I am a historian of modern Europe, with a regional focus on Southern Europe, and thematic interest in the transnational processes of modernization and development in the 20th-century. I use modernization as an analytical category to investigate the threads and shared historical dynamics that link the societies of South-eastern Europe with each-other and the wider world. I emphasize convergence, connections, and entanglement that bridge the West-East divide and scrutinize their common historical experiences during the last two-hundred years.
Before coming to Pitt, I completed my studies at the University of Tirana, Albania, where I earned a doctorate in history. 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 religious 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 a short monograph, “An Historical View on the Development of Philanthropy in Albania. This study focuses on the second half of the 1800s and the first decades of the 1900sth and argues that the philanthropists’ goal to transform the society interplayed with the modernizing program of Albanian nationalism. After my enrollment at Pitt, I further deepened my interest on the modernization of South-eastern Europe during the 20th-century.
Modern Europe, Modern Central/East Europe Southeastern Europe/Balkans, Southern Europe, Mediterranean, Socialism, Rural history, Development and Modernization, Modernity, Religion, Cold War
“Sugarland: Socialism and the Transformation of the Albanian Countryside”
Advisor: Dr. Gregor Thum
Based on the Latin saying, “Mundus in gutta,” the world in a drop of water, I focus the microscope of my research in the plateau of Maliq, located in the southeastern uplands of Albania. My study explores its radical transformation during the socialist period and contextualizes it within the broader framework of the twentieth century. For thousands of years, a swamp covered the plain, but in the immediate post-WWII years everything changed. After taking over the power, the communist regime transformed Maliq, forever. It reclaimed the swamp, cultivated the plain with sugar beet, and built there a processing factory. I use this case study to investigate the micro-macro link between Maliq and the broader global dynamics and transformations of the twentieth century. This study zooms in and observes how the top-down projects to engineer infrastructural, social,and cultural transformations in the rural areas did play out on the ground. It also zooms out to trace the threads that link the land of sugar with countries located on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
The simultaneous use of these different scales of analysis, allows to grasp better the width and depth of transnational dimensions of this scheme. The reconstruction of the 20th-century’s history from the margins of Europe, sheds new light on the history of the continent and defies either the metanarratives of irreconcilable differences among blocs or alleged exoticism of Albania. Exploring Europe’s last century history from its outskirts helps transcend the spatial, ideological, and systemic divides that have been part of the academic toolbox since the Cold War era. This study shows how Maliq was a nodal point of intense contact, a crossroad of encounter between people coming from different parts of Europe and of transnational circuits of technology exchange. The small plateau specialized in the production of sugar was a spinner in the loom that weaved the global web. It fostered the country’s integration into a larger fabric of worldwide networks that constantly transgressed any boundary, real or imagined. In Maliq, we can see how the global and local mutually influenced and reinforced each other.
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, 14 (2018): 145-167.
“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]
“‘Down the Fences!’: The Industrialization of Agriculture in Socialist Albania,” presented in Agricultural History Society Annual Meeting, Washington DC, 06-06-2019
“From Red to White Sugar: The Collapse of Communism and the End of Autarkic Development of Albania,” presented in Midwest Slavic Conference, Columbus, Ohio, 04-07-2019
“From Missionaries of Socialism to Spies of Soviet Imperialism: The Position of Soviet Women in Communist Albania,” presented in ASEEES 50th Annual Convention, Boston, 12-09-2018.
“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 27 th, 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.