Designing identities: reshaping the Balkans in the first two centuries: the case of Serbia
Pantelic, Bratislav (2007) Designing identities: reshaping the Balkans in the first two centuries: the case of Serbia. Journal of Design History, 20 (2). pp. 131-144. ISSN 0952-4649
It is not an easy task to imagine one’s nation in the Balkans. The elusive and complex interrelation of ethnicities and shared traditions in this region is the result of centuries of mixing and blending in complex social and cultural processes. Upon such fluid cultural entities, formed around kinship-based communities and rather vague confessional affiliations, nation builders of the nineteenth century imposed ethnic and religious denominators. ‘National’ histories have since been written and traditions invented to impart ethnic uniqueness. In writing the story of the nation an imaginary of unique cultural heritage was developed by each of these groups and shaped into a design or aesthetic principle which was believed to be innate to the group or to echo ancient traditions. This article looks at some representative examples of the visual arts and architecture in Serbia to examine how national uniqueness has been visualized in interaction with some other groups of the region in the past two centuries and to understand how changing perceptions of ‘national’ or ‘ethnic’ designs have accompanied identity changes in this volatile region.
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