SERBIAN NATIONALISM or SERBDOM asserts that
Serbs are a nation and
promotes the cultural unity of Serbs. It is an ethnic nationalism ,
originally arising in the context of the general rise of nationalism
in the Balkans under Ottoman rule , under the influence of Serbian
Vuk Stefanović Karadžić
Vuk Stefanović Karadžić and
Ilija Garašanin . Serbian
nationalism was an important factor during the
Balkan Wars which
contributed to the decline of the
Ottoman Empire , during World War I
, and again during the breakup of
Yugoslavia and the
Yugoslav Wars of
After 1878, Serbian nationalists merged their goals with those of
Yugoslavists , and emulated the Piedmont 's leading role in the
Risorgimento of Italy, by claiming that
Serbia sought not only to
Serbs in one state, but that
Serbia intended to be a South
Slavic Piedmont that would unite all
South Slavs in one state known as
Yugoslavia . Serbian nationalists supported a centralized Yugoslav
state that guaranteed the unity of the
Serbs while resisting efforts
to decentralize the state. The St. Vitus Day Constitution adopted by
Yugoslavia in 1920, consolidated the country as a centralized state
under the Serbian Karađorđević monarchy. Others in Yugoslavia
opposed the centralized state and demanded decentralization, including
Croatian nationalists who demanded an autonomous Croatia within
Yugoslavia, that was accepted by the Yugoslav government in the
Cvetković–Maček Agreement of 1939. Serbian nationalists opposed
the agreement on the grounds that it weakened the unity of Serbdom,
asserting its importance to
Yugoslavia with the slogan "Strong
Serbdom, Strong Yugoslavia". The invasion and partition of Yugoslavia
World War II
World War II , resulted in violent ethnic conflict between
Bosniaks , and others, resulting in a
highly violent sectarian variant of
Serbian nationalism rising in the
The decentralization of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
in the 1960s and the suppression of all ethnic nationalist sentiments
led to a Serbian nationalist backlash and resurgence in the 1980s,
that condemned post-
World War II
World War II
Yugoslavism and the decentralization
of Yugoslavia. Upon
Yugoslavia collapsing in the 1990s with multiple
republics seeking secession, Serbian nationalists demanded that all
Serbs in all the Yugoslav republics had the right to be united in a
common state, ethnic conflict occurred between
Serbs seeking unity
Serbia and other Yugoslav ethnicities seeking independence.
* 1 History
* 1.1 19th century
World War I
World War I
Breakup of Yugoslavia
Breakup of Yugoslavia and
* 2 Mottos
* 3 See also
* 4 Notes
* 5 References
* 6 Further reading
Rise of nationalism in the Balkans and Serbian
historiography Portrait of
Vuk Stefanović Karadžić
Vuk Stefanović Karadžić , the
founder of Serbian nationalism.
The origins of
Serbian nationalism date back to the 19th century
beginning with the 1804 uprisings by
Serbs against Ottoman rule that
eventually led to the creation of an independent Serbian state in
1878. However Serbian nationalists themselves cite the origins of the
movement as being the
Battle of Kosovo on
Saint Vitus Day in 1389
Serbia and the Ottoman Empire, the battle that holds important
symbolic meaning to Serbian nationalists. The Serbian linguist Vuk
Stefanović Karadžić is commonly considered the father of Serbian
nationalism. Karadžić created a linguistic definition of the Serbs
that included all speakers of the
Štokavian dialect regardless of
their religious affiliation or geographical origin. However
Karadžić acknowledged the right of some Štokavian-speaking peoples
to call themselves names other than Serbs.
Ilija Garašanin was
another early proponent of
Serbian nationalism and a proponent of a
Greater Serbia - a Serbian state whose borders were extended to
Serbs in the Balkan region.
Serbia was recognized as an independent state in 1878, both
South Slavs and the Serbian government considered their peoples in
Austria-Hungary to be under occupation resulting in
increasing antagonism between
Austria-Hungary from the late
19th century to the early 20th century.
