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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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II.

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K.(u.)k. colonial?

Contextualizing Architecture and Urbanism in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1878-1918

MAXIMILIAN HARTMUTH (UNIVERSITÄT WIEN)

While much has been published about Bosnia-Herzegovina under Austro-Hungarian rule, and most of it mentions the significant transformations cities underwent during this period,1 previous studies have generally lacked a broader regional approach in terms of attempting to contextualize the Bosnian case with contemporary phenomena in a wider post-Ottoman and colonialist world. As a consequence, some conclusions about the uniqueness of certain developments between 1878 and 1918 are quite erroneous. Recurring myths concerning Austro-Hungarian cultural policy in Bosnia are, for instance, that the ›Pseudo-Moorish‹ style (e.g. the City Hall or ›Vijećnica‹) was specifically designed for Bosnia by Austro-Hungarian architects and administrators,2 while, for political reasons, more authentic, local (Ottoman-period) architectural forms were ignored as a source of influence;3 that the Habsburgs’ architects and planners deliberately destroyed old (Ottoman) Sarajevo for their vision of a European town,4 and that, while there was a mushrooming of churches, Muslim architecture came to a standstill.5

As explanations offered in the existing literature are often unsatisfactorily brief and, while not always completely mistaken, often simplistic, I will argue that discussing analogies in a colonialist context may contribute to a better understanding of why things materialized in the way they did in Austro-Hungarian Bosnia-Herzegovina. The basic assumption behind such comparison, and eventually the main hypothesis, is that European empires – be it Austria(-Hungary), France, Britain, or Russia – had...

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