Hello everybody, my name is Giuseppe Pio Cascavilla and I am an independent researcher born, grown up and educated in Italy, but at the moment based in London. I graduated in Political Science at the University of Bari and there I also earned my Master degree (always in Political Science) and a PhD in History.
My main research interests are the Early Modern History of the Balkans and of Eastern-Central Europe states, and I particularly investigate the connections between these areas with Western Europe.
Why Balkans and Eastern Europe? Well, this is how everything started…In the early nineties my grandpa used to bring me to a little new market in my homeplace, Foggia. This was full of sellers coming from a foreign country that was almost unknown to me: Poland. These Poles were the first, actual and alive sign in my little city of Southern Italy, that the Cold War came to an end. I was a teen boy and I loved to go there, because I could taste the fascination of exotic faces and objects. I discovered something I thought it was far away and this was, very briefly and without clamor, the beginning of my interest for Eastern Europe. This market, to give you an idea, looked like a small version of the Ecseri market in Budapest (a huge flea market), full of Soviet era memorabilia, such as banknotes and coins, brooches, toys (I still recall the joy I felt for a huge remote controlled model of a Soviet tank T55 my grandpa bought for me) which captured my attention. It also offered cheap and good tools for every kind of use which attracted more my grandpa. Curiously this market still exists, and locals keep calling it “the Poles’ market” even if today the sellers are mostly North Africans and their goods are made in China. Times change and flows of people with them, but it fascinates me the thing that the market is always the most traditional way to know other cultures and ideas.
In the same period, the Balkan outbreak increased my attention for this lands which common people used to call “Est-Europa”.
I wanted to understand better why people who lived on the other coast of the Adriatic Sea were hurting each other, showing off their distinctive symbols and their values to distinguish themselves from the enemy-former neighbour. What shook me was the moment I realised how close the former Yugoslavia is to my birthplace in physical terms, but how far it looked to my mind. The same effect had the newly acquired awareness, after my aunt came back from a holiday, that a country like Hungary is quite close to the Italian border more or less in the same way Germany is, but to me the former sounded distant like Siberia, while the latter was perceived more like an extension of Milan.
These distortions exerted a weird fascination on me and they sparked my curiosity. Thus I started to dig into the history of these regions and I got captured by their richness, and while I was a student at university I decided they were worth becoming a project of research and a pivotal aspect of my intellectual life (and later personal too). Since when I was a kid, I have learned many things and understood several features of European history, but the thirst of knowledge is still there, and it leads me to further unveiled paths.
Why this blog? I am an independent researcher and many people suggested me to open this blog as an outlet for my research and experience. I hope this space will become not only a way to let my studies be more known but also a place which stimulates the discussion over historical matters and the exchange of ideas.