Creating national space(s) : anthropogeography and nation-building in interwar Yugoslavia, 1918-1941
Title: Creating national space(s) : anthropogeography and nation-building in interwar Yugoslavia, 1918-1941
Author: DUANCIC, Vedran
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2016
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
The dissertation examines anthropogeography in and of interwar Yugoslavia. It studies geography as a scientific enterprise, its institutional growth, which in the Yugoslav context began in the 1880s and intensified during the first half of the twentieth century, and the communication between scientific centers in Yugoslavia and abroad. Professionalization and institutionalization were crucial for obtaining a scientific apparatus and social authority that enabled geographers to act as politically engaged “nationally conscious” intellectuals who, nevertheless, insisted on the objective and inherently apolitical nature of their discipline. Besides this institutional development, the dissertation analyzes the geographical discourse dealing with the “Yugoslav lands” and the Yugoslav state, which presented Yugoslavia as coherent and sustainable to an international audience and to Yugoslavs themselves. The overarching question is how and why geography came to play such a prominent role in comprehending the past and the present of Yugoslav communities and regions in an unprecedented context: the unification of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The central figure in the creation of a geographical narrative with political implications was the Serbian geographer Jovan Cvijic, whose seminal work La Péninsule balkanique has been identified as one of the most important scientific contributions to Yugoslav unification. However, the dissertation approaches him as just one of the many actors in a larger scientific network, and points to a number of hitherto less-known geographical works by Croat and Slovene geographers, which in the early days of Yugoslavia exerted an even larger impact on how the Yugoslav readership constructed the image of the new country. Some of these works already contained elements of an anti-Yugoslav geographical discourse that will grow particularly strong in Croatia through the publications of Filip Lukas. The geographers’ ethnic affiliation was not the only differentiating factor. Besides nationalist visions, their scientific and disciplinary positions also conflicted, and an emphasis is thus placed on disagreements arising from geographers’ employment of political geography, geopolitics, ethnography, and regional geography in the process of constructing and deconstructing interwar Yugoslavia as a geographical entity.
Defence date: 25 January 2016; Examining Board: Prof. Pavel Kolár, European University Institute (Supervisor); Prof. Alexander Etkind, European University Institute; Prof. Dejan Djokic, Goldsmiths, University of London; Prof. Hannes Grandits, Humboldt University of Berlin.
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