Why RESILIENCE Matters in the Balkans?

24 February 2020

Doing research doesn't always go the way you'd like. Researchers sometimes have a lot of hurdles to overcome before they can get started.

Instead of cliché responses to that question, allow me to be personal but relevant. For almost thirty years now, I have been observing my fellow-researchers from developed societies conduct research. For them research is mostly about going to their university library, reading, and writing – unless, of course, they have to do field work. For me, research is primarily about getting hold of those books and articles. That usually consumes most of my energy.

Buying or Copying Books for Religious Science

In the 1990s when I was student in Riyadh and Kuala Lumpur, I spent most of my money and time buying or copying books and articles that I expected I would need. For example, copying references like  of 45 volume and 17,650 pages from the Kuwaiti Encyclopedia of Islamic Jurisprudence I had to beg the librarians to let me take it out with special permission.

After all the money, and time one last hurdle was transport. I had no idea how I was going to do it. If it hadn’t been for a friend who at that time was shipping some goods to Bosnia it would probably take years and a lot more money to get those ten plus boxes of books to my hometown.

Digital Access to Sources on Religion

Nowadays, the internet has made some of this easier. Books like The Kuwaiti encyclopedia is available for free. Some other books are there illegally but Balkan researchers often have no choice. The access to journals remains a problem.

Access to Archives in Religious Studies

Another issue is the access to often-unprocessed archives in the region. People in charge of them often deny access to researchers they do not know or trust under the pretext that the material is not indexed and therefore cannot be given to anyone. That means that researchers have to go around looking for connections and in that way incur debts they should not have to have.

It is my sincere hope that RESILIENCE will help researchers so that in future they will be able to focus on their core activity instead of being their own librarians and funders or beggars in front of tons of archival material in some underground room of an old building full of smoke.

Ahmet Alibašić, University of Sarajevo