A centuries-old dream?

This book assesses the formation of Croatian national identity in the 1990s. It develops a novel framework, calling into question both primordial and modernist approaches to nationalism and national identity, before applying that framework to Croatia. In doing so, the book provides a new way of thinking about how national identity is formed and why it is so important. An explanation is given of how Croatian national identity was formed in the abstract, via a historical narrative that traces centuries of yearning for a national state. The book shows how the government, opposition parties, dissident intellectuals and diaspora groups offered alternative accounts of this narrative in order to legitimise contemporary political programmes based on different versions of national identity. It then looks at how these debates were manifested in social activities as diverse as football, religion, economics and language. This book attempts to make an important contribution to both the way we study nationalism and national identity, and our understanding of post-Yugoslav politics and society.

3 The Croatian historical statehood narrative In his 1998 state of the nation address, the Croatian President Franjo Tuœman noted that with the restoration of the Croatian Danube region including Vukovar ‘to our homeland’, ‘[t]he centuries-old dream of the Croatian people has thereby been completely fulfilled’.1 Similarly, the new constitution promulgated shortly after independence proclaimed ‘the millennial national identity of the Croatian nation and the continuity of its statehood, confirmed by the course of its entire historical experience in various statal

in The formation of Croatian national identity

4 Contemporary accounts of Croatian national identity According to Benedict Anderson , ‘communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined’.1 This chapter investigates how the Croatian nation was imagined in the 1990s. It focuses on four sets of accounts that attempted to provide contemporary resonance to the abstract frames of national identity discussed in the previous chapter. These accounts attempted to either interpret what it meant to be Croatian in order to secure support for a political

in The formation of Croatian national identity
The Moslem question in Bosnia-Hercegovina

2441Chapter8 16/10/02 8:06 am Page 220 8 ‘Greater Serbia’ and ‘Greater Croatia’: the Moslem question in Bosnia-Hercegovina We live in the borderland between two worlds, on the border between nations, within everybody’s reach, always someone’s scapegoat. Against us the waves of history break, as if against a cliff. (Meša Selimoviš : Dervish and Death)1 I can see that the situation is far more complicated and more difficult than other problems I have seen, even Cambodia. It is the peculiar three-sided nature of the struggle here that makes it so difficult

in Balkan holocausts?
Language, education and the Catholic Church

fractious nature of the national language question.2 The significance attached to the unifying aspects of a common Southern Slavic language provoked a reaction among Croatian nationalists in the Yugoslav era. Challenges to the idea of a common South Slavic language was a key component of the Croatian movements in the 1960s, 1970s and 1990s. For nationalist activists, ‘the Croatian standard language is for the Croatian nation, just as any other standard languages are for other nations. Croatians do not have any other standard language. The rights of a certain language

in The formation of Croatian national identity
Economy, football and Istria

5 The nation in social practice I Economy, football and Istria The following two chapters assess the way that the disputes about the meaning of Croatian national identity in the 1990s (discussed in the previous chapter) were manifested in a variety of social practices. This third level of abstraction is concerned with how competing conceptions of national identity (Chapter 4) that make use of abstract frames (Chapter 3) are manifested and embedded in social practice and in identifying sites of resistance to the national ‘common sense’. The six brief studies

in The formation of Croatian national identity
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Competing claims to national identity

7 Conclusion Competing claims to national identity In a seminal work published in 1999, Misha Glenny attempted to plot the Balkan history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Glenny noted that in the 1830s Croatian nationalism began an oscillation between pan-Slavic, proAustrian and anti-Serb orientations. He concluded that this cleavage was the result of ‘the multiple cultural and civilisational influences that had influenced the Croats over many centuries [which was] inevitably reflected in Croatian political nationalism’.1 Glenny thus offered an

in The formation of Croatian national identity
Open Access (free)

I What did it mean to be Croatian in the 1990s? As the Republic of Croatia enters its second decade as an independent state, with a new president and a new government for the first time, this book asks whether sentiments of Croatian national identity have changed and, if so, how and why. General theories of nations and nationalism are unhelpful when it comes to addressing particular cases, principally because very few cases adhere to the accounts they offer. I do not intend to rehearse these arguments here or to explore the relative merits of

in The formation of Croatian national identity
Open Access (free)

-imagine’ the nation in ways that could build on the insights offered by both sides of the divide. This chapter considers some of these new approaches to the study of national identity formation and assesses how they can be used to study the formation of Croatian national identity in the 1990s. New approaches to national identity formation Reflecting the growing dissatisfaction with earlier approaches to national identity, Liisa Mallki, Michael Billig, Sarah Radcliffe and Sally Westwood have offered alternative ways of thinking about nation formation that expose how nations

in The formation of Croatian national identity

2441Chapter4 16/10/02 8:04 am Page 98 4 Croatia, ‘Greater Serbianism’, and the conflict between East and West Christ’s remarkable principle: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that use and persecute you.’ That selfless sentiment has remained throughout history a cry of the weak, or an expression of those who have accepted their doom . . . No matter how many examples can be found in life and history to support such renunciation, it has never overcome the passions of hatred and the desire to

in Balkan holocausts?