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Nationalism, Myth, and the State in Russia and Serbia
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Book description

This book examines the role of Russian and Serbian nationalism in different modes of dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia in 1991. Why did Russia's elites agree to the dissolution of the Soviet Union along the borders of Soviet republics, leaving twenty-five million Russians outside of Russia? Conversely, why did Serbia's elite succeed in mobilizing Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia for the nationalist cause? Combining a Weberian emphasis on interpretive understanding and counterfactual analysis with theories of nationalism, Veljko Vujačić highlights the role of historical legacies, national myths, collective memories, and literary narratives in shaping diametrically opposed attitudes toward the state in Russia and Serbia. The emphasis on the unintended consequences of communist nationality policy highlights how these attitudes interacted with institutional factors, favoring different outcomes in 1991. The book's postscript examines how this explanation holds up in the light of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Reviews

'In this much-needed study, Veljko Vujačić takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the comparative history of Serbia and Russia for the purpose of understanding the violent collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s as counterposed to the relatively peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union. Along the way, he explores the theoretical contributions of Max Weber and other historical sociologists to understanding nationalism and its reliance on mythopoetic historical memory. An intriguing postscript about the Russian annexation of Crimea concludes this altogether highly illuminating and carefully argued book.'

Norman Naimark - Stanford University, California

'Veljko Vujačić’s deeply learned and lucidly argued study of the long-term legacies of nation- and state-formation in Russia and Serbia is a model of Weberian comparative historical sociology.'

Rogers Brubaker - University of California, Los Angeles

'Totally contrary to the leader-focused explanation common in the early 1990s of why the Soviet Union disintegrated peacefully and Yugoslavia did not - Yeltsin versus Milosevic - this fascinating, richly documented, and utterly creative use of this paradox insists instead on the role of collective historical memory. It is a must-read for any student of nationalism, of the politics of state disintegration, and of secessionist movements anywhere, including those interested in the continuing conflicts with Kosovo and Ukraine.'

Susan L. Woodward - Graduate Center, City University of New York

'This is a complex volume that will engage the reader on multiple levels: from controversial theoretical and methodological frameworks, to historical interpretations and assessments, to evaluations of literary works. … One thing is certain, this volume will leave no one indifferent.'

Gordanza Uzelac Source: Slavic Review

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