From ‘Yugoslavism’ to (post)Yugoslav nationalisms: understanding Yugoslav “identities”

From ‘Yugoslavism’ to (post)Yugoslav nationalisms: understanding Yugoslav “identities”

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   5 From Yugoslavism t (Post-) Yugoslav Nationalisms: Understanding Yugoslav Identities onte Tamie Yugoslavia was a European state with a highly diverse and complex mix of ethnicities and cultures. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was a federation of six republics and two autonomous provinces. t housed five nations (Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Montenegrins, Macedonians and had at least three official languages (Slovenian, Serbian-Croatian, Macedonian . Serbian-Croatian had two names, two different alphabets (Latin and Cyrillic), ,three different dialects (Stokavian, Kajkavian, Cakavian) and two further variants (Ekavian and Jekavian). The religious population was divided into three different confessions-Roman-Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Muslims. While it was officially led by a single party-the League of Communists of Yugoslavia-the political system of socialist Yugoslavia was far from simple. Unlike other socialist economies, SFYR was not a straightfor ward command or planned economy as in the USSR and other East and Central European states but a hybrid of market socialism with elements of direct democracy in the factories (i.e., autogestion, or workers' self management . The economic and political elites were controlled by the party. There were also several social-political organizations with different functions and multiple layers of administration: the League of Communists, the Socialist Alliance of Working People, the League of Socialist Youth, the Alliance of Trade Unions, and others. 1 More than twenty years after the violent breakup of the SFRY seven nation-states emerged on its former territory: Slovenia, Croatia, 271  European National Identities Bosnia-Herzegovina, ivfontenegro, Serbia, l\ 1accdonia   and, as of 2008, l(osovo, vvhose status re1nains uncertain as its independence is not formally recognized by numerous EU member states and global powers such as Russia, China, India, and Brazil. Serbia still regards l(osovo as its \Vn autonomous provincc   although recent EU-n1ediated negotiations have made headway in finding a workable status quo. Such problems aside, it now seems that the political fragmentation of the (post-)Yugoslav state has come lo an end. In spite of the complex and contrary ways in which the problem of identity can be analyzed in former Yugoslavia, this chapter will briefly focus upon the most relevant concepts and forms of identification, as they have (re)appeared in the course of Yugoslav history. Instead of thoroughly describing assumed "collective identities" of today's postYugoslav area, this text provides a short sketch of their historical devclopn1enti focusing on different nationalisn1s (i.e., concepts of n tion as ethnic community nd nation-state) and, where possible, on the ways in which they were accepted or contested by the population over time. The Yugoslav Idea in the "Age of Nationalisms : Yugoslavism versus Particular Nationalisms during the Nineteenth Century Similar to other parts of Europe, the nineteenth century in Southeastern Europe \Vas also marked by processes of socioeconomic n1odernization and nation-building. Ho\vever   there were also irnportant differences from other parts of Europe. Until the end of the century, this area was divided between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. Although different regions obtained certain forms of political autonomy within their respective imperial contexts, it was only after the Berlin Congress in 1878 that new national states were created in the region. 2 In general, the ideas of national unity were first articulated among the intellectual and political elites, invariably educated in Western European universities. Eventually these cultural and political ideas and sentiments about the nation spread throughout Southeastern Europe. The first articulation of a national idea among the Southern Slavs was "Illyrianism;' as proposed in the 1830s by the Croat Ljudevit Gaj. Gaj and his followers constructed a cultural, linguistic, and ethnic unity of all Southern Slavs (the Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, and even Bulgarians) to argue that the "Illyrians" lived dispersed under different imperial rule. In spite of their relatively circumscribed political relevance, Gaj and the early Yugoslavists agreed with the Serbian nationalist Yuk Stefanovic Karadzic about the importance and significance of a common language 2i2  From Yugoslavism to Post-) )rugoslav Nationalisms of the Southern Slavs.i Parallel to the development of Yugoslavism among intellectuals in the Habsburg Monarchy-a broad acceptance of national ideas by large parts of the population was still to come Serbian nationalism was taking shape, with Serbia becoming the first national state of Southern Slavs and, after 1878, becoming internation ally recognized as a sovereign state. Interestingly, intellectual elites in both Serbia and Balkan regions of the empire developed alternative forms ofYugoslavism. 1 While in Serbia it was understood as a concept that would unite all Serbs in one state, the ideas of Yugoslavism as developed in the second half of the nineteenth century in the Habsburg Monarchy included different political ambitions. Slovene intellectuals envisaged the national liberation of Southern Slavs remaining within the monarchy. They drew on the idea of Austro-Slavism and imagined that it would contribute to reforming the dualist order of Austria Hungary, through the creation of a third (Slavic) part of the empire. Some other Yugoslavs thought the liberation of Southern Slavs should be looked for only in the context of close cooperation with the Serbian state. Others, including one of the most prominent Yugoslavists, the Catholic bishop )osip Juraj Strossmayer in Croatia, were not directly questioning the imperial order. Instead, they supported the education and cultural interaction among Southern Slav intellectuals and focused on the common culture of the Southern Slav; they tried to establish national'' institutions, the most important of which was the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts, founded in 1866. 