Mapping the Balkan and escaping to Europe

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The questions of where are the actual boundaries of the Balkans actually include many traumatic issues of belonging, identity and imagery and they involve the outwitting of geopolitical theories. In my opinion, the very aspiration for drawing precise boundaries is meaningless, because, for example, saying that Croatia really geographically belongs or does not belong to the Balkans does not mean much, considering that it is indeed Balkan identity by its specificity (Luketić, 2013). In addition, the stringent definition of Balkan borders is often invited by those who wouldn’t be covered by these borders, and such geographical precision is actually caused by the desire to get away from the fear of the Balkans. Talking about the borders of the Balkans without neurosis means talking about something changeable, about mixing and effects in the sphere of culture which is widely understood, and not about the strict mapping, drawing, and defining of the area in accordance with specific political, ideological or cultural conceptions. Croatia is – among other things – the Balkans, wherever we think the borderline of Balkan itself passes through, just like Slovenia is the Balkans because of its history and identity strongly determined by what was happening in the “real” geographical undoubtedly Balkans (cf. Rihtman-Auguštin, 1999). Let’s look further at what is cooking in the same imaginary cauldron, how to evaluate it and dispense the Balkans, and European ingredients. To geographically belong to the Balkans for many local residents means not to belong to Europe, therefore implies disconnection from the desirable society which, in the collective consciousness, assures civility, civility, and progress, in short, bright future (Todorova, 1999). The possibility of the coexistence of the two areas, the possibility that in one of the cultural specificity both paradigms are meeting, or more different paradigm, and Balkan-European hybrid identity consciously lives, without neurosis, usually is not taken into account (hereby I agree with similar argument in: Luketić, 2013). Being a European automatically excludes the possibility of being  Balkanite because everything that is Europe was created in a shared awareness exactly opposite to the Balkans.

For a current position that you can be either Europe or the Balkans, not both, and the belief that the recognition of multiple, plural identities jeopardizes supposedly important, national identity, most responsible were the local political and intellectual elites (Hammond, 2004). They defined the magic circle of identity: what remains inside, in the zone of the permissible, and what is out there, the empty space being ousted. They don’t support that circle by producing constant characteristic narrations about “us” and “them.” We need to destruct/ decode such rigid, identity narratives based on the tense duality as a kind of “zero position” to accept hybridism and heterogeneity, the “Bakhtinian” polyphony of cultures. Collective identities are usually variable and regularly depend on the current ideological and political groups and social tendencies of the majority (Jambrešić-Kirin, 2004). They are always constructed according to the requirements or objectives of a social group, they are neither natural nor permanent, but only present themselves in this way. With greater mobility, speed, globalization and everything what characterizes modernity, and what Zygmunt Bauman meant by the period of “liquid modernity” (as opposed to the earlier “solid modernity”), identities are becoming more variable, unstable and fragmented, which means they are increasingly and rapidly creating and dis- solving. National gives way to the cultural, great narratives behind the establishment of national identity are replaced with a series of smaller narratives that an individual can take as needed and discard. In addition, the words of historian John R. Gillis say that in the transnational world of capitalism of the late 20th  century an increasing number of people are forced to deal with multiple identities and multiple memories (Todorova, 1999). But this “transnational world”, typical for the West, was the future in the Balkans at the end of the last century. However, not even today it does not mark these areas. One-dimensional national identities (as they are given in the nineties) still quite impossible open recognition of hybridism and multiplicity of identity in the public sphere. For the area of the former Yugoslavia, it’s characteristic (and that what distances this space from the time shown by the clock in the west, neoliberal zone, and we don’t think about the delay/retardation/inadequacy, but in a different development) that the strong national identities, as they were shaped in the nineties, were constructed in Europe almost a century ago.

In Croatia, Europe appears as an object of desire and determines the most local fantasies, while the  Balkan is averse and it is trying in every way to escape. Balkans in  Croatia and identity binary equation can never replace the position with Europe, as it is for example the case in Serbia. In fact, even when Europe finds favor when weakening the intensity of identification fantasies about some current political events (such as court judgments in Hague,   the criticism of European diplomacy, etc.), the Balkans in Croatia is never taking her place. Here comes to reversals, but only to a temporary lowering of Europe at the level of the Balkans, where it is often revived and narratives by which “we” are more Europe rather than the Member States of the European Union (Rihtman-Auguštin, 1999). So, in regards to my research, the following questions logically arise: What is the content of these Croatian fantasies about Europe? In one version it’s a fantasy about the community at a high civilization stage of development with stable democracies. I say fantasy rather than reality, given that in many countries of the European Union repressive policies exist towards foreigners and immigrants, and in many social groups racist refusal on the existence of the others. European hyper-correct and decorated democracy is not simply established in the reality, even today in the political sphere dominated by the pursuit of achieving the maximum possible democratic. In another version, it is Croatian fantasy on Europe that unites many cultures, on a supranational identity in which differences have a common root and a unique heritage and therefore can be uniquely represented. After all, the idea of the unity of different cultures is one of the basic notes and documents of the Union itself. But that unity of culture or supranational European identity also arose after some reinterpretation of individual cultures and the appropriate selection in which “European” take only elements that can prove

