Journal Article

Designing Identities

Bratislav Pantelić

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 20, issue 2, pages 131-144
Published in print January 2007 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online June 2007 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/epm007
Designing Identities

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It is not an easy task to imagine one's nation in the Balkans. The elusive and complex interrelation of ethnicities and shared traditions in this region are the result of centuries of mixing and blending in complex social and cultural processes. Nationalism imposed ethnic and religious denominators upon these vague cultural entities, writing ethnic and national histories, appropriating and inventing traditions to impart ethnic exclusivity. Imaginaries of cultural uniqueness have been developed by each of these groups and shaped according to a visual code believed to be innate or to echo ancient traditions. This article focuses on the Serbian situation. It looks at some representative examples of the visual arts, architecture and material culture to examine how national uniqueness has been visualized in the past two centuries and to understand how changing perceptions of ‘national’ or ‘ethnic’ designs have accompanied and accompany identity changes in this volatile region.

Keywords: architecture; decorative arts; national identity; nationalism; Serbia; south-eastern Europe

Journal Article.  8628 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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