National Identity in Serbia. Vojvodina and a Multiethnic Society between the Balkans and Central Europe
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This book introduces a European region that not a lot has been written about in the English-language academic literature: the Serbian autonomous province of Vojvodina. Considering that modern Serbian nationalism was largely ‘born’ there, Vojvodina is a territory with a historical symbolism of high significance for the development of Serbian national identity. However, Vojvodina’s multiethnic composition and different historical experience, in comparison to Serbia proper, also encouraged the formation of a distinct regional identity. During the Communist era, Vojvodina’s identity was institutionally readjusted through its establishment, together with Kosovo, as one of the two autonomous provinces within Serbia. This book critically outlines the evolution and the redefinitions of Vojvodina’s identity through time. The pattern of ethnic relations in this region is highly unique. Although Vojvodina hosts approximately 25 ethnic communities (including a sizeable and politically organized Hungarian minority), besides the Serbian majority, it is by no means an ethnically divided society. Alongside separate ethnic group cultures, a trans-ethnic cultural substratum, which manifests in the form of Vojvodinian regional identity, is present. Intercultural cohabitation has been a living reality in Vojvodina through time and it is largely to account for the lower propensity to ethnic conflict, in comparison to other parts of the former Yugoslavia, during the turbulent 1990s. This more ‘integrated’ pattern manifests through the lower impact of territorial segregation and ethnic distance, as well as the higher frequency of intermarriage in urban and rural settlements alike. This book explores in depth Vojvodina’s intercultural realities and illustrates how these have facilitated the introduction of flexible and regionalized legal models for the management of ethnic relations in Serbia since the 2000s. This regional monograph also casts its focus on fresh developments (most notably, the recent arrival of war refugees from Syria and Iraq) and measures the impact that these have been exerting on social stability and inter-group relations in the province. Furthermore, this book introduces a distinct variant of regionalism. By contrast to other European regionalisms, entrenched either into a core ethno-nationalism (e.g. the Basque and Catalan cases in Spain) or Eurosceptic/xenophobic narratives (e.g. Lega Nord in Italy), Vojvodinian regionalism, as a sociopolitical phenomenon, has been exerting an appeal that cuts across ethno-cultural boundaries. This is a study of ‘small places with big issues’ (yet not a micro-history) highly recommended for political scientists and historians with an expertise in Serbia, the former Yugoslavia, Southeast and Central Eastern Europe as well as the thematic areas of regionalism, nationalism and European Politics.