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Yugo-Nostalgia (heavy sarcasm)

February 29, 2008

One of the things that I learned in eigth grade (the one year spent in whole in the region) in the former Yugoslavia was how the Serbs have just been such victims throughout the ages.  It was completely engrained within the curriculum .. in my Serbo-Croatian class, in my history class, in my music class, in my art class and even in my geography class.  Quite honestly it was rather eerie to have to be reminded of this victimhood nearly each and every day.  Stranger yet to watch their victimhood celebrated.

I ran accross this article today and thought I’d share this excerpt:

However, Kosovo left Serbia a long time ago. Most Serbs did not notice that departure, since Kosovo was not present in their conscience as a place to visit or, God forbid, a place to move to with a business or the family.
Despite this ignorance of the real Kosovo, the former Serbian province plays a key role in Serbian identity — an identity that is very much shaped by the idea that Serbs have always been victims, throughout history. In the hands of local politicians, Kosovo is inevitably mentioned as a symbol of a great loss, producing an instant image of a battle against the Turks — a battle that took place 600 years ago. It has always been packaged as an event that took place yesterday (or might as well have), and conversely, what happened as recently as yesterday is somehow directly related to that medieval battle.
The myth of Kosovo, as an integral part of Serbian identity, was created and cemented by Serbian writers, poets, politicians, and academics. If Serbs happened to disagree on other issues, Kosovo would always be their common ground, their rallying point. A romantic picture of Serbs as both heroes and victims at the hands of brutal Ottoman Turks would suspend all disputes and produce an idyllic picture of national unity.
In other countries, politicians have to work hard and come up with good ideas and policies in order to get reelected. In Serbia, it was always enough to just mention Kosovo and to have the entire nation clapping hands. But what Serbs want to have is not Kosovo as it is, inhabited by an ethnic-Albanian majority. It is Kosovo as it was a few centuries ago, inhabited by Serbs. Or, in the face of the demographic reality, inhabited by whomever, but run by the Serbs.

The article is quite an interesting read and the writter talks about her experience in Kosovo in the aftermath of Tito’s death, please read the rest of the article.

What is interesting is not only that the serbs were the victims but that “the turks” translated to – the Albanians and Bosnians – that tends to happen when you don’t teach the history of how these ethnicities got to be in the region.  I was once told “you are the turk” and that was probably the biggest shock of it all – I was the “enemy”.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2008 1:07 pm

    The same is true in many countries. You are the Turk in Serbia, and in Iraq, the local populace is the same. I read that when they refer to Americans, they say something like, “Don’t go there, the Jews are there.” They refer to all Americans as Jews, the “enemy.”

    The boogeyman is the real enemy, and they name them as their culture and history dictates.

    How often I have read “As cruel as a Turk.” Usually said by a Greek.

    Oh well, inshallah, the day will come when our children will not hear this nonsense, it will not be taught, it will not be remembered.

    Ya Haqq!

  2. March 20, 2008 5:14 pm

    Samaha and Darvish,

    You might find this book interesting.

    note: I don’t subscribe to all of the views found therein

  3. Dina permalink
    December 29, 2008 11:15 pm

    What ever they call me I will still be a woman from country called Bosnia that has a place called Srebrenica where Serbs killed between 8000 and 10 000 people in just a few days. I will never forget.

  4. Vanco Mladcenov permalink
    August 23, 2012 9:02 am

    I think that the advantages of Yugoslav unity, solidarity and culture and level of economic development would be something much richer countries could only dream of. I think any deeper analysis would direclty reveal the potential of a flexible model for a beneluxm type re-integration of the Yugoslav countries in the first stage and then followed by the model of the European Economic Community and the EU in the second or third phase. Such a society would be far a more powerful political and economic entity and negotiator in the European and global scene. I fully support the initiative to rebuild the former Yugoslavia on a flexible basis where all people enjoyed sovereignty and where they drew together all the possibilities that a broader integration provides, especially in conditions of prolonged and the now decade-long global crisis.

  5. Marjan Kocijancic permalink
    August 23, 2012 9:05 am

    I am prone to believe that the construction of Yugoslavia today, no matter how mythologised it is, has a beneficial function in transitional partisan states, to maintain a certain level of hope and faith within citizens that the ‘good old days’ will return in future years

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