Ethnic Nationalism: The Tragic Death of Yugoslavia

Bogdan Denitch, Author University of Minnesota Press $44.95 (229p) ISBN 978-0-8166-2458-4
Denitch, a professor of sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and author of The End of the Cold War , has a personal stake in Yugoslavia. The child of Serb parents, his relatives have long been part of Yugoslavia's diplomatic and governing corps (one grandfather was a member of the Black Hand). His ancestry, however, hasn't stopped him from condemning Serbs for their treatment of Albanians in Kosovo; their early unsuccessful attack against Slovenia, which spelled the end of Yugoslav unity; and the nationalistic rhetoric which succeeded in inciting ethnic Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to violence. Alternating with a deep sadness for his native country, is an edgy realpolitik: Denitch believes the international community (especially Germany and Austria, which share a problematic history in the region) worsened matters by prematurely recognizing secessionist republics; by sending in a peace force paralyzed by ``an excessive respect for formal sovereignty''; and by predicating aid on the acceptance of a free market ideal that, Denitch believes, will eventually result in the once relatively prosperous Yugoslavia looking more like Latin America than like the EC. Denitch's chapters are really free-standing essays with the result that there is some repetition and the occasional insufficiently or tardily explained reference. But if the programmatic logic of Ethnic Nationalism escapes some readers, the lessons it infers from Yugoslavia to Spain and Catalonia, the Lombard League, Ireland and racial tensions in the U.S., will be hard to ignore. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
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