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Author: Benedikt Harzl


This article attempts to explain how the destructive force of deliberate nationalism in the former Yugoslavia helped to politicize conflict along ethnic lines, and how belonging to an ethnic group became socially relevant during the twilight of the Yugoslav Federation through the example of Kosovo. Based on a constructivist approach, the Yugoslav federal system, which intentionally left a vacuum as regards historical reappraisal and thereby contributed to the outbreak of ethnic conflict, will be analyzed. Furthermore, reasons will be discussed as to why this federative system was, in the end, too weak and ill-constructed to positively intervene against violence. Subsequently, the purpose of this article, to define the respective nationalisms of both Serbs and Albanians, will be rounded off with a conclusion and summarizing arguments.

In: Southeastern Europe
In: Principled Pragmatism in Practice


Both Kosovo and Abkhazia have been riven by violent conflicts which developed to full-scale wars in the 1990s. The central cause to both conflicts was the emergence of strong nationalist movements on all participating sides with a program calling not only for ethnic dominance of one group, but for ethnic homogeneity as such. This article will focus on the symbolic aspect in both cases through which fears, loyalties as well as mass hostilities were produced and reproduced by invoking past historical events. The aim of this article is to provide the reader with evidence that ethnic conflicts—and the humaniarian catastrophes which they cause—are not natural disasters but, rather, man-made and follow the mechanism of politicizing the present through lenses of the past.

In: Review of Central and East European Law