Understanding Evil: Lessons from Bosnia

By Keith Doubt | Go to book overview

10. RITUALIZING EVIL

Herein lies the principle of Evil, not in some mystical agency or
transcendence, but as a concealment of the symbolic order.

—Jean Baudrillard

There are many books written on Bosnia and the Balkans from historical, political, journalistic, philosophical, and sociological points of view. One such book is Maria Todorova’s Imagining the Balkans. It is worthwhile looking closely at Todorova’s concluding sentence. While an author’s last words are often the most enigmatic, they can also be the most revealing:

If Europe has produced not only racism but also antiracism, not
only misogyny but also feminism, not only anti-Semitism, but
also its repudiation, then what can be termed Balkanism has not
yet been coupled with its complementing and ennobling antiparti-
cle. (1997, 189)

There are problems with this concluding sentence. One is that Balkanism is correlated with racism, misogyny, and anti-Semitism. The correlation is unduly negative. Racism evokes hatred, misogyny,

Portions of this chapter were presented as a lecture, “The Politics of Scapegoating: A Critique for the Sake of Democracy in Southeastern Europe” at the Graduate Seminar on “Social Welfare, Multiculturalism, and Democracy” in Dubrovnik, Croatia in April 2004 and then at the international conference “Genocide against Bosniaks of the UN Safe Area Srebrenica in July

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