Bradford Durfee Professor of History
Ivo Banac, B.A. Fordham, Ph.D. Stanford, faculty member at Yale since 1977, Croatian historian and politician, in the last decades you have lived a bifurcated life. As a scholar you have set a standard for excellence and dispassion in a critical and contentious field—the history of Eastern Europe, with a special focus on the Balkans, as well as the history of international Communism. You have prodigious publication in two languages, Croatian and English. Your book The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics won the Wayne S. Vucinich Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. Another volume, the Croatian translation of With Stalin Against Tito won the Strossmayer Prize for the best book in the social sciences published in Croatia in 1990. More recently, you edited the Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, the diary of the man who was General Secretary of the Comintern between 1934 and the organization’s dissolution in 1943, and later the Premier of Communist Bulgaria.
It isn’t too many active politicians who can be said not only to have chaired the Council on Russian and East European Studies at Yale, but, more improbably, to have served as a Yale master. Yet you were the Master of Pierson College from 1988-1995, overseeing the lives of Yale undergraduates, hosting master’s teas and study breaks, and worrying about the behavior of the seniors in the Lower Court. From the end of the Serbo-Croatian conflict in 1995 you have had an intense on-the-ground presence in the political life of your native country. Until 1999 you were director of the Institute on Southern Europe at the Central European University, Budapest, where you also directed the OSI/CEU Institute on Southeastern Europe. You served on the Board of the Open Society Archives in Budapest from1996-98. In the world of Croatian politics, you served as President of the Croatian Liberal Party in 2003-2004, where you advocated a merger of all liberal parties in Croatia. During that time you were also Minister of Environmental Protection and Physical Planning. You were Deputy to the Croatian Parliament from 2003 to 2007, and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 2004 to 2008. You are now Chair of the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, which provides assistance to cases on human rights violations.
Professor, college master, scholar, journalist, activist, independent international public figure—you have led a life in the political arena few scholars can match. As you retire from Yale to assume a professorship of History at the University of Zagreb, where you will surely continue to make an important contribution to serious scholarship on the history of the Balkans, as well as to the political life of Croatia, Yale salutes a global scholar and citizen.
Tribute Editor: Penelope Laurans