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What Happened in the Balkans (or Rather ex-Yugoslavia)?

Written by  Ivo Banac, this article appeared on the twenty-third of the journal East European Politics and Societies in 2009.
 
The article analyzes how Milošević’s empire-building completed the process of national homogenization in the successor states of Yugoslavia and brought this part of the Balkan region in conformity with the modernity’s prescription of national statehood. For the purposes of the essay, the Balkans are dealt with as in plural (contrary to ‘the Balkan’), as the Balkan developments of the 1990s were peculiar only in some - not all - of the successor states of Yugoslavia, certainly not throughout the Balkan Peninsula. The problems of transition from state socialism to capitalism and from one-party dictatorship to pluralist would-be democracies were not unique to the region, even in the case of Albania, where the transition was hard and accompanied by a temporary slide into lawlessness in the first half of 1997. Nor were the problems of nationalism typical only of the ex–Communist countries, as the case of Greece and its remarkably stupid Macedonian policy will attest. So the “Balkan” problems of the 1990s, especially if reduced to the idea of “revival of virulent nationalism”, are really the unique problems of ex–Yugoslavia.

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