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Introduction: The Presence of the Past in the Era of the Nation-State

Nicolas Argenti

Keywords: Balkans; collective memory; melancholy; nostalgia; oikoumenê; post-Ottomanism; temporality; trauma


With contributions from several of the Balkan countries that once were united under the aegis of the Ottoman Empire, this special issue proposes new theoretical approaches to the experience and transmission of the past through time. All of the articles in this issue explore themes to do with the transmission of collective memories of post-Ottoman state formation and the malaise associated with a contemporary epoch that, echoing late modernity, we might term ‘late nationalism’. This introductory article examines the several manifestations of this general phenomenon under the rubric of post-Ottoman topologies, suggesting that where history creates a fixed, empiricist record of the past, topologies denote the flux of collective memory in its multiple and mutable incarnations across time.


Argenti, Nicolas - Brunel University