September 1, 2014
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v2.1 Reference


Radical Revisions of Collective Identity

The last volume of the Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe 1770–1945 series presents 46 texts under the heading of "antimodernism". In a dynamic relationship with modernism, from the 1880s to the 1940s, and especially during the interwar period, the antimodernist political discourse in the region offered complex ideological constructions of national identification.

These texts rejected the linear vision of progress and instead offered alternative models of temporality, such as the cyclical one as well as various narratives of decline. This shift was closely connected to the rejection of liberal democratic institutionalism, and the preference for organicist models of social existence, emphasizing the role of the elites (and charismatic leaders) shaping the whole body politic. Along these lines, antimodernist authors also formulated alternative visions of symbolic geography: rejecting the symbolic hierarchies that focused on the normativity of Western European models, they stressed the cultural and political autarchy of their own national community, which in some cases was also coupled with the reevaluation of the Orient. At the same time, this antimodernist turn should not be confused with rightwing radicalism—in fact, the dialogue with the modernist tradition was often very subtle and the anthology also contains texts which offered a criticism of 'modern' totalitarianism in an antimodernist key.

About the Authors

Diana Mishkova is Associate Professor in Modern History of Southeastern Europe, Senior Researcher and Director of the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia. Marius Turda is Professor in 20th Century Central and Eastern European Biomedicine at Oxford Brookes University. He is Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities. Balázs Trencsényi is a Professor at the History Department of Central European University.


"This intelligently chosen and extremely useful anthology provides insight into the way narratives of national identity were shaped in the region noted in the book's title. Items include such richly varied materials as anthems, songs, constitutions, manifestos, novels, correspondence, autobiographical materials, and contemporary historical narratives. Each item is accompanied by information on the author and context as well as bibliographical material. Summing up: Highly recommended. All levels and libraries."—Choice

"The linguistic diversity of Europe (to stay within the limits of our continent) makes it culturally rich; yet, how hard-to-attain this cultural wealth sometimes is! This becomes particularly relevant when it comes to a content that is complicated and related to things of personal importance to people. And such is the case with problems of collective identity – particularly, national questions – that have been arousing strong emotion from time immemorial, attracting interest of numerous researchers in several last decades. While these problems cannot possibly be completely helped, they can be alleviated. Entering into international – that is, English-language – scientific circulation at least a selection (even if just samples) of original reference texts, not quite accessible due to the language barrier (among other factors), is one possible method. A task of this sort was undertaken a dozen years ago by a multinational team of young researchers who enjoyed institutional support from the Centre for Advanced Study in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the Central European University of Budapest, Hungary. Their publications describe the shaping of collective identities under imperial and post-imperial conditions – 'collective' actually meaning, in this particular case, 'national'. The nationalist narratives whereby nation is a 'natural' and 'perennial' entity, are deeply rooted in the central-eastern part of our continent. The authors endeavour to demonstrate the ways along which such discourses and complexes of ideas or concepts developed."—Acta Poloniae Historica

"The editors hope to overcome two tendencies. The first tendency is to treat the 'process of creating national identity in Central and Southeast Europe' as something exceptional. The editors very much reject the idea of studying these cultures only in terms of themselves. However, they also reject any notion of explaining these cultures by comparing them to an ideal Western type: 'we sought to abandon the 'Platonic' image dividing the continent in two ontologically incompatible worlds: the transcendent world of the Real – the Occident, and its ontologically inferior imitation – the Orient, the 'Remainder of Europe'. The editors of this series very much succeed in their attempt to get readers to look across national boundaries when studying the region. The multitude of languages required by any scholar to pursue cross-cultural comparisons in the region is no doubt a discouragement to many. By taking the time to provide the documents in English translation in one central collection, the editors have done much to facilitate the breaking down of traditional boundaries."—Slavic and East European Journal


"This volume, as the entire series, is a challenging collection of essential primary sources, accompanied by introductory essays and contextual analyses in the best senses of the term: their high level of scholarship demands the intelligent engagement of the reader throughout; it invites the educated elites of Eastern Europe to throw away the crutch of myth and half-truth when promoting or interrogating their unique national identity; it demands that scholars working in the Western humanities rethink widely-held assumptions about 'Eastern Europe, what constitutes conservatism and progressiveness, and the idea of a 'normal' path to a liberal modernity. The introduction proposes a concept of 'anti-modernism' to categorize phenomena in Eastern Europe that may be difficult to grasp for those whose path to liberal democracy has not been blocked by decades of totalitarianism, since they evoke an atavistic rootedness (conservativism) but in a paradoxically futural spirit (modernism). As a result, the reader of whatever cultural background emerges with a more lucid feel for what it means to be Eastern European, modern, and human after the End of History."—Roger Griffin


9789637326622 : anti-modernism-mishkova-turda-trencsenyi
452 Pages
$111.00 USD

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We, the People

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Narratives Unbound

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