After Yugoslavia: Identities and Politics within the Successor States

By Ulger, Irfan Kaya | Insight Turkey, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

After Yugoslavia: Identities and Politics within the Successor States


Ulger, Irfan Kaya, Insight Turkey


After Yugoslavia: Identities and Politics Within the Successor States

Edited by Robert Hudson and Glenn Bowman

New York: Palgrave/McMillan, 2012 pages, 264 pages, ISBN 9780230201316, $90.

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Yugoslavia was established after World War I as the Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian Kingdom. Although the name of the newly-founded state bore the names of Croatians and Slovenians, the administration until World War II remained primarily under Serbian rule. Even the change of the country's name in 1929 to Yugoslavia (the Land of the Southern Slavs) did not mean that Serbian rule had ended. The country was invaded by the Axis powers in World War II. During those years, the pro-Axis Ustasa Croatian state was formed in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. During the war, Cetniks and Communist Partisans fought not only each other but also the invaders and the Ustasa state. The winner of the confrontation that claimed the lives of more than a million people during the war was the Partisans, and 1946 witnessed the establishment of the Socialist Yugoslavia under the lead of Josip Broz Tito.

Being a Communist leader, Tito, in the first years of his rule, saw the USSR as a model. The Yugoslavian Constitution of 1946 was drafted with inspiration from the Soviet Constitution of 1936. After 1951, however, Tito's relationship with the Soviets deteriorated. Still, the communist practices and the centralist model were retained. The model Tito had formed was based on a federation that consisted of six federal states and two autonomous regions. Tito's rule continued until 1980.

It was a period in which Yugoslavia had seen its most peaceful times since the Ottoman Empire. In the post-Tito era, Yugoslavia began to march towards fragmentation. The Serbian-Croatian war that broke out in July 1991 upon the simultaneous independence declarations of Croatia and Slovenia continued until January 1992. In the meantime, Macedonia declared independence in November 1991. Upon Bosnia-Herzegovina's declaration of independence in the spring of 1992, Serbia and, to a certain degree, Croatia--along with the local people--fought in the war in Bosnia. A ceasefire was finally achieved with the Dayton Peace Treaty after three and a half years.

Milosevic's military offensive against Kosovo in the spring of 1999 and the NATO intervention that followed increased the likelihood of the independence of the autonomous region, and Kosovo declared its independence on November 17, 2008, following an eight-year temporary UN/EU rule. Meanwhile, Serbia and Montenegro, which had been left as the remnants of Yugoslavia, were peacefully divided in 2006. The six federal republics and the Kosovo autonomous region that once had formed Yugoslavia now become independent states.

The book After Yugoslavia: Identities and Politics Within the Successor States, which was co-edited by Robert Hudson and Glenn Bowman, examines the issues of identity and ethnicity in the post-Yugoslav states. The book mainly analyzes the situation that emerged after the Dayton Peace Treaty in 1995, and identity problems from linguistic, religious, ethnic and sectarian differences as well as pro-hegemonic and separatist identities are examined. The book consists of 14 articles that study the problems of new states that are connected with other former Yugoslav states and their shared history. It does not seem possible to state that the individual articles carry a sense of entirety in themselves. Although the authors of the articles have put efforts into being neutral, their identities/nationalities inevitably cast their reflections on their point of views.

There is no doubt that the book, in its current condition, will make a contribution to the literature. That being said, it must also be acknowledged that the book fails to reflect on the actual situation in the post-Yugoslav environment. In the book, the problems of the post-Yugoslav republics are analyzed with rather a sociologic perspective. …

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