Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe

By Traian Stoianovich | Go to book overview

7

THE LIBERTIES AND CONSTRAINTS
OF CULTURE

"We carry in our heads images of other groups, and we bring those images into all our relationships," wrote R. M. MacIver. 1 Such "mental images" and "imaginative conceptions" affect the group-diffused "images" of the action "preferences" and "goals" of our own groups, 2 formed partly in reaction to the "group images" that other groups form of us.


Freedom from Barbarity, Local and Universal

A nation is also an "imagined community" created, conserved, and modified in response to specific historical circumstances. 3 In the Balkans, the conception of nations as "imagined communities" was the product of two partly overlapping phases of historical experience—a positivist enlightenment phase and a romantic phase. In the enlightenment vision, the nation was conceived as a means to "freedom from barbarity." 4 Barbarity itself was defined as localism, provincialism, parochialism, feudalism, and tyranny, or what in western Europe was sometimes called oriental or Asiatic despotism. Like feudalism, oriental despotism let localism thrive.

The imagined space of a given nation during the enlightenment phase was extensive. The territory of the Greek nation thus could include the former areas of Byzantine rule in the Balkans and Asia Minor. The territory of the Serbian or Serbo-Bulgarian nation (as imagined by Serbs in eighteenth-century Hungary) could extend from the Adriatic to the Black Sea and from Hungary to the Aegean.

In this southeastern European enlightenment phase, the links between the concept of nation and the concept of religion were strong. Thus neither Greeks nor western Europeans had any problem regarding the Balkan Slavs as Greeks, and Hungarian Serbs could easily create an imaginary union of Serbs and Bulgars, for most Serbs and Bulgars (like most Greeks) were of the same Orthodox faith and possessed almost the same sacred literary language. In the Habsburg monarchy, this way of thinking culminated in the portrayal of Hungary by a

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Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Balkan Worlds - The First and Last Europe *
  • Contents *
  • List of Tables xi
  • List of Maps and Diagrams xiii
  • Foreword xv
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One *
  • 1 - Earth Culture 7
  • 2 - Biotechnics and Social Biology 47
  • 3 - Technology 69
  • 4 - Society 120
  • 5 - Economy 186
  • 6 - Personality and Culture 235
  • Part Two *
  • 7 - The Liberties and Constraints of Culture 267
  • 8 - The Interacting Population Systems 318
  • Bibliography 359
  • Index 421
  • About the Author 433
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