The last Byzantines: perceptions of identity, culture and heritage in Serbia
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Pantelic, Bratislav (2015) The last Byzantines: perceptions of identity, culture and heritage in Serbia. (Accepted/In Press)
Focusing on material culture, this article considers a range of issues concerning the cultural policies, ideologies and identities that have underlain Serbian development since the Middle Ages, and tests some widely held yet previously uncontested views. In particular it questions the Serbs’ perceived affiliation with the Byzantine Empire and challenges the view that this affiliation was so pervasive that it influenced Serbian development and national formation in the modern age. It is argued that Byzantium had little if any role in the Serbs’ cultural development -- neither in historical memories nor in surviving traditions. Serbia’s Byzantine culture is largely a myth developed in the 1930s by the Serbian clergy as a corollary of the Russian-inspired Svetosavlje ideology. This myth was meant to dislocate Serbia’s cultural identity from its secular European sources and reposition it closer to Orthodox Russia.
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