Accepted Paper:

Nationalism versus European belonging: the usefulness of 'class' in reading through 'identity dilemmas' in contemporary Serbia  


Theodora Vetta (Universitat de Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will focus on the rise of nationalism in Serbia after the 2000 political changes. Analyzing class-related experiences can help us ground the image of identity polarization in particular socio-political and economic processes that have reconfigured Serbia’s reality for the last seven years.

Paper long abstract:

Since the fall of the Milosevic regime and the democratic changes in 2000, many would agree with a Serbian minister that today Serbia is once again falling in a collective cultural madness. The rise of nationalist party's power as indicated by the electoral results of the last four years, the spread of a nationalist public discourse, the violent events after the proclamation of Kosovo's independence in February 2008, all produce an image of Serbian society as highly polarized among two axes of identity politics: nationalism/isolation on the one hand and European identity/democracy on the other.

Aim of this paper is to de-construct this omnipresent culture-talk by analyzing ethnographic data on nationalism supporters' discourse, practices and power relations that structure their everyday life. The concept of class can be a useful analytical tool in that it can historicize the culturally framed struggles by grounding them in the particular political and economic processes that constitute Serbia's social reality of 'transition' to open market and liberal democracy. Nationalism, I will argue, gains its supporters from a wide spectrum of society, ranging from elites to under classes, not because of a pre-dominance of national identity over social differentiation; rather nationalism appeals in different ways and for different reasons to different social groups. The same could be argued for the normative and morally circumscribed pro-western democracy movement as well.

Panel W108
Class as a subtext to neonationalism after 1989