chapter  11
31 Pages

CULTURE, POLITICS AND IDENTITY IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

BySpyros A. Sofos

Yugoslavia, as a political and social project, was, from its inception, precarious. Former Yugoslavia is an area where battles over not only territory but also history and culture have been frequent and intense since the inception of the notion of South Slav unity at the end of the last century A variety of political projects has inspired the political imagination of the élites and the peoples of the area throughout the past two centuries, ranging from monocultural nation-state, to multicultural territorial-statebuilding experiments. In the post-war period, the failure of the Yugoslav Federation to provide and sustain a collective political imaginary which would not suppress the multicultural character of Yugoslav society, and to address issues of socio-economic justice and development, provided a fertile ground for the re-emergence and strengthening of mono-ethnic nationalist movements and discourses; not for the first time, nationalist movements in all republics and provinces of former Yugoslavia have attempted, apparently successfully, to construct nationalist histories and cultures,1 testifying to the long and continuous existence of their respective nations in the territory of former Yugoslavia, and hence, their rightful sovereignty over contested territories and identities.