Based on Kaplan's accounts in Balkan Ghosts, would you say that women in the Balkans are better off now than in the past? 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Kaplan's view of women in the Balkans is shrouded in how he feels about the future of the region.  Consider his assessment of how the Balkan Region is poised to be seen in the modern setting:

[The region is] a powder keg for 21st-century cultural and religious warfare between the worldwide house of Islam, led by the Turks, and that great swath of Eastern Orthodox Christianity spreading from Athens all the way to Muscovy.

In this, there is a fairly dour view of where the state of affairs are heading for the fragmented condition of the region.  While there is an ending of how "The Enlightenment" is "breaching" the region, which could indicate women being better off, the end tone of the work is one in which there is great uncertainty in the region, as a whole.

Yet, having said that, I would think that Kaplan is more in line with believing that women have a better chance of finding validation of their voice in the modern setting than in the past.  Kaplan argues that the fragmentation of the region was embedded in its history, something that Communism failed to understand and remedy.  In this, women were relegated into the "mass" and not understood.  The supposed cohesiveness of Soviet rule or of a weak "Western" vision of democracy were elements that did not necessarily acknowledge women's voices.  With his "Enlightenment" conclusion, there is more hope to believe that if women's voices are going to be validated and acknowledged, it will be in this particular setting, the modern one, than what was evident in the past.  While Kaplan does not actively speak to this, I think that it is clear from the ending of the work and all the elements that drove to it, that the future, one with fragmentation and uncertainty, at least contains the propensity for women's voices to be validated and women being better off in the modern condition than anything in the past.

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