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WechselWirkungen

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

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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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Occupation and Nation-Building in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1878-1914: Ian Sethre

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Occupation and Nation-Building in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1878-1914

IAN SETHRE (SAN DOMENICO SCHOOL, SAN ANSELMO)

Introduction

In the summer of 1878, the geopolitically peripheral Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina suddenly became the focus of European diploma-tic attention. The Austrian occupation of the territories was accompanied by a series of internal and international political and ethnic crises that would ultimately lead to the outbreak of the First World War, and with it the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and Russian Empires. This is not to say that the Austrian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina precipitated these cataclysmic events, but during this period, these previously overlooked Balkan provinces proved to be a major fault line along which adversarial states would confront one another – both directly and vicariously through regional ethno-religious groups. This relatively short period of Austro-Hungarian administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina – which lasted from the occupation of the provinces in 1878 to the height of the First World War – was one of considerable progress, and for some, prosperity. Industrial infrastructure, transportation and communications networks, and many cultural institutions were noticeably upgraded in the region, but the results of Austria-Hungary’s ›modernization‹ campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina were uneven at best.

Administrative strategies failed to facilitate any real or lasting semblance of ethnic cohesion and the most significant development – for the local population at least – was the political awakening of the three largest ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the Serbs, the Croats, and perhaps most...

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