Pioneering essays on the idea of the Balkan as a body of knowledge and a cultural metaphor.
This challenging anthology is based on the premise that geographic identity conveys a rich and revealing intellectual coherence, i.e., that the concept of the "Balkans" represents a wealth of values, attitudes, and policies demanding careful explication. Edward Said's influential Orientalism successfully applied this approach to Western thinking about the Middle East, but this anthology, like Maria Todorova's Imagining the Balkans, interprets "Balkanism" as a perception both of outsiders and of peoples in the region. The approach, for example, claims that the consequences of war and "re-territorialization" have worked to "constitute" the nation, that "ferocious competition over minor differences" is a source of group identity, and the Byzantine legacy of "ambivalence" remains a feature of national consciousness. Better-known propositions among the chapters include Roumanian rejection of a "Balkan" for a "European" identity. Editors Bjelic' (Univ. of Southern Maine) and Savic' (Univ. of Belgrade) have also included such diverse themes as sexuality in Serbia and the "actuality" of theorist Carl Schmidt in understanding the war in Kosovo. For some contributors, the use of postmodern vocabulary seems less a source of insight than a badge of relevance, but the volume is valuable for area specialists and graduate students. Recommended for larger academic libraries.-Zachary T. Irwin, Sch. of Humanities & Social Science, Pennsylvania State, Erie