the imaginary identity construction. (In this selection they are, of course, removed the Balkans and all Eastern areas as possible areas of Europe.) In the third version, the fantasy of Europe is recognized in particular discursive understanding and striving for the same values of civility, tolerance, dialogue, openness, etc. In other words, the presentation of these values as authentically European means that they have a long history and are, apparently, recognized just in Europe. In this way, European history is reinterpreted again in a way to overemphasize certain components, while for example, religious or national struggle, the imperialist policy of repression of some rulers, etc. are kept quiet.

At the same time the Balkans or Eastern European history is interpreted mostly with regard to such events and phenomena, which have led to a situation in which, for example, violence, aggression, tyranny, arbitrary power and mass ferocity are naturalized as natural characteristics of these “non-European” cultures. So it’s not just about “Europeanisms”  as code or paradigm of life, measurement and interpretation of the world where it is difficult to escape, but about creating additional value, a surplus of imagination, which indicates that we have stepped into the world of psychoanalytic, almost tangible fantasies. Just the climax of these fantasies opens up the possibility of strong disapproval or hatred when this object of desire, refuses to accept “us” under its aegis (Kourvertais, 2002). Generally speaking, the relationship of many countries – primary Croatia and Serbia where which is the most im- important landmark in the construction of identity – as conceived by Europe is twofold: on one hand, to be in the Balkans in the pre- vailing notions means to be at the gates of Europe, on its bumper, a historical mission to save Europe, the preserve West world from the Balkans or eastern barbarism. The Balkans is perceived as the last stop before entering the East, the lobby of the Orient, as an area where the age-old battles are led for the salvation of Europe in civilization, religious and cultural terms. To the local people who are more easily reconciled with possible Balkan origin, there must be an appropriate reason – like the one on a special mission of salvation the  West civilization values (Hammond, 2004). It is a historically recognizable and widespread myth of the bulwark that is strongly present in the Croatian and Serbian collective consciousness and history; specifically, it is present in different interpretations of Balkan history (Todorova, 2004). The face of the myth of the bulwark/safeguard represents a myth where the Balkan is a bridge of the East/Orient, to another religion and another culture, and this myth of the bridge was repeatedly ac- actualized in history. In both cases, when present as a bulwark and bridge, on a symbolic level, takes the central edge converting the margins to the center. But as the European perception of the edge is overstretched and politically, ideologically, and culturally marked, the Croatian/Balkan perception about the central role in western history is the same – both are a reflection of the inner identity neurosis of a particular culture. On the other hand, as a result of a never quite achieved desire for union with Europe, the counteraction appears a kind of hatred for Europe that has betrayed “us” or hasn’t sufficiently recognized “our” credit.

In Croatian official narratives the place of such Europe, as we have seen, remains vacant, it cannot be filled with semantical different extremes, while in the Serbian narratives Europe replaces the Balkans. It becomes the bearer of true civilization, and cultural and spiritual values, while Europe stumbled and steeped in materialism, dishonesty, and interest fight. Thus, the general concept of Europe in the Balkan nation schizoid alternate attraction and repulsion relationships, attachment and hatred, which clearly indicates that without establishing a relation to Europe it can- not determine Balkan’s own position and conceive its own identity. The narrative of Europe is the reason why the people of the Balkans are so often thrown from one extreme to another, from ecstasy to despair, from devotion to hatred. Writer and philosopher Boris Buden summed up this ambivalence very well: Eu- rope is not just a place where we’ve always been, but the goal towards which we are moving. Its presence in our country is experienced as strongly as her absence. It is the object of our worship and de- sire, as well as the subject of disappointment and backlash. As its chosen nation who saves it from its bitterest enemies, sometimes from itself, we are more European than Europe itself is, but anti-European from it.

