Todorova’s essay highlights the South Slavic role in furthering the study of the Balkans as a shared cultural space since the 1930s, but also points out the ways in which the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic in the 1990s was internationally perceived as a typical ‘Balkan’ case, feeding into a version of Orientalist stereotyping that Todorova explores in Imagining the Balkans (1997). Yugoslavia, she posits, might be the last example for the gradual homogenization of a Europe that, paradoxically, has never been more globalized. Historical legacies of multiethnic entities, be they Ottoman, Habsburg, or Yugoslav, cannot be easily dismissed, as nationalist assertions and newly segregated demographics seem to suggest. As long as the institutional experience of socialist Yugoslavia is preserved in the memory of generations who lived through it, the Yugoslav discourse will be reproduced, even if only in the form of postcommunist nostalgia.
Keywords: the Balkans, shared cultural space, Ottoman rule, Congress of Balkan Studies, Balkanology, unification and particularism, national discourses, legacy as continuity, legacy as perception, postcommunist nostalgia
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