ANDREI PIPPIDI – MIHAI BERZA: REVISITED
The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization is preparing the launch of a commemorative volume titled “De la Méditerranée à la Mer Noire”, which will include 40 published and unpublished articles and studies in French, Italian and German authored by renowned historian Mihai Berza (1907-1978) coordinated, edited and revised by Professor Andrei Pippidi. The volume is part of the ongoing collection “Romanian scientists in Levantine research”. In his foreword, “Mihai Berza: revisited”, Professor Andrei Pippidi highlighted the following:
“At a time of reinvigorated research into the European South-East, only recently highlighted by the Bucharest Congress of September 2019, this collection of studies aims to return the legacy of renowned historian Mihai Berza (1907-1978) to the limelight. It comprises many of his contributions to Romanian and Balkan historiography, but also contains several studies attesting to his view of the post-Carolingian West. In truth, the author’s mindset and activity bear the markings of a singular destiny.
The history of the European South-East, taken as a complex system of interlocking variables to which those pertaining to Romanian history are also ascribed, only occupies an intermediary space in Mihai Berza’s vision, situated somewhere between national history and the history of Western Europe. Berza himself evoked the image of three concentric circles, in order to coherently illustrate the interests of the great Nicolae Iorga. His scientific endeavours were oriented towards highlighting interlocking aspects of Romanian culture, either directly or mediated by their surrounding environment, in comparison to Western culture; and his ambition – pedagogical, above all – was to elaborate a broad synthesis by which to highlight, by way of his considerable experience, the great cultural trends that traverse universal history through social or intellectual movements. The issue of “not being able to see the forest for the trees” has always represented a danger to historians – especially in the Balkans – were they to be more readily seduced by the diversity of particular features rather than by overarching unity. The goal set out by Berza through his research was to come to regard the peoples and state formations of South-Eastern Europe as collective members of a greater civilizational whole. Consequently, this great task he wished to pursue, with the aid of foreign colleagues whose acquaintance he made during international reunions – without however aspiring to a leadership position – gave him confidence in the viability of a long-term project. This aspect is apparent from his reflections on several landmark studies by which he contributed to the clarification of South-Eastern Europe’s significance for the humanities as a whole.
In collecting these fragments of a considerable opus – made all the more essential as some are either unpublished or spread across difficult to access publications – into one volume, we consider to have acted in service to the historical sciences and to have fulfilled our duty towards the memory of an eminent scholar.”