Ambivalent Dealings with an Imperial Past: The Habsburg Legacy and New Nationhood in ex-Yugoslavia


Current anthropological research on imperial legacies is scarce compared to the vogue of research on empires in the social sciences of the last decade.1 Since the demise of Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, a huge historical, sociological, and political scientist interest in the question as to why and how empires fall apart has arisen. Over the decade of intense research on empires, several other issues have been brought to the fore, including those that relate to memories of – and nostalgia for – empires. The latter seem particularly in tune with the Zeitgeist of Western societies. Nostalgic memories of defunct empires are fashionable not only in the social sciences. Empires are being manifoldly evoked in diverse cultural practices as well as in political arenas. National and regional identities are often being affirmed, and others denied, with reference to one-time imperial states. Meanwhile, memories have also become a substantial topic in anthropology, yet memories of empires are largely exempt from anthropologists ’ attention. The survival of imperial myths and their new functions as well as subsequent modifications in new nation-states have also not received sufficient scholarl

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