The Treaty of Berlin (1878) reshaped the political landscape of the Balkans. The defeated Ottoman Empire had to recognize the independence of its once tributary provinces of Serbia, Montenegro and unified Romania, with new borders drawn mainly in favor of the new states. The territory inhabited by Bulgarians was divided into two distinct entities: a semi-independent Bulgarian principality and the eastern Rumelia vilayet. The Ottoman Porte had to acknowledge the rule and factual occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary, although both provinces remained de jure and pro forma Ottoman territories. Austria-Hungary gained military control over the Sanjak of Novi Pazar as well and established an indirect access to the central Balkans which remained under Ottoman rule.

The wars of 1875–1878 and the Treaty of Berlin did not only reshape the borders in the Balkans, but also the cultures present within the respective territories. Armed conflicts in the southeast of Europe during the 19th century were almost always accompanied by huge changes in the ethnic and religious composition of the regions affected. Voluntary evacuation, agreed resettlement, forced emigration, planned relocation of immigrants and other forms of massive population movements complemented the framework of war efforts. But “artificial” population changes did not occur just in times of war. The new Balkan states frequently accused the Ottoman Empire of performing “demographic warfare” by population politics forcing Christian exoduses, favoring Muslims and settling them purposely in border areas, which led to changes in ethnic and religious compositions of whole regions. It was, nevertheless not just simply an Ottoman-Christian territorial or “population dispute”. The remaining Ottoman provinces, with the Macedonian region in particular, were inhabited by many different national and religious groups. The complicated and generally blurred population structures of such regions made it very difficult to determine areas of influence for neighboring Christian states, which usually claimed whole provinces as “theirs” due to “historical rights” and the nationality of the inhabitants. Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, the Ottoman Empire as well as other main European powers (Britain, France, Russia, Austria-Hungary) started in the post-Berlin era a major initiative of ethnographic and demographic research of the Balkans resulting in an astonishing number of publications issued until World War I. Unfortunately, in many cases the basic population data used for analysis were of unknown origin or evidently corrupt. Such publications were frequently fabricated as part of state propaganda. Brochures, pocketbooks, posters, and pseudoscientific monographs or professional maps depicting the population structure of the Balkans in a “desired” way overflowed the European markets and also reached the bookshelves and working tables of scientists and politicians.

Quality research about demographics in the Balkans during the 19th century is still rather rare. One of the main problems is the lack of trustworthy basic population data for the Ottoman-ruled regions. Original detailed data from Ottoman population counts have not yet been discovered or analyzed. Data sources for the new Balkan Christian states are available in huge numbers and in most cases are also published by their statistical offices. Research based on those data was conducted already in the 19th century and some serious studies emerged from it. It was common practice, however, to conduct such research within a one-state or one-nation framework, frequently ignoring the nature of demographics as complex and usually cross-border and interrelated processes. Specific anomalies, phenomena, or patterns detected were regularly not considered in a wider context or evaluated taking into account similar research about neighboring areas which belonged to another nation-state.

The Balkan History Association is preparing a volume on political demography with the aim to present a more comprehensive approach to the complicated topic of demographic dynamics in the Balkans following the Treaty of Berlin (1878) until the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. We welcome researchers from all around the world to contribute to this volume with original scientific papers that deal with some of the following topics: Population changes in the Balkans (changes in population structure – ethnic and religious in particular – due to border changes and peace-time developments; vital statistics, demographic patterns: similarities and differences); population statistics and identity (the impact of state-run population data recording on defining, altering, or forming collective identity); demographic warfare (population policies in the Balkans: role of demographics in the general political framework; evolution of the “Eastern question”); population data and propaganda (population data as part of propaganda efforts, 19th century maps, books, etc.).

Submission procedure

The volume will be published by Peter Lang (in the series “South-East European History”). Original manuscripts should be prepared following the editorial guide of the publisher, available on their website, especially “Style Guidelines – British English” and “Submission Guidelines“. Manuscripts must not have been published, submitted for publication or available on the internet elsewhere. Interdisciplinary work is particularly welcome. Please submit your proposal, including the title of your manuscript, an abstract (up to 300 words), and an author’s biography (up to 100 words) to all editors. The abstract should include the research question and purpose, the approach and main ideas, results of the research and a basic description of the sources used (archival documents, secondary sources etc.). No figures, tables, footnotes, or endnotes should be included in the abstract. Articles should not exceed 8,000 words in length including footnotes and references (reference list or bibliography).


June 19, 2023: Submission of proposals to editors

July 10, 2023: Notification of accepted proposals

November 6, 2023: Receipt of final papers for peer review

January 15, 2024: Revised chapters re-submitted to editors


Nino Delić (Institute of History, Belgrade),

Ioan Bolovan (Institute of History “George Bariţiu“, Cluj-Napoca),

Gábor Demeter (Institute of History, RCH, Budapest),

Ömer Turan (Middle East Technical University, Ankara),

Michailidis Iakovos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki),

Please circulate this call for papers among your colleagues and other potentially interested scholars.

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