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English  Robert Elsie

Writer, translator, interpreter, specialist in Albanian studies


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Johann Georg von Hahn

The Discovery of Albania:
Travel Writing and Anthropology in
the Nineteenth-Century Balkans

Selected texts introduced and translated from the German
by Robert Elsie

ISBN 978-1-78453-292-5
I.B. Tauris, London 2015
214 pp.

Johann Georg von Hahn – a nineteenth-century Austrian diplomat and explorer – is generally considered to be the founder of Albanian Studies as a scholarly discipline. It was he who first studied the Balkan country and its people in a more comprehensive fashion, and who brought them to the attention of the academic world. In this sense, it could be said that it was Hahn who ‘discovered’ the Albanian nation for the scholarly world.

Despite this acclaim, his work has not been available in English until now. In this volume, Robert Elsie has translated Hahn’s most important works relating to his travels and studies in Albania during the mid-nineteenth century. Hahn’s interests were broad: history, geography, language, literature, popular beliefs and traditions, politics, trade and economics. He was especially interested in the tribes of Albania and Kosovo and made several ethnographic studies of the cultures and traditions he encountered on his travels – including the Kelmendi, Hoti and Kastrati tribes.

This volume, bringing together the most important of Hahn’s writings on his travels and Albanian ethnography, together with this most interesting correspondence, will be invaluable reading for scholars of Balkan history and anthropology.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Part I: Travel Writings
Travels through Albania
Travels through Kosovo
Travels through Northern Albania

Part II: Oral Literature and Ethnographic Writings
Legend of the Founding of the Kelmendi Tribe
Legend of the Founding of the Hoti and Triepshi Tribes
Legend of the Founding of the Kastrati Tribe
Albanian Folk Tales from the Island of Poros
Account of Pederasty in Central and Northern Albania
Southern Albanian Love Songs

Part III: Correspondence
Letters to the Scottish historian, George Finlay
Letters to the Archbishop of Antivari, Carl Pooten