On the basis of the previous argumentation, I will formulate a hypothesis as follows: For Croatian society, the Balkans presents the key concept in the construction of national identity and also the strongest social trauma since the beginning of the nineties. To separate from the Balkans and to distinguish itself from its neighbors, former “fraternal” republics, primarily Serbs, Bosniaks, and then the other ex-Yu “suspects” twenty years ago were the foundations of the design of a new homogeneous Croatian identity (here I rely on the ideas developed in Jambrešić-Kirin, 2004). This identity was suitable to Gellners’ formula “one nation – one culture – one language”, and from it they tried to turn off all the assets that were recognized in other nations, i.e., indicating to some, at least minimal familiarity with Balkan culture. In the prevailing perception of the Croatian intellectual and political elite during the nineties, the Balkans is perceived exclusively as negative and it was identified as the major culprit for the centuries-old “Golgotha of Croatian nation” (in Serbia, as we have seen, there is a parallel narrative about the “Golgotha of the Serbian people”). Ac- cording to this view, the Croatian nation with their identity and cultural heritage belongs to Europe, but in history endured great sacrifices for their unfortunate spatial arrangement at the “crossroads of the Worlds” (line clash of civilizations, the bulwark of Europe) and the expansionist policies of other nations and national communities (“Turks” “Austrians”, Serbs, etc.). It seems that the Croatian public and socio-political reality of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century’s fear of “returning to the Balkans” was huge.

In fact, back in the mid-80s of the 20th century in Croatia (and parallel narratives exist elsewhere, notably also in Slovenia) became dominant reinterpretation of history according to which the Croatian nation is the biggest victim because the other

  • neighbors – economically exploit it in various ways and secretly destroyed it. (Examples are the narratives of Serbian “colonization” of the Adriatic, parasitic economy in which the rich republic feed on the poor, centralization in Belgrade, etc). With the independence, the elites were revived in the past the present narratives of nation-victim, together with its rhetoric, metaphors and figures, as a general truth, that is, the total synthesis of Croatian history. To further confirm these narratives and obscure national neuro- sis due to the geographic origin –  among others, the  Balkans
  • The 80s has fully accepted the negative imagery of the Balkans. From the historical dustbin, it pulled up and reaffirmed the myth of the bulwark that is supposed to give the nation a greater reason for living on the territory of the Balkan (Rihtman-Auguštin, 1999). The greater reason was the Croatian historic mission to defend the borders of Europe from the barbaric onslaught from the East. Balkans has been, in the last twenty years in every way (geographically, symbolically, politically, culturally…) equated with Serbia (and Slavic Orthodoxy), Yugoslavia, and all ideas about the unity, regardless of what the historical context they occurred in. Some Serbian intellectuals, as we have seen, have already appropriated the Balkans and given it certain meaning, but also there were some Croatian intellectuals at that time willing to accept such a semantic conquest of the Balkans and further negative mental food imagination about it (detailed examples can be found in Luketić, 2013). In addition, contemporary Croatian geographers, historians, writers and others point out that it was in the time of Yugoslavia that the concept of Balkan has been established in a way that has expanded the borders that no longer overlap with the borders of the Ottoman Empire. Thus, symbolic and imaginative geography was built in conformity with a significant part of Croatian and Serbian elites, although these elites were apparently in opposite political positions.