WORLD WAR I
In 1914 Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Bosnian
Gavrilo Princip resulting in Austria-Hungary
Serbia of involvement and subsequently declaring war on
Serbia, resulting in a clash of alliances and the eruption of World
War I . In spite of heavy casualties,
Serbia benefited from its
allies' eventual victory against Germany and Austria-Hungary, with
Serbia subsequently joining with territories claimed by Yugoslav
nationalists to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes ,
informally known as
Yugoslavia , in 1918. Serbian nationalists
associated with a centralist vision of
Yugoslavia as opposed to a
confederal or federal state as advocated by non-Serbs. The antagonism
between a centralized
Yugoslavia supported by Serbian nationalists and
Yugoslavia supported by Croatian and Slovenian
nationalists was the main cause of unstable governance in Yugoslavia
during the interwar period .
In 1920, the centralized vision of
Yugoslavia as supported by Serbian
nationalists was enacted in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs,
Croats, and Slovenes passed on
Saint Vitus Day that became known as
the "St. Vitus Day Constitution" (Vidovdanski ustav). Antagonism
which rose between Serbian nationalists versus Croatian and Slovenian
nationalists culminated in the 1928 assassination of Stjepan Radić on
the floor of the Yugoslav parliament and the subsequent deterioration
of parliamentary democracy in the country. In the aftermath King
Alexander discarded the St. Vitus Day Constitution, proclaimed a royal
dictatorship, and officially renamed the country Kingdom of
Yugoslavia. King Alexander pursued a policy of encouraging modern
Yugoslav nationalism which caused dissatisfaction amongst Serbian
nationalists who saw Yugoslav nationalism as a disavowal of Serbian
nationalism. Serbian nationalists were outraged at the
Cvetković–Maček Agreement between Serb and Croat political leaders
that created the
Banovina of Croatia , an autonomous province within
the kingdom which gave Croatia virtual autonomy. In response, Serbian
nationalists founded the Serb Cultural Club which attacked the new
Yugoslav nationalism under the motto of "Strong Serbdom, Strong
Yugoslavia was invaded and occupied by the
Axis Powers during World
War II , with
Nazi Germany establishing puppet states throughout
Serbian nationalism rose in a militant response
Chetnik forces of
Draža Mihailović against both the Axis
forces and the communist
Yugoslav Partisans . The war saw the rise of
an extreme anti-Muslim variant of
Serbian nationalism practised by the
Chetniks who massacred Bosnian Muslims during the war.
In the aftermath of
World War II
World War II and the seizure of power by the
Josip Broz Tito 's communist
established. The new regime repressed nationalism of any culture that
was deemed to be a threat to the state.
Serbian nationalism then
developed during the 1960s by intellectuals such as Dobrica Ćosić
and challenged the state-sponsored policies of
Brotherhood and Unity ". Tito's later expulsion of the
nationalist-leaning Serbian communist official
Aleksandar Ranković in
the 1960s was perceived as an attack on Serbian nationalism. After
the ousting of Ranković, Serbian nationalist intellectuals
increasingly began viewing
Yugoslavia as a detrimental experience for
the Serb nation.
Serbian nationalism escalated following the death of Tito in 1980.
Serbian intellectuals began breaking a number of taboos—for example,
Branko Petranović identified Mihailović, the
Chetnik rival of Tito
World War II
World War II as being an important "anti-fascist ". Dobrica
Ćosić joined other Serb political writers in writing the highly
controversial Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
of 1986. The Memorandum claimed to promote solutions to restore
Yugoslav unity, but it focused on fiercely condemning Titoist
Yugoslavia of having economically subjugated
Serbia to Croatia and
Slovenia and accused ethnic Albanians of committing genocide against
Serbs in Kosovo. The Memorandum was harshly condemned by the ruling
League of Communists of
Yugoslavia as well as the government of Serbia
Ivan Stambolić . Members who would later support Serbian
nationalism chose follow the party line and denounced the Memorandum
Slobodan Milošević , at the time a Serbian communist
official, did not speak publicly about the issue, but in a meeting
with members of the secret police he formally endorsed the official
government denouncement of the Memorandum, stating:
The appearance of the Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Arts and
Sciences represents nothing else but the darkest nationalism. It means
the liquidation of the current socialist system of our country, that
is the disintegration after which there is no survival for any nation
or nationality. ... Tito's policy of brotherhood and unity ... is the
only basis on which Yugoslavia’s survival can be secured.
