Revived nationalism versus European democracy

Class and "identity dilemmas" in contemporary Serbia

in Focaal
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Following the Belgrade riots after Kosovo's proclamation of independence in February 2008 and the rise of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party in elections since 2001, several analysts have portrayed Serbia as a highly divided and confused nation unable to choose between a European, urban, and cosmopolitan democrat identity and a patriarchal, peasant, and collectivists nationalist one. This article historicizes this widespread culture-talk by ethnographically grounding it in particular processes that constitute Serbia's trajectory toward free market economy and liberal democracy. The concept of class as an analytical tool appears accurate in trying to understand people's biographies and political choices. By deconstructing popular cultural stereotypes of Radikali, the article argues that nationalism provides a framework that resonates most with the material and symbolic needs of a wide range of population. In the absence of a strong institutionalized left, the political choices of "nationalism's supporters" are based more on rational choice than on identity quests and strategies of manipulation.

Focaal

Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology