Editorial 1/2016 The "Balkans" as the European Inner Otherness

In her brilliant course From the Discourse of Brotherhood and Unity to the Discourses of EU Integration: The case of transition in Serbia at the Center for Comparative Conflict Studies in Belgrade, cultural and gender scientist Jelisaveta Blagojević gave the inspiration to the present issue of medien & zeit. One of Blagojevićs main concerns was to demonstrate and to sensitize her audience to the significance of designations: To wield the power of naming means to take part in ruling discourses that strongly influence the acceptance of thoughts and possible actions – which, unfortunately, often function to diminish the status of others. The current academic debates about Southeast Europe demonstrate structures of power created by language use and political terms. By developing the title of this issue The Balkans as the European Inner Otherness, the editors decided to use this much-discussed expression, which should be briefly addressed in the following.  Weiterlesen

Mirjana Stošić: Being-with(out) Balkan Eulogy for the Excess

This paper intends to show the significance of the specific hegemony of coded interpretations in the contemporary Western cultural relation to “cultural otherness”. Rendered through the West-East dichotomy, certain discursive issues of identity and difference, human and nonhuman, and the phenomena of race, nation, ethnic group, class, and gender are formulated within a polarized paradigm of Western thought. “Balkan” is theoretically made, unmade, and remade continuously and with all the consequences that it carries. To think of “Balkan” is to unthink the thinking itself, to rephrase, rename, reclaim the thinking. I intentionally use words aligned with language, with the “corpus” of thinking, the border point of the corporeality of thinking. It means to rewrite, to unwrite; not to commence but to suspend, to defer finishing, to safeguard the openness of the questions of/on “Balkan”; to inhabit the interruption that this non-European other punctures in the vivid, colourful, and tightly knit canvas of Europe.

Anida Sokol: Between Ethnic and Civic Nationalism Census and Nation Building in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The aim of this paper is to illustrate ethno-national and civic narratives through the analysis of propaganda campaigns during the Census of 2013 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first post-war systematic enumeration of the country’s population was highly politicized and contested and was preceded by propaganda campaigns by all the three ethno-national groups that called on people to identify themselves as Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats, together with the religious affiliation and mother tongue that these categories entail. On the other hand, civil society groups advocated a civic identity, in protest against ethno-national divisions in the country and with the aim to alter the constitution, which is based on ethnicity that gives privileges to specific groups.
Particularly visible and aggressive were campaigns by the Bosniak religious and political groups that included elements of the Bosniak nation-building narrative and specifically focused on the importance of the census, since it was the first time that Bosniaks could self-identify as such. According to this narrative, the division of the Bosnian Muslims into Bosniaks, Bosnian and Herzegovinians, and Muslims was an “auto-genocide” and a danger to the future integrity of the country. Contrarily, civil society groups used human rights discourse and focused on the discrimination of the category of Others. They did not propagate a specific self-identification, but called on people to identify unconstitutionally with the aim to change the political system of the country.

Silvia Nadjivan: Serbia’s In-Betweenness The Interplay of Balkanism, Europeanness and Disappointed Expectations in Serbia’s EU Integration Process

This article focuses on the public discourse about the EU accession process in Serbia as seen through the prism of symbolic geography that is historically structured by the dichotomy of Europe and the Balkans. On the basis of theoretical approaches such as mental mapping, symbolic geography, Balkanism and the concept of Euopeanness as an interplay between self-perceptions and perceptions of the so-called other, this paper tries to reconstruct the paradoxical processes of aiming to belong to the EU and neglecting this option.
During the 1990s, the liberal-democratic, EU-oriented opposition “Balkanized” the Milošević regime in order to delegitimize and ultimately to successfully overthrow it in 2000. Referring to Western European values and Europeannes as such, this new liberal-democratic government around the Democratic Party (DS) awakened expectations of Serbia’s quick EU accession, a resulting prosperity, and improved living standards. The fact that those promises did not come true delegitimized the DS, which after twelve years of ruling went into opposition. Ironically, those politicians who had been part of the Milošević regime and thus Balkanized by their EU-oriented opponents, are now in power and are, consequently, fostering Serbia’s EU integration and accession process. Those developments affirm a broad, discursively constructed commitment to Europeanness.

