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Stabilization and Progress in the Western Balkans

Proceedings of the Symposium 2010, Basel, Switzerland September 17-19


Edited By Dusan Simko and Ueli Mäder

For more than a decade, the Balkans have been a centre of crisis – armed conflicts have brought death, expulsion, destruction and untold suffering to the people. The postwar efforts of the West have failed to bring lasting stability and real progress so far.
The Symposium at Basel University was an interdisciplinary event where complex issues were elucidated by historians, geographers, sociologists and political scientists. The event enabled East and West European scholars and their American counterparts to exchange their somewhat divergent views. The speakers covered a broad range of subjects: historical causes, aspects of postwar economic and social development as well as sociocultural consequences of the democratization process. Special attention was devoted to the situation of minorities, the refugee problem and the security situation in the fragile states of the West Balkans and also to the responsibility of the EU and USA for the general stagnation in the area.
The Symposium was intended to illustrate differing interpretations of the events of the past ten years and to encourage discussion between speakers and participants at the event.


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JASON DITTMER / DAVID A. PARR - Mediating Sovereignty: A Comparative Latent Semantic Analysis of US Newspapersand Conflicts in Kosovo and South Ossetia - 11


11 JASON DITTMER / DAVID A. PARR Mediating Sovereignty: A Comparative Latent Semantic Analysis of US Newspapers and Conflicts in Kosovo and South Ossetia Introduction Although claims regarding the importance of media in contemporary global politics are so ubiquitous as to be banal, recent events con- tinue to reveal new spatialities in the ever-unfolding mediascape. The growth of studies within the realm of critical international relations and geopolitics focusing on the role of media in constituting global events and identities attests to the variety and complexity of these issues.1 One dimension that has too rarely been studied, however, is the comparative one. For example, content analyses of news media are often inward focused, analysing news stories for balance, fair- ness, and representativeness.2 This paper adopts a comparative ap- proach, using quantitative content analysis to compare the American newspaper coverage of the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia over the question of Kosovo (Operation: Allied Force, henceforth OAF) and the news coverage of the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia over the question of South Ossetia (and other territories, such as Abkhazia). These two case studies were chosen because of the use of the ‘Kosovo precedent’ to legitimate Russian intervention in Georgia; that is, Russia claims that these events should be narrated similarly and, indeed, there are at a minimum superficial similarities.3 Nevertheless, the journalistic narrative is contingent rather than determined by events. How were these conflicts narrated by US news- papers? In what ways were claims of sovereignty bolstered or under- mined...

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