5 But Yugoslavism was not the only mode of national identity articu lated among the Southern Slavs of the Habsburg Monarchy. In addition to Serbian nationalism, which was strongly influenced, but not entirely directed or determined by the creation of the Serbian state, Slovenian and Croat nationalism entered the competition of national ideas:· The major difference between Yugoslavism and different particular nationalisms was the relative popularity of the former. Yugoslavism and the various particularist forms of nationalism were both initially represented by small groups of intellectuals (clergy, officials, artists, and students), wealthier merchants, and some members of the lower nobility/' and the particularist concepts of nation gradually were taken up by members of other social strata, including workers and peasants. Nevertheless, the majority of the population, both under Habsburg and Ottoman rule, as well of the Serbian state, consisted of peasants, who still had to be persuaded that they should identify themselves as Serbs, Croats, or Slovenes. This proved difficult, particularly for the peasantry in the 273  European ational Identities "border regions:' For centuries the Ottomans had deployed the millet system, which was based on religious belonging rather than ethnicity. The process "from peasant to Serb/Bulgarian/Macedonian" was to go on until the end of World War 7 Generally, religions and confessional self-understandings of the population played quite an important role in the course of the nation-building process, although the confessional, ethnic, and religious matchups so familiar today-Serbs as Orthodox Christians, Croats and Slovenes as Catholics-were all but clear in this period. Invariably intellectuals, especially particularist national ists, used the category of religion to define the Other: thus, for some Croatian nationalists, the Serbs represented only Croats of Christian Orthodox belief, while the Croats were considered to be "Catholic Serbs" by some Serb intellectuals. Both, however, considered the Muslims in Bosnia to be Serbs or "Croats" respectively, who during the Ottoman past converted to Islam. This was the case throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, but also, although to a lesser extent, in the first Yugoslav state, which was created on the ruins of the imperial order in Southeastern Europe after World War I State Building and the Yugoslav Identitics until the End ofWorld \ Var II (1918-1945) 1he first Yugoslav state, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, was proclaimed on December 1, 1918. In keeping with their nationalist sentiments and beliefs, its founders held that the kingdom represented a nation-state of on Southern Slavic nation speaking one language. However, both the name of the nation and the name of the language were disputed almost throughout the entire period of its existence. t was finally renamed as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. ' he Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes were regarded as tribes of one and the same "three-named people troimeni narod). However, this hardly provided a definition that suited the country's population. Apart from the thorny question of whether Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes really constituted one nation, contested in different ways, the Bosnian Muslim population, Macedonians, and a variety of other non-Slavic nationalities (Germans, Hungarians, Albanians, Jews, Roma, etc.) were not mentioned, nor could they be encompassed under this notion of an integral Yugoslavisn1. 8 One of the major tasks of the new stale was to try to integrate all of these different forms of identity; Lhe task eventually proved all but impossible. Due to all the differences in terms of economic and social 74  From Yugoslavism to Post-) Yugoslav Nationalisms structures, legal systems, but also forms of loyalty in these areas, the first Yugoslav state practically never managed to integrate. As we have already indicated, these differences had less to do with retroactive signifiers of the nation (Serb, Croat, Slovene, etc.) than with the very different histories of imperial incorporation and emancipation. While Serbia and Montenegro had already gained political autonomy within the Ottoman Empire in the beginning of the nineteenth century and could build up their own modern state institutions, Bosnia, which had also been under Otto1nan rule for centuries, came under Austrian adn1inistration after 1878, while what would later become Macedonia and Kosovo were con quered-or freed from Ottoman rule by the Serb and Montenegrin military in the course of the Balkan wars of 1912-1913. In addition to the difficulties of uniting under one rule people who during World War I were fighting on opposite sides, different political and ideological concepts exacerbated conflicts and threw another problem into relief. Apart from the newly created Communist Party, which was regarded as a severe threat and which, after leading mas sive strikes and attacks on high officials, was banned in 1921, there were also serious political conflicts between different political parties over differences between unitary and federalist positions, which had little to do with national(ist) identifications. 9 However, it was the case that large parts of the political and military elite in the first Yugoslavia were Serbs, who, while representing the largest ethnic group, were nevertheless only a relative majority of the population. The perceived or factual dominance of Serbs was not the only obstacle for Yugoslav state nationalism. Different collective self-identifications were (re)pro duced among other parts of the population and their elites. While some of the Montenegrins were fluctuating between belonging to the Serbs and being a nation on their own, elites of other groups (Macedonians, Bosnian Muslims) were also developing their own national ideas in this period. \Vhether the kingdom may have held together is a source of dispute, but the breakout of World War would ultimately render the question irrelevant. The Yugoslav ruling elite, having decided to support Nazi Germany in the beginning of 1941, sealed their own fate, as massive protests of citizens against the regime took place, forcing it to reject the coalition, thus providing a pretext for Hitler to attack Yugoslavia on April 6 of that year. Due to the economic and political crisis in Yugoslavia, the social and political conflicts among different groups, and the military weakness of the state, within weeks Yugoslavia was occupied and 275
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