Slobodan Milošević ,
President of Serbia
President of Serbia (1989–1997), President of
BREAKUP OF YUGOSLAVIA AND YUGOSLAV WARS
Radovan Karadžić in 1994, President of Republika Srpska
However, amidst the rising nationalist sentiment in
Serbia in 1987,
Milošević became their major spokesperson in the communist
establishment. Milošević supported the premises of the Memorandum
that included promoting centralization of power in the federal
Yugoslav government to decrease the powers of the republics and
autonomous provinces and a nationalist motto of "strong Serbia, strong
Yugoslavia". During the
Anti-Bureaucratic Revolution , Milošević
urged Serbians and Montenegrins to "take to the streets" and utilized
the slogan "Strong Serbia, Strong Yugoslavia" that drew support from
Serbs but alienated Bosnian Muslims, Croats, Kosovo Albanians,
Macedonians, and Slovenes. To these groups, Milošević's agenda
reminded them of the Serb hegemonic political affairs of the Kingdom
Yugoslavia and Ranković's policies.
Milošević and his supporters appealed to nationalist and populist
passion by speaking of Serbia's importance to the world and using
aggressive and violent political rhetoric, in a
Belgrade speech on 19
November 1988, he spoke of
Serbia as facing battles against both
internal and external enemies. In Vojvodina, a mob of pro-Milošević
demonstrators that included 500 Kosovo
Serbs and local Serbs
demonstrated at the provincial capital, accusing the leadership in
Vojvodina of supporting separatism and for being "traitors". In
August 1988, meetings by supporters of the Anti-Bureaucratic
Revolution were held in many locations in
Serbia and Montenegro, with
increasingly violent nature, with calls being heard such as "Give us
arms!", "We want weapons!", "Long live Serbia—death to Albanians!",
and "Montenegro is Serbia!". In the same month, Milošević began
efforts designed to destabilize the governments in Montenegro and
Bosnia-Herzegovina to allow him to install his followers in those
republics. By 1989, Milošević and his supporters controlled Central
Serbia along with the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina,
supporters in the leadership of Montenegro, and agents of the Serbian
security service were pursuing efforts to destabilize the government
in Bosnia a Chamber of Provinces and Republics to represent regional
affairs; and a Chamber of Associated Labour. Serbia's specific
endorsement of a Chamber of Citizens and a Chamber of Associated
Labour faced opposition from the republics of Croatia and Slovenia as
they saw the proposals as increasing Serbia's power and federal state
control over the economy, which was the opposite of their intention to
decrease federal state control over the economy. Slovenia staunchly
opposed the Milošević government's plans and promoted its own
reforms that would make
Yugoslavia a decentralized confederation .
Croatia and Slovenia denounced the actions by Milošević and began
to demand that
Yugoslavia be made a full multi-party confederal state.
Milošević claimed that he opposed a confederal system but also
declared that should a confederal system be created, the external
Serbia would be an "open question", insinuating that his
government would pursue creating an enlarged Serbian federal republic
Yugoslavia was decentralized. In 1989, the autonomy of SAP Kosovo
SAP Vojvodina were de facto abolished by constitutional reforms
that transferred powers away from the provinces to the Serbian
Milošević rejected the independence of Croatia in 1991, and even
after the formation of the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia (FRY), it
too did not initially recognize Croatia's independence. Plans by
Milošević to carve out territory from Croatia to the local
begun by June 1990, according to the diary of Serbian official Borisav
Jović . The Serbian government along with a clique of
pro-Milošević members of the Yugoslav army and its general staff,
secretly adopted the RAM or "frame" plan that involved the partition
of Croatia and Bosnia to give large amounts of territory to the local
Serbs that would remain united with Serbia, effectively a Greater
Serbia. Armaments and military equipment were placed in strategic
positions throughout Croatia and Bosnia for use by the Serbs, and
Serbs were trained as police and paramilitary soldiers in
preparation for war.