The minting of Croatian national identity stereotypes was paired with each other, in a domino effect of one’s determination which has entailed another, equally hostile, accusatory, and negative. The Balkans are tied with Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia with Serbia, and Serbia with violence, backwardness, primitiveness, barbarity, etc., i.e. with the historic oppression of Croatian people, the Četnik movement, “the appropriation of the fruits of someone else’s work,” etc. Balkans then over Yugoslavia and Serbia identified with communism: “dark times” unfreedom, despotism, state repression, persecution of dissenters. Such a common position has gotten a negative imagination of Eastern Europe originated in the West and partly accepted in Eastern Europe (Kourvertais, 2002). Once again, all this is a good example of general Orientalist notions, the fantasy of Orientalism, Asians, and Byzantism, to establish a single negative, a-historical imagery, adaptable to all situations and all times. Ease of bonding stereotypes shows such as this quote from the collections of Croatia and the Western Balkans, which summarizes the official nationalist narrative of the nineties: Balkan viruses are the legacy of the Ottoman Empire and Yugoslavia. In this spiral of stereotypes one could hear this message – Ottomans conquered the Balkans and for centuries ruled despotically in the area, and then it was ransacked by Austrians, Hungarians, Italians… in short, all of them who could, all of our neighbors. In the pre-war Kingdom, Serbs dominated as the biggest “Balkan bullies,” and they have devastated “us”, but in a slightly different way – economically, culturally, and linguistically (Hammond, 2004). After the Second World War, the Balkans was entirely conquest by the communists, and again, they ruled over “us” to be true, under the different ideo- logical sign, but just as violent and “against the will of the people”. To belong to the Balkans in the last twenty years in the Croatian official discourse implies renewing or accepting “our” disastrous relationship with  Serbia,  Yugoslavia and communism, or the Orient, i.e. with all the mental outlook and identity negative legacies that these stereotypical notions implied. In other terms, it means to opt for democracy overall.  The  Balkans is so constantly open to new and emerging negative fantasies, its semantics is not closed, but it can be, according to the interests of political or social elites, updated as new content is dangerous. But stereotypes sometimes have coverage in reality, real source of meaning that is exaggerated, the raucous imagination swells, spreads, and sometimes completely changed. Also, once formed ideas often come to life and build a new detail in the later period (De- trez et al. 2005). For example, the stereotype of Serbia as the “right” (masculine) Balkans in recent history often comes back and rebuilds – it is part of the theory of  “Balkan mentality” and superiority of the “Dinara type”, part of the narrative of Slavic, and Orthodox as the essence of the Balkans, and part of the discourse of many foreign travelers on the Balkans during the 20th century (Rebecca West, more recent, Peter Handke). Such stereotype includes certain characters, rituals, symbols, and strategies (violence, passion, machismo, culture, weapons, etc.) (Kourvertais, 2002). Singular here is replaced by all actual and potential plural; Balkans is presented only as a certain type of uniform indoor and culture, while its diversity, multiplicity, and contradictions are reversed (Paić, 2002). The Imaginarium of Serbs as prototypes of what is true, wild Balkans, all-time barbarian, has accepted or had brought to life again, Croatian national ideology of the nineties of the 20th century onwards. For it, it was the only appropriate way of defining and representing Balkanism. Obviously, it was easier to mobilize the nation’s defense and war-fare stereotypes and form a national identity in opposition to the menacing, Serbian Balkans, but they were trying to show wider space in a different way and to distinguish the aggression of the Serbian and Yugoslav armies from stereotypical perceptions of the Serbian people and its alleged essential Balkanism (Detrez et al 2005). It was leaped on the map of exclusion and strengthening of collective neurosis, rather than to break down, ironically or relativist narratives about violent, Serbian Balkans and find a less frustrating perception of Balkan components of Croatian identity. However, such a thing was not even expected of the former political elite, because essentialism and binarisms, which are the lifeblood of any stereotypes, I would argue, corresponded to the nationalist political discourse.

Summarizing previous reflections, I will articulate above- mentioned ideas in the following conclusion: The last two decades of Croatian official policy – but also the media, journalism, science, culture – are wholeheartedly engaged to get the country out of the Balkans, to geographically, and with identity and mentality, and symbolically join it to Europe or Central Europe and the Mediterranean. If they can’t do it in any other way, then at least to rename this area, find alternative concepts and mitigate geographic implacability. Another name for the Balkans is always euphemism; it has the function of alleviating or masking the possible meanings and cultural affiliation. One of these aliases for the Balkans and the Balkan peninsula was Southeastern Europe; it was understood that territorially it includes Albania, Bosnia-Herzego- vina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and conditional Greece, Moldova, Slovenia, Croatia, Turkey (Map- pes-Niediek, 2005).

However, this term uncomfortable evokes Nazi geopolitics (Südosteuropa), and therefore it was avoided. On the other hand, the definition of Eastern Europe and its meaning is narrowed and imprecise, because in the narrow sense it’s used exclusively for Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, and the European part of Russia, while in the broader sense it’s connected with all countries in which up until 1990 there was a communist government there (Savić & Bijelić, 2005.). Eastern Europe is strongly related to the Cold War division of Europe, and also contains a number of negative connotations, to a great extent these meanings were lost and become semantically fluid after the fall of the Wall because a solid border that is realistic and was the very backbone of the semantics of the term itself has leveled German unification and ideological twist states that have until recently been “behind the curtain”. Today, the political tendency to throw that term out of service is very notable, so (as Maria Todorova pointed out) they are increasingly talking only about Central Europe or Russia. On symbolic level, the displacement of Eastern Europe notion means to supersede negative communist legacy, i.e. dangerous Soviet/ Russian geopolitical, but also mental occupation of this part of Europe. Today, in public discourse in these areas the name Western Balkans is completely accepted as well as an administrative and political term that the European Union forces. In Croatia in the  early nineties, it was fiercely criticized and interpreted as pushing the country into a new Balkan integration, i.e., a new Yugoslav community in which it would be worth equal proportions of power as in the past.

