located in the south-eastern uplands of Albania, as a case study. Until the end of WWII, a swamp covered the plain. When the communists came to power, they reclaimed the marshland, cultivated it with sugar beet, and built a processing factory that became the center of the economic life of the villages in the plain of Maliq. The infrastructural transformations meaningfully impacted the everyday life of the local population. They introduced new forms of work and consumptions, as well as space and time organization, which changed the old social fabric and hierarchies. On the other hand, the villagers were not passive receivers. They successfully negotiated the transformations and used them to their advantage. The bulk of scholarly literature that deals with rural transformation in socialist countries focuses on the collectivization of agriculture and the resistance to it from the peasants. Yet, socialism in the countryside did not mean collectivization solely, and it did not generate only opposition. The goal of my work is to overcome the dichotomies imposition vs. resistance, urban vs. rural, and tradition vs. modernity, which still dominate the field of rural history of the socialist period. As my project shows, development in the communist countries was not an imposed urban-based experience, but a complex process where the rural population played a critical role.