Western attitudes to war in the Balkans and the shifting meanings of violence, 1912-1991

Michail, Eugene (2012) Western attitudes to war in the Balkans and the shifting meanings of violence, 1912-1991. Journal of Contemporary History, 47 (2). pp. 219-239. ISSN 0022-0094

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Abstract

During the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s there was a prevalent perception that at least since the Second Balkan War of 1913 the West had developed an image of a Balkan propensity for extreme war violence that had remained unchanged ever since. This article challenges the presumptions of continuity and uniformity that inform such views of the history of Western–Balkan contacts. It reveals that more often than not Western attitudes to violence in the Balkans varied considerably, reflecting different ideological or strategic assessments. While in 1912–3 there developed indeed a common Western image of the two Balkan Wars, subsequently the two World Wars led to a diversification of the Balkan images on national lines. Especially the victorious Allies’ postwar myths, both after 1918 and 1945, were closely connected with a positive view of Balkan war violence. The Second World War and the Cold War established new standards of extreme violence, pushing even further back any negative public associations of the Balkans, which became instead an international backwater, known more for its tourist attractions than for its violent history

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Depositing User: Eugene Michail
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2013 12:45
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2013 12:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/16110
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