Nonetheless, over time the term has become reality, largely because it is imposed as a necessary part of the  official discourse of the Balkan states to join the European Union. It is actually a concept that “hangs in the air”, because in addition to the Western Balkans, there is (ironically) no administrative “East” or “North” or the “South Balkans” (Compared to Eastern Europe and Western Europe where it exists, as already pointed out in: Detrez et al. 2005). Moreover, in contrast to the West as there is no east, north-south of the Balkans, or South does exist, just as semantically negative South relative to the positive North. Also, the space to the east of the state, such as Romania and Bulgaria have become, rather than western, recognized by members of the Union, so they are more in political terminology, and not tied to the Balkans (Jambrešić-Kirin, 2004). But the adjective phrase in Western Balkans and the West does not have a precise definition of space, it only seeks to mitigate the dissatisfaction of the population that remained in the Balkans and achieve easier to accept applications for accession to the Union. In addition, the adjective Western symbolic makes it easy to the EU that the people from the edge of the continent, where there are so many writers, scientists or politicians in history to be considered barbaric and non-European, however, accepts into its society. The term Western Balkans represents also discursively smearing eye to easily implement the ruling European politics “civilizing” of this area, and it actually includes quite specific interests of the European countries in the Balkans. European administration launched the very concept of Western Balkans in the early nineties and later introduced it to one document as an official political designation for all the new states of the former Yugoslavia, minus Slovenia (which is already a member), plus Albania.

It is especially used after the Council of Ministers of the EU established a committee for the Western Balkans. The term was used before, but in neutral, geographical terms, in the travelogues or other texts from the 19th century (Kourvertais, 2002). Today, especially after a conference of the Council of the EU for the Balkans in Vienna in 1998 it has became the official policy of the European administration and it’s mentioned in all documents of the Union whenever it is about (geo) political strategies towards this area. As usual, the notion of political discourse in the public sphere expanded and became a universal, supranational, and unifying definition. Such spread of political terminology and the general idea of the rootedness of Western Balkans shows its good acceptance in the tourist discourse, so the world’s most famous tourist guide publisher, Lonely Planet, published a guide titled “Western Balkans Travel Guide” in 2006. In it are included Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, and Slovenia (from the later editions in 2009, Slovenia has been deleted and attached in the guide for Central Europe). However, the editorial Lonely can easily move all the local countries from one to the other territorial definition – which is actually mitigating represent you stand on hybridism and plurality of this area – for example, their guide on Eastern Europe from 2011 includes 21 countries, including those in the Balkans: Albania, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

During the nineties, as mentioned, the European strategy for the Western Balkans partly included projects of which the Croatian public policy publically despised (such as the loose confederation of Carl Bildt). But part of Croatian politics was satisfied with such projects, because they justify some power moves, masked the failure of government policy abroad and well served to frighten and domestication the nation. Tuđman’s government publicly condemned the name of the Western Balkans and the strategies associated with it, regardless of their content, adding that he still thinks only about one – an effort to put Croatia again under the authority of Yugoslavia and Serbia. According to Davor Domazet, military personnel and advocates of conspiracy theories in the Croatian version: The Western Balkans is a clone of ‘Great- er Serbia’. In his book “The Western Balkans” publicist Anđelko Milardović believes that for Croatia it’s a false strategy to escape from the Balkans at all costs and alignment with countries such as Slovenia after 2000. Very few authors specify what is the true meaning of the “Balkan policy” – as stereotypically assumed that the adjective “Balkan” means. According to Milardović, they wanted to emphasize the third dimension as Croatian Med- Mediterranean, Central Europe, and the Balkans. Therefore, for this author acute political issue is what Croatia can do to get away from the Balkans in every sense, even if it’s West (“Croatia needs quality of service to ascend from the Western Balkans to the west balcony”). On the basis of these and similar narration is banal Tuđman’s equation – HDZ equals the state independence and European orientation, and the opposition and critical intelligence – new Yugoslav and Balkan communities. Over the past year the term Western Balkans, but the Balkans in general, was often written in Croatian geography, and Duško Topalović believes that European Union has intellectually failed in introduction of the term ‘Western Balkans’ in the official political lexicon (Rihtman-Auguštin, 1999). Therefore, he proposes new aliases, such as “The Eastern region, eastern Europe, the Adriatic-Danubian space, etc”, but adds that this is a “problem of political bureaucracy of the European Union”. For him, Croatia it is by no means in the Balkans, therefore not addressed to neighbors, does not share with them common tradition, experience, narrative, heritage and must be separated from the “Balkan politics.” And because of this, debate on Croatia’s membership to geographical Balkans still remains at the theoretical level. It is important to prove that Croatia does not belong to a political Balkans, and it is not done by deliberation, by the specific state policy. According to Topalović, the advantages of our position are: “geo-economic nature and relate to the economic evaluation of different geographical content, including geographic location. If Croatia we know how to timely take advantage of them, it will be of no importance where they are geopolitical classified – in the Western Balkans, in Europe’s southeast, in the Adriatic-Balkan area or elsewhere. Then it will be fully confirmed and Croatian cultural and geographical diversity, eclipsed the current situation in which the social mentality of the spatial components of the national minimum, those in the Balkans, a dominant political and social position (Topalović, 1997).”

