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Do the Balkans Begin in Vienna? The Geopolitical and Imaginary Borders between the Balkans and Europe

The Geopolitical and imaginary borders between the balkans and Europe

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Ana Foteva

Do the Balkans Begin in Vienna? takes up one of the most fraught areas of Europe, the Balkans. Variously part of the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Byzantine empires, this region has always been considered Europe’s border between the Orient and the Occident. Aiming to clarify the politics of drawing cultural borders in this region, the book examines the relations between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Balkans as an intermediate space between West and East. It demonstrates that the dichotomy Orient versus Occident is insufficient to explain the complexity of the region. Therefore, cultural multi-belonging, historical disruption, and recurrence of identities and conflicts are proposed to be «the essence» of the Balkans.
Do the Balkans Begin in Vienna? depicts the fictional imagination of the Balkans as a «utopian dystopia». This oxymoron encompasses the utopian projections of the Austrian/ Habsburg writers onto the Balkans as a place of intact nature and archaic communities; the dystopian presentations of the Balkans by local authors as an abnormal no-place (ou-topia) onto which the historical tensions of empires have been projected; and, finally, the depictions of the Balkans in the Western media as an eternal or recurring dystopia.
There is at present no other study that distinguishes these particular geographical reference points. Thus, this book contributes to the research on Europe’s historical memory and to scholarship on postcolonial and/or post-imperial identities in European states. The volume is recommended for courses on Austrian, German, Balkan, and European studies, as well as comparative literature, theater, media, Slavic literatures, history, and political science.
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Acknowledgments

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I would like to express my gratitude to all the people who helped me with this book. I have been very fortunate to work with Professor Katherine Arens, who helped me selflessly with her superb knowledge of the matter in question and her enormous pedagogical commitment. I am likewise grateful to Professor Charles Ingrao for his invaluable insights into the historical relations between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Balkans. I am deeply indebted to Professor Herbert Rowland for his thorough proofreading and extremely helpful suggestions for the content. Any remaining errors are mine. Last but not least, I would like to thank Professor Beate Allert and Professor Jennifer William for their long-lasting scholarly support and encouragement to publish my research.

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