Interviews with government officials involved in political affairs
Serbia and the
Republic of Macedonia have revealed that
Milošević planned to arrest the Republic of Macedonia's political
leadership and replace it with politicians loyal to Serbia, when the
Republic of Macedonia was still part of Yugoslavia. Upon the Republic
of Macedonia seceding in 1991, the Serbian government declared that
Macedonia was an "artificial nation" and
Serbia allied with Greece
against the Republic of Macedonia, even suggesting a partition of the
Republic of Macedonia between
Serbia and Greece. Milošević demanded
the self-determination of
Serbs in the
Republic of Macedonia and did
not recognize the independence of the
Republic of Macedonia until
List of Serbian mottos
* "Samo sloga Srbina spasava" ("Only Unity Saves the
Serbs "), read
into the "four letters S" in the
Serbian cross depicted on the flag
and coat of arms of
Kosovo je Srbija " ("Kosovo is Serbia"), reaction to Kosovo's
disputed independence from Serbia.
Srbija do Tokija " ("
Serbia to Tokyo"), in origin a slogan of
Serbian soccer fans.
* "Bog čuva Srbe" ("God saves Serbs"), expression of Serbian faith
and trust in God.
* "Nema krsta bez tri prsta" ("There's no cross without three
fingers"), an explanation of the Serbian Three-finger Salute and
expressing Serbian Orthodoxy.
* Bog je Srbin ("God is a Serb"), a saying showing the Serb's
perspective of being a chosen people .
Battle of Kosovo (1870), painting by
Adam Stefanović , a
depiction of the
Battle of Kosovo of 1389.
Battle of Kosovo on
Saint Vitus Day in 1389 between
Ottoman Empire holds important symbolism in Serbian nationalism.
Symbols used to express Serbian ethnic nationalism include the
Serbian cross , a number of mottos or slogans and the so-called
three-finger salute .
* Rise of nationalism under the
* Bosniak nationalism
Breakup of Yugoslavia
Breakup of Yugoslavia
Kosovo je Srbija
* National symbols of
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* ^ A B Ramet 2006, 322.
* ^ Wachtel 2006 , pp. 86.
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* ^ A B Ramet 2006 , pp. 321.
* ^ A B Ramet 2006 , pp. 337.
* ^ A B C Ramet 2006 , pp. 119.
* ^ Ramet 2006 , pp. 350.
* ^ A B Ramet 2006 , pp. 351.
* ^ Ramet 2006 , pp. 354.
* ^ A B C D Ramet 2006 , pp. 355.
* ^ Ramet 2006 , pp. 361.
* ^ Ramet 2006 , pp. 349.
* ^ A B Ramet 2006 , pp. 338.
* ^ Ramet 2006 , pp. 339.
* ^ Ramet 2006 , pp. 359.
* ^ Sriram, Martin-Ortega & Herman 2010 , p. 70.
* ^ A B LeBor 2004 , pp. 140.
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* ^ A B C Ackermann 2000 , p. 72.
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* Balkar and Karachay
* Burmese Buddhist
* East Turkestani
* Hong Kong
* Malaysian Malay
* Malaysian Hindu
* Sinhalese Buddhist
* South Asian Muslim
* Sri Lankan Tamil
* in Albania
* in Kosovo
* in Rep. of Macedonia
* Balkar and Karachay
* in Austria
* Puerto Rican
* NZ South Islander
* Arab (spanning two continents)
* Soviet (spanning two continents)
* NOTE: Forms of nationalism based primarily on ethnic groups are
listed above. This does not imply that all nationalists with a given
ethnicity subscribe to that form of ethnic nationalism .
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