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
"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
Other Titles by Diana Mishkova
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