Eva T. Asboth: Europe through the Gaze of the “Illustrirte Zeitung” Anno 1858 Tracing the Narrative “The Balkans are Europe’s Powder Keg”

In the year 1858, the events in the Balkans aroused the attention of the European public. The Illustrirte Zeitung [illustrated newspaper], which was published in Leipzig, provided its readers not only with in-depth reportages about these events, but also with pictures. The illustrator Felix Kanitz, who travelled five decades long for ethnographical studies and art history through the Balkans, started focusing on the region while he witnessed the events in 1858. Kanitz’s reports for the Illustrirte Zeitung included ethnographic descriptions in text and pictures; another author who didn’t sign the articles concentrated on the political and social circumstances, which make the Illustrirte Zeitung an interesting source. Metaphors used in this weekly newspaper contributed to the narrative of the uncivilized and rough people in the Balkans, which is reflected in descriptions of the landscape. In this narrative the element of Serbian roots stated by ethnographers like Felix Kanitz competes with Austria’s aim to repress the feeling of belonging together within the region.

Nedad Memić: New Crisis, Old Perception? The “Balkan Route” in the German-Language Media

Since last summer, Southeast Europe has been in the focus of international politics and the media. This time, the reason does not originate from the region itself, but was imposed on the Balkan countries, beginning with Macedonia and Serbia. The influx of refugees from the Near and Middle East region reached its peak in the autumn months, being accompanied by pictures, ranging from unpleasant to horrific, of people trying to find a safe haven in some of the Western European countries. As mentioned in the articles in this volume, the terms Western Balkans and Western Europe are political instruments used by the latter for purposes of distinction, as are the images of the Balkan Route in the German-language media, which is investigated in the present paper.

The following comment is based on analyzing the media coverage of the so-called Balkan Route taken by refugees, as described in selected German-language media in 2015 and 2016. The central questions are: What does the perception of the Balkan Route and the situation of refugees look like in selected, highly frequented German-language media? Is the perception of the Balkan Route influenced by the general perception of the region in the German-speaking countries and the EU? Can we draw historical parallels with the perception and the dealing of some past crises in the Balkan region from former European powers? …

Christina Krakovsky: The Political Element in Serbian Public Discourse Or: Where to Look for Political Involvement in a Seemingly Apolitical Society

The political system in Southeast Europe has a long and complicated history. Former citizens of Yugoslavia are not only used to comprehensive manipulation and exploitation of history by politicians, but also to the silencing of stories in a private and public context. It is hardly surprising that the overwhelming majority of studies examining the political activities and participation among the population in this region conclude that there is a rather low involvement in democratic processes by citizens. Focusing mainly on Serbia, this paper takes a different approach. The present paper aims to demonstrate that the political field is closely entwined with cultural, artistic, and civil activism. Hence, a vast amount of political competence lies in an often-overlooked, so-called non-political area. A recognition and integration of this political potential could be an important step towards a unified and equal Europe.

Rezensionen 1/2016

Bernhard Pörsken & Andreas Narr: Die Idee des Mediums. Reden zur Zukunft des Journalismus. edition medienpraxis. Köln: Halem Verlag 2015, 219 Seiten.
rezensiert von Roman Hummel

Tobias Conradi: Breaking News. Automatismen in der Repräsentation von Krisen- und Katastrophenereignissen. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink, 342 Seiten.
rezensiert von Barbara Metzler

Anton Tantner: Die ersten Suchmaschinen. Adressbüros, Fragämter, Intelligenz-Comptoirs. Berlin: Verlag Klaus Wagenbach 2015, 173 Seiten.
rezensiert von Andrea Reisner

Jürgen Wilke (Hg.): Die frühesten Schriften für und wider die Zeitung. Christophorus Besold (1629), Ahasver Fritsch (1676), Christian Weise (1676), Tobias Peucer (1690), Johann Ludwig Hartmann (1679), Daniel Hartnack (1688). Mit einer Einführung von Jürgen Wilke. (= Reihe ex libris kommunikation. Klassische Texte über Medien und Kommunikation, Bd. 17) Baden-Baden: Nomos 2015,
208 Seiten.
rezensiert von Erik Koenen