March 9, 2009

Milos Jovanovic ’07 Receives Prestigious European Research Prize

Undergraduate research set him on path of historical study

Lafayette’s undergraduate-only focus allowed Milos Jovanovic ’07 to cut his teeth on significant academic research. Continuing his interest in research, he recently was awarded the Marc Bloch Prize for the best new master’s thesis in early modern and modern European history at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.“I am very excited and deeply honored,” says Jovanovic, who earned his master’s degree last summer at Central European University in Budapest. “This award shows there is interest in papers that apply a multidisciplinary approach to areas which are traditionally linked to political and national history. This is an important step to better understand heterogeneous cultural spaces like southeastern Europe.”

Jovanovic’s thesis, “Constructing the National Capital: De-Ottomanization and Urban Transformation in 19th Century Belgrade,” examines the disappearance of Ottoman historical heritage from Belgrade, capital city of present-day Serbia, in the 19th century. He studied sanitary, cultural, and social practices while applying urban theory and sociological research to analyze documents from 1830-70.

At Lafayette, Jovanovic collaborated with a team of six professors and students to create a comprehensive and searchable database about the characteristics of empires and colonies throughout the course of history. He says the opportunity to conduct such high-level research on the undergraduate level showed him the possibilities available in the academic world.

“It definitely helped me understand what it takes to be a historian,” says the history and international affairs graduate. “It helps students approach research at a level they usually don’t encounter before graduate school. It helps you figure out if a career in academia is something you want to pursue.”

Jovanovic encountered numerous opportunities throughout his master’s work to attend conferences and lectures. He traveled to the Ottoman Archives and Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul for an event on urban cosmopolitanism sponsored by the Europe in the Middle East–The Middle East in Europe program.

“I had the chance to inspect and hold documents ranging from the 11th-15th centuries, a truly fascinating experience,” he says. “It was remarkable to be able to feel a very mundane, human connection to people who were reading and writing these documents half a millennium ago.”

Jovanovic is applying to Ph.D. programs in Europe and the U.S. to continue his study of urban history in the Balkan context.

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