Austria-Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Western Balkans, 1878–1918
Edited By Clemens Ruthner, Diana Reynolds Cordileone, Ursula Reber and Raymond Detrez
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.
Habsburg Confessionalism and Confessional Policies in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bojan Aleksov
and Confessional Policies in Bosnia and Herzegovina
BOJAN ALEKSOV (UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON)
Looking at the shelves with history books on the Habsburg Monarchy in any average university library, one immediately notices a symptomatic disproportion – there are almost as many books written on the reasons and course of its dissolution as on the centuries of its existence. This is by no means a recent or post factum phenomenon. From the Compromise (Ausgleich) in 1867 to the reverberating collapse of the Empire in 1918, the impending downfall of the Habsburg realm was frequently predicted and elaborated upon; observers were well aware of the multitude of forces working against the Monarchy’s chances of survival, quite irrespective of WWI, which finally sealed its existence. On the other hand, no matter how anachronistically feudal and dynastic in its structure, Austria-Hungary remained a high-ranking member of the European system of Great Powers throughout its waning years. During this fateful period it proved able to expand economically and to survive all its internal disputes. Even foreign observers who were not positively disposed to the conservative Monarchy, such as the Englishman Henry Wickham Steed writing in 1913, admitted his inability to perceive – despite ten years of constant observation - any sufficient reasons to believe in the disintegration of the Monarchy, since its internal crises turned into crises of growth rather than of decay.1
The Habsburg Empire rested on a well-established hierarchy of power, connected by dynastic loyalty and...
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