The history of emotions has emerged as an important field of research in the humanities and sciences over the last twenty years. Current scholarship suggests that the experience and expression of emotion vary widely across different cultures, and that emotional vocabularies or repertoires change markedly within individual cultures at different historical junctures. Culture and emotion are so closely intertwined that the Centre has been established specifically to study them in conjunction with each other. Our approach to this complex historical evolution of emotional landscapes in human society is to consider moments of conflict and exchange in a range of geographical locations, where contact between different cultures and communities elicit intense emotional response and representation. Situations of cultural encounter, we suggest, are an especially powerful site for understanding emotional exchanges, and often misunderstandings, in specific historical contexts.
Southeast Europe has been a region of peculiarly concentrated cross-cultural contact from antiquity to the present day: it is the crossroads of Europe, the Eurasian Steppe, and Mediterranean worlds. Croatia, the location of ECCE, has a unique history as a meeting-point of people, objects, and ideas throughout millennia, inheriting the cultural richness and emotional dichotomies of all civilizations involved in the formation of the region. It is in South East Europe that indigenous Illyrians embraced the Greco-Roman world in Antiquity; that the Carolingian and Byzantine Empires encountered each other in the Early Middle Ages; and the site of the evolution of the triplex confinium in the Early Modern period: the border-zone of the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires and of the Venetian Republic.
The Centre is envisaged as another meeting-point for scholars of history and emotion, where research and practice will develop simultaneously: a network bringing together academics and enthusiasts from different backgrounds, and fostering collaborative research on various topics under the same aegis. International scholars undertaking research on cross-cultural contacts are thus themselves involved in a dynamics of exchange, and we hope that the emotional and cultural dimensions of these scholarly encounters will become a self-reflexive part of the research conversation.