Chapter

Introduction

David Bruce Macdonald

in Balkan Holocausts?

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780719064661
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700198 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719064661.003.0001
Introduction

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This book explores the rather strange predicament Western observers encountered when trying to understand the collapse of Yugoslavia. It addresses two particular problems: the manipulation of victim imagery, and the powerful war of words that accompanied and often preceded military violence. Of central importance is understanding how and why each side so assiduously chose to portray itself as a victim of genocide. Anyone who followed the conflict from 1991 onwards would have been struck by the constant emphasis on historical victimisation and suffering. This situation paradoxically gave rise to the view that the wars in Yugoslavia were the result of ‘ancient ethnic hatreds’ between traditionally hostile ethnic groups. Such propaganda would confuse rather than clarify. While it is important to explore the nature of such imagery, it is also important to understand the philosophical and theological underpinnings of a victim-centred strategy in nationalism, while systematically unravelling and comparing propaganda in Serbia and Croatia. This involves charting how different periods of history have been revised to make a nation's history one of constant danger, defeat, and martyrdom.

Keywords: Yugoslavia; victim imagery; war of words; genocide; ethnic groups; nationalism; propaganda; Serbia; Croatia; victimisation

Chapter.  6528 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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