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Austria-Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Western Balkans, 1878–1918


Edited By Clemens Ruthner, Diana Reynolds Cordileone, Ursula Reber and Raymond Detrez

What can post/colonial studies and their approaches contribute to our understanding of the Austro-Hungarian ( k.u.k.) occupation and administration of Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1878 to 1914?
This anthology presents some possible answers to this research question which goes back to a workshop held at the University of Antwerp in 2005. Later more researchers were invited from the small international circle of established and emerging experts to contribute to this new perspective on the imperial intermezzo of Bosnia-Herzegovina (which is usually overshadowed by the two World Wars and the Yugoslav Succession Wars of the 1990s). Alternative readings of both Austrian and Bosnian history, literature, and culture are meant to serve as a third way, as it were, bypassing the discursive fallacies of Habsburg nostalgia and nationalist self-victimization.
As a result, the essays of this interdisciplinary volume (collected and available in print for the first time) focus on the impact the Austro-Hungarian presence has had on Bosnia-Herzegovina and vice versa. They consider both the contemporary imperialist setting as well as the expansionist desire of the Habsburg Monarchy directed southward. Exploring the double meaning of the German title WechselWirkungen, the authors consider the consequences of occupation, colonization and annexation as a paradigm shift affecting both sides: not only intervention and interaction at a political, economic, social, cultural, and religious level, but also imposed hegemony along with cultural transfer and hybridity. Finally, the imperial gaze at the Balkan region outside of the Habsburg territories is included in the form of three exemplary case studies on Albania and Montenegro.
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In fact it had its very first beginning at the end of the 17th century already, when the Holy League consisting of the Habsburg Empire, Poland, Venice, and eventually Russia defeated the Ottoman army on several occasions and imposed the Treaties of Karlowitz and Passarowitz in 1699 and 1718, respectively. The whole of Ottoman Hungary including the Ottoman vassal principality of Transylvania was ceded to the Habsburg Empire. The conquest was presented as the restoration of the Habsburg legal rights on the Hungarian lands acquired in 1526 when King Lajos (Ludvík) II of Hungary and Bohemia fell without issue in the battle of ← 21 | 22 → Mohács. Venice considerably enlarged her possessions in Dalmatia. As a result, Bosnia-Herzegovina turned into a huge Ottoman enclave almost completely surrounded by Habsburg and Venetian territory.

The Eastern Question entered a new stage in 1774 after Russia defeated the Ottoman Empire and concluded the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca. Russia obtained the right to free navigation both on the Black Sea and through the Bosporus while annexing a part of the Northeastern shoreline of the Black Sea that was likely to serve as a basis for further expansion to the Balkans. Although Austria was alarmed, due to the friendly atmosphere of the partitions of Poland carried out in the same period, Joseph II cautiously supported the »Greek Project« launched by Catherine the Great. This »Project« provided a sort of blueprint of both empires’ policies regarding the Ottoman Empire until World War...

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