On the other hand, the concept of the Balkans and the general alignment of Croatia in the Balkans isn’t accepted by the geographer Owen Feletar. His article “Misconceptions of nonexistent Peninsula” (published in the popular-science journal) illustrates one type of interpretation by which negates the Balkans as a concept, so that negates the fact that it’s about the peninsula and in the general area that according to the principles of geography and cultural geography could have any sort of common denominator. Feletar argues that “some part of the land could be geographically a peninsula, sea (water) leg must be longer than the land”, and that “in the so-called Balkan Peninsula this is not the case”

(Rihtman-Auguštin, 1999). The author disclaims any cultural, historical and social cohesion of Croatian with the Balkan area, because, as he claims, Croatia for centuries “belonged to and built the Mediterranean Roman Catholic culture and Central Euro-pean cultural circle” and its inhabitants “cannot accept any ‘Bal- kan’ qualifications”. Even if there is some geographic Balkans, continues Feletar, Croatia does not belong to it, because it is only “the Mediterranean and Central European country”, and therefore he sends this invitation to “Croatia’s geography and science, especially the political elite to maximally insist on ex- plaining the scientific interpretation of the actual components of the geographical position of Croatia. Classification of Croatia in any frames or names of ‘Balkans’, ‘Western Balkans’, ‘Balkan Peninsula’ and the like, for that reason, cannot be accepted.

In my opinion, his text, as an example of the dominant type of national discourse on the Balkans, may be challenged on a number of grounds: first, the Balkans has been implemented as a geographical and cultural concept for more than a century and at the very least delayed his denial. Also, perseverance on the definition of the peninsula as an imaginary triangle whose land site must be shorter than the other two, may entail insisting on other geographic precision even those that Europe is not a continent. In addition, there are numerous grounds for determining the closeness and common points within the culture of the Balkans, and their waiver is seen as a sign of political and ideo- logical myopia or tuning authorities, including the testimony of a sort (again politically induced) fear that by confessing our own multiplicity – i.e. belonging to the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Central Europe – we will lose our own peculiarity. Also, Feletar inappropriately accepts the concept of the Balkans as it’s created in the ideological and nationalist interpretations of the Serbi- an intelligence to then exclude Croatia from it. But criticizing Jovan Cvijić and its forcing of the Balkans as an integrative cultural-national idea and partial replacement for Yugoslavia, he does not see that Cvijić writes about the semantic interpretation of the Balkans in a certain way and that it should go a step back and critically explain the meaning and not a priori accept them and then build on them their criticism.  In my point of view, this does not provide an accurate framework for analysis, so in the next passage, I will focus more on “Croatian desire for Europe”, since that part of the analysis can show much precise picture on this topic, and it is, by all means, more closely related to the em- pirical part of this research.

Author Profile
Tonči Valentić

Tonći Valentić is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Textile Technology, Department of Fashion Design, the University of Zagreb, where he teaches courses in Media Theory, Sociology of Culture, Semiotics of Fashion, and Cultural Anthropology. He received his Ph.d. in Sociology from University of Ljubljana. He contributes regularly to a variety of Croatian and foreign cultural magazines, as well as author and translator. His publications include: Multiple Modernities (2006), Camera Abscondita: Essays on Ontology of Photography (2013), Archipelago of Contemporary Philosophy (2018) and Media Construction of Balkanism (2021).