Interview with James Robertson--February 19, 2014

James Robertson on the Croatian island of Vis at the
entrance to a cave that served as the partisans' secret
headquarters during the Second World War.
Interview with James Robertson, advanced Ph.D. student in History at NYU. Interview conducted in New York, NY on February 19, 2014. 

Robertson is currently writing a dissertation on writers and communist thought in interwar Yugoslavia, the working title of which is "Visions of Community on the Yugoslav Literary Left." He has written several pieces for The Immanent Frame, an SSRC digital forum on "Secularism, religion, and the public sphere." 

Interview Themes

How Robertson came to his dissertation topic (1:00)
On how ideas of Balkan federation are related to the Left (5:20)
Imperialist versus federalist models and their overlap (9:15)
Is there a regionally specific relationship between federation and violence? Mlada Bosna, terrorism and anarchism in the context of thinking about federation (14:35)
How Robertson, having grown up in Australia, came to be interested in Yugoslavia through contact with émigrés in Sydney (20:50)
On Robertson's first visit to Yugoslavia in 2005 (26:30)
On Yugonostalgia--or lack thereof--in former Yugoslavia (29:05)
Robertson's most important intellectual influences--Kristin Ross's May '68 and Its Afterlives and Alain Badiou's The Century (30:45)
Is there anything special about intellectual history for this region versus for Europe as a whole or other parts of the world? (33:35)
On the coherence of Balkan history (38:25)
Historical incarnations of Balkan or Southeastern European history and unity and Robertson's conceptual geography of the region (41:00)
Pan-slavism and Southeastern Europe (44:50)
On Robertson's writing for The Immanent Frame (47:25)
What sets Robertson's generation apart from earlier generations of East Europeanists -- coming of age with the fall of the Berlin Wall versus with the 2008 economic crisis (52:33)
Robertson's political engagement with the region, and particularly the recent protests in Bosnia (57:03)
Area studies in Robertson's experience (1:02:50)
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