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The final weeks of World War I saw a revolutionary upheaval in Europe, as old empires collapsed, and new, self-proclaimed ‘nation-states’ emerged in their place. This new order was enshrined in the post-war settlement, by which boundaries of ethnic identity and political authority were deliberately aligned. But problems abounded, and none of the new states presented a greater challenge, or a more complex picture, than Yugoslavia. For its advocates the new South Slav state represented a largely uniform culture and identity. But as its official name - the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes - suggested, its population was by no means homogeneous. In Britain, where the Slav lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were little known prior to the war, official and unofficial observers alike strove to comprehend the new state’s complex political make-up. Only belatedly did they appreciate the extent to which divisions of religious affiliation and historical tradition continued to override a linguistic unity which was itself less complete than widely claimed.In this study James Evans closely analyses British attitudes, looking in detail at the ways in which ideas about Yugoslav nationality were influenced by readings of the region’s diverse history and culture - and, no less importantly, at the ways in which assumptions about the region’s history and culture were reshaped by newly prevalent ideas about Yugoslav nationality. Attitudes and preconceptions first formed during this period would prove remarkably enduring, making their mark on British responses to events in Yugoslavia throughout the country’s troubled history. As a result, this study sheds valuable light not only on attitudes to Yugoslav nationality in the early 20th century, but also on western responses to the violent demise of the Yugoslav state at the century’s close.(284 words)?
I.B.Tauris; July 2008
- ISBN: 9780857713070
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- Title: Great Britain and the Creation of Yugoslavia
- Author: James Evans