Milan Bufon, PhD, Principal Research Associate

Institute for Linguistic Studies

Phone: +386 5 663 77 00

Research Areas:

  • Social geography

  • Borders; Border regions; Cross border relationships; Minorities; European integration process


Bufon graduated in geography and ethnology at the Philosophy Faculty of the University of Ljubljana in 1983. For his degree thesis »Regional Geography of the Doberdob Plateau« he was awarded the Slovene national faculty award “Prešernova nagrada” in 1984. He received his M.Sc. degree in geography at the same Faculty of the University of Ljubljana in 1990 – for this thesis (»Ethnic and Regional Developmen of Border Regions: The Case of the Slovene Ethnic Territory in Friuli-Venezia Giulia«) he was awarded the “Tončičeva nagrada” award in Trieste. He defended his Ph.D. thesis on »The Social-geographical Function of the Slovene Population in the Integration Processes in the Gorizia Border Region« in 1995.

He was a research assistant at the Department of Geography at the University of Ljubljana (1986-1993) and part-time researcher at the Slovene Research Institute (SLORI) in Trieste (1985-1995). From 1996 to 1998 he was a full-time researcher of the Science and Research Centre of Koper, where he was leading the Research Team and was the Vice-President of its Scientific Board. He retained a part-time research position at this Centre from 1999 to 2003, where he was Chair of its Institute for Mediterranean Human and Social Studies (up to 2006) and Director of its first National Research Programme »Interdisciplinary Aspects of Mediterranean Slovenia and Areas of Cultural Contact« (1999-2003), and later of the National Research Programme »Areas of Cultural Contact in the Integration Processes« (2004-2019). From 2009 to 2013 he was also Chair of its Institute for Geographical Studies. He was member of tits Scientific Board from 1995 to 2013 and member of its Administration Board in the period 1996-1999. He was elected Scientific Counsellor at the Science and Research Centre in 2001. Since 2019 he is a member of the Institute for Linguistic Research at ZRS Koper.

Bufon advanced from Lecturer to Associate Professor at the University of Ljubljana, where he became the first Chair of Political Geography in 2001. From 2003 to 2016 he served at the newly established University of Primorska, Koper (Slovenia), where he became Full Professor in 2007. He was the co-founder of its Faculty for Humanities, and the founder of its Department of Geography, becaming its first Chair in the period 2001-2007. He was member of the Faculty Senate from 2001 to 2007 and from 2012 to 2016. He was also a Jean Monnet Chair and helped to develop the first international Ph.D. programme in »Diversity Management« with the Universities of Graz and Bologna. At the university level, he became member of its Senate and its first Vice-rector for Research and Development Issues in 2003-2007.

In the period 1998-2008 he was the President of the Scientific Board of the Slovene Research Institute (SLORI) in Trieste, and was President of this research institute in the period 2004-2016. He was also President of the Scientific Board of the Geographical Institute of Ljubljana and member of the Slovene National Committee for Geography in the period 2003-2008.

His bibliography counts more than 400 units, of which more than 10 scientific monographs, more than 50 chapters in books and more than 60 scientific articles. More than 70 scientific works were published in English or other major languages. He is the most cited Slovene human geographer abroad.

For his work Milan Bufon received several awards:

  • Bronze Medal of the Association of Slovene Geographical Societies (2003);
  • awarded the »Glasnik znanosti« award of the Science and Research Centre in Koper (2004 );
  • the »Zlata plaketa« award of the University of Primorska (2010);
  • the Slovene National Agency for Research recognized his book “Ne vrag, le sosed bo mejak” (“No More Shall Foes, But Neighbours Be”) as one of the best Slovene achievements in Humanities for the year 2011 (2013).

Research activity:

Apart from the Research Programme P0-0501-1510 »Areas of Cultural Contact in the Integration Processes« (2004-2019), he was leading the following research projects, funded by the Slovene National Agency for Research:

  • Slovenes in Neighbouring Countries as Content Curricula for Primary and Secundary Schools in Slovenia (1. 4. 2018 – 30. 9. 2019);
  • European Multicultural Regions Between Social and Spatial Convergenece and Divergence (1. 5. 2010 – 30. 4. 2013);
  • ‘We Called Working Force, But People Arrived’ – An Analysis of the Social Structure and Integration Strategies for Foreign Workers in Slovenia (1. 2. 2008 – 30. 1. 2011);
  • Development Perspectives for Slovenian Border Areas after the Enlargement of the Schengen Space to Slovenia (1. 1. 2007 – 31. 12. 2009);
  • The Realization of the Common Slovene Cultural Space and the Cross-Border Integration in the Context of European Cooperation (1. 10. 2006 – 30. 9. 2008);
  • Southeastern Europe and the Republic of Slovenia in the Perspective of the Current European Territorial Processes (1. 7. 2004 – 30. 6. 2007);
  • Advantages and Deficiencies of the Sporting Market in Slovenia (1. 9. 2004 – 30. 11. 2006);
  • A Chronological Survey of Monotheistic Religions in the Northeastern Adriatic (1. 7. 2004 – 30. 6. 2006);
  • The Social Integration Function of Schools in the Areas of Cultural Contact and Social Connection: The Case of the Italo-Slovene Border Region (1. 11. 2001 – 31. 10. 2004);
  • The Function of Compared Models in the Construction of Intercultural Philosophy (1. 7. 2002 – 30. 6. 2004);
  • The Function of Border and Ethnically Mixed Areas in the Cross-Border Integration Processes of Slovenian State: The Case of Slovenian Istria (1. 1. 1996 – 30. 6. 2001). This was also the first national research project, achieved by the Science and Research Centre of Koper as a new Public Research Institute.

Bufon lectured several times across Europe, the US and Japan. He was member of several international associations, such as: Società Geografica Italiana; IGU – International Geographic Union, World Political Map Commission; AAG – Association of American Geographers; IBRU – International Boundaries Research Unit; ASEN – Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism; MRG – Minority Rights Group; ECPR – Standing Group on Regionalism. He promoted the »Adriatic Forum«, a regional international geographical association that met for the first time in Koper in 2008.

He is or was member of several Editorial Boards of national and international scientific journals, and organizer of several international conferences, such as: Borders and Border Communities on the Eve of the New Millenium (Portorož, 2000); Borders as Barriers and Bridges: The Case of Slovenia, Ireland and Northern Mediterranean (Koper, 2001); two Conference Sessions on European Union Expansion in Central and Eastern Europe at the AAG Conference in Los Angeles (2002); Mountains without Borders, held at the Three-Border between Italy, Slovenia and Austria (2004); Dayton – Ten Years After: Conflict Resolution and Co-operation Perspectives, organized in cooperation with the Slovenian Presidency of the OCSE in Sarajevo (2005); X ICML – International Conference on Minority Languages (Trieste, 2005); (Re)integration and Development Issues in Multicultural and Border Regions (Portorož, 2011).

He was member of several Slovene national bodies for research or expert bodies of the Slovene Government and Parliament in the period 1999-2007; member of the EU ERA-MORE evaluation body (2003), member of several national evaluation commissions within the EU member states; member of the Italian minority organization CONFEMILI, and member of the organization of the Slovenes in Italy SKGZ.

Bufon is also a fiction writer: he published a book of short stories in 1984 in Trieste and prepared a personal book for each of his two sons when they became 18-old.