Archive for November, 2007

Yugoslavia: a violent cauldron?

Friday, November 30th, 2007
  1. After your reading this week, do you think that Yugoslavia’s breakup was imminent?  Why or why not?  

  2. Do you think Yugoslavia was prone to violence?  Why or why not? 

Here is the intro to my last essay: My last essay focused on the image of Yugoslavia as a politically diverse nation that made it unique among its neighbors in the Balkans, from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present.  Yugoslavia often experienced a different course of events compared to its eastern central European neighbors in World War One, the interwar years, World War Two, the Soviet period, and even after the fall of the Soviet Union.  Some historians are apt to explain this historical uniqueness in universalist or even relativist terms.  Still others have explained Yugoslavia’s history in narratives that succumb to what Sabrina Ramet calls ‘the myth of ancient hatreds’: Noel Malcolm, Mitja Velikonja, Robert Kaplan, Milovan Djilas, and CIA analysts among them. (more…)

A Carnival of Revolution

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

A Carnival of Revolution

By Padraic Kenney


            In most of the books that we have read this semester we are given an analysis of revolutions, uprisings, tear-downs and revolts that have focused on those in charge and those with supposed power. The leaders and their governments are usually key players, each book tends to highlight the big names and the big events. Such is not the case with Carnival of Revolution By Padraic Kenney. This book focuses on smaller unpronounced groups and on some occasion’s individuals. Padraic Kenney seeks to look at the nonconformist groups and their sometimes unconventional means of revolution. (more…)

Rocking the State

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Ramet, Sabrina Petra ed. Rocking the State: Rock Music and Politics in Eastern Europe and Russia. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994.

In Rocking the State, Sabrina Ramet compiles a comprehensive account of the socio-political effects of music in the last several decades of communist rule in the Eastern Bloc (with the exception of Albania and Romania which had no political music scene to speak of) and the Soviet Union.  The essays in Rocking the State revolve around the conflicts between proponents of a non-official youth culture and the cultural-commissars of the communist states.  Rocking the State is an appropriate follow up to A Carnival of Revolution as they both center on the destabilizing effects of youth-movements on their respective regimes.  Ramet and her contributors take their analysis of the youth driven musical movements further than the introduction provided by Kenney, addressing the trajectory of music through the eighties into the early nineties from an unofficial catalyst for political and social change into the arena of commodity rock.  Alex Kan and Nick Hayes clearly resent this metamorphosis asking: “Does anybody care if Poles can Rock and Roll with the best of Michael Bolton?” (53) (more…)

Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation

By Laura Silber and Allan Little

“We wrote this book to shed light on the decisions which led to the horror and destruction. It is an attempt to identify, clinically and dispassionately, the crucial events, the secret meetings, in both the lead up to war and in its progress once the fighting had started.” [1] Such begins the introduction to Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation by Laura Silber and Allan Little. This books sets out to offer to the reader a detailed description of how the breakdown of Yugoslavia came about and a explanation of the war in Bosnia. The books tries to go year to year, from event to event, allowing us to draw comprehension and also to be able to focus on parallels and patterns. (more…)

Post on Glenny’s, The Fall of Yugoslavia

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Misha Glenny, The Fall of Yugoslavia: Third Balkan War, 3rd ed. (United States: Penguin Books, 1996), p. 33.

Misha Glenny’s The Fall of Yugoslavia is a highly engaging, yet tragic account of the armed conflict that occurred in Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Glenny discusses the role that nationalism played in causing the conflict. The focus of the book is on the time period roughly between the years of 1990-1993. During this period, relations between people became tense, which led to a senseless, bloody war that took the lives of many Serbians, Croatians, and Albanian Moslems. (more…)

A Carnival Atmosphere

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

A Carnival of Revolution by Padraic Kenney

            Padraic Kenney’s work, A Carnival of Revolution, challenges some of the long-held beliefs about the fall of Communism in 1989. Approaching the collapse of Communism from an almost personal perspective of those taking part, Kenney argues that the fall of Communism was really not the surprising, spontaneous implosion sparked by outside forces. Nor was there truly a lack of political subversion and counterculture in those Eastern European countries, like Czechoslovakia, that seemed to suddenly erupt in revolutionary verve. What Kenney argues is that, in fact, the ideological underpinnings of these revolutionary movements had actually been long nurtured in the crumbling political societies of these communist countries. Additionally, the primary actors in this drama were not, as traditionally argued the intelligentsia, but more of a grass roots, personal movement that slowly came to realize the Soviet governments were not pushing back as vigorously as they once had. Steadily emboldened by this realization, common people created fertile ground for the revolutionary “end-games” that were about to unfold. (more…)

Padriac Kenny’s Carnival of Revolution

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

By Laszlo Taba

Kenney, Padraic. A Carnival of Revolution:  Central Europe 1989 (2002)

                I have been waiting to read A Carnival of Revolution all semester. I read it for another of Dr. Kelly’s classes, and this time around I enjoyed it more and found it more thought provoking than before, especially after all of the readings and class discussions this semester.  I will keep my general comments about the book brief, as everyone in the class has read it.

                Kenney describes the Central European revolutionary movements in an interesting way. Unlike other books discussed this semester (Eastern Europe in Revolution), Kenney does not confine his discussion to top down analyses that focus on elite politics or economies. He approaches the revolutions from the bottom up, on revolutionary movements and even on single individuals.  For instance, in chapter one he introduces Wladyslaw Frasyniuk. Frasyniuk was an important member of Solidarity and played an important role in the revolutionary movement in Poland, but he is not as well known as, say, Pope John Paul II or Ronald Reagan. (more…)

Slavic Civilization

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Robert A. Rothstein. “Slavic Civilizations and Ethnic Consciousness.” In Slavic and East European Journal. Vol. 16, 1972.

Robert A. Rothstein considers in what ways American culture has changed in terms of ethnic consciousness.  In a way, this process is similar to that found in the nationalization of previously non-nationalistic individuals, the illusory realization of an identity defined by group agreement.  In a way, this is the nationalization of Americans, except these Americans are being nationalized (though usually not in a terribly militant way) to their ancestor’s nations.  (more…)

Heavenly Serbia

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide. By Branimir Anzulovic, New York and London: New York University Press, 1999. Pp. xiv, 233. $24.95

“What went wrong?”

It is the obligatory question when it comes to genocide and one that will be heard more often as research and debate surrounding the subject continue their crescendo as genocide becomes more, not less common as human civilization advances into the 21st century. As with revolutions, there is no one cause propelling a wave of genocidal violence. However, it can generally be agreed upon is the propellant role played by national myth. As genocide is a violent manifestation of a drive to assert not only dominance of one group over another but superiority, inevitably collective national myth becomes not only the driving force behind the fervor required to commit acts of mass murder, but to justify them afterward. Heavenly Serbia is Branimir Anzulovic’ effort to explain in a modern context the role played by near ancient Serbian national mythology in fueling the genocidal violence of the 1990’s. (more…)

Matt Hobbs – Glenny’s “The Fall of Yugoslavia”

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Trying to conceive of European metropolitan capitals and bucolic rural countryside as the setting for vicious genocide and internecine conflict at the close of the twentieth century can cause cognitive dissidence for those who have seen the Continent in casual tourism. Mental images in collective memory of the world wars leave grainy, black and white images of destruction and physical suffering, safely removed by decades of time. The breakup of the Yugoslav republic in the 1990s, however, challenged these conceptions by throwing stark light onto struggles of incredible violence and ferocity, enacted very publically in a part of the world which, while certainly not Paris is London, was certainly no backwater.