Skeletons in a Slavic Closet. Controversies of Historical Memory and Nation-Building in Serbia and Croatia after the Collapse of the SFRY

Skeletons in a Slavic Closet. Controversies of Historical Memory and Nation-Building in Serbia and Croatia after the Collapse of the SFRY

Efremenko D.V.,

MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia; Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 101363 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2021.05.09

For citation:

Efremenko D.V. Skeletons in a Slavic Closet. Controversies of Historical Memory and Nation-Building in Serbia and Croatia after the Collapse of the SFRY. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No. 5. P. 127-145. (In Russ.).

The reported study was supported within the framework of the project No. 2023-03-01 of the Institute for International Studies of MGIMO (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation “Post-Communist Europe as a space for the production of the politics of memory”.


The article explores the experience of the political use of the historical past in the post-Yugoslav space on the example of two key states in the region – Serbia and Croatia. Serbo-Croatian rivalry, twice in the 20th century turning into bloody confrontation, left a deep imprint on the politics of memory of these polities. Serbian and Croatian historical narratives describing the events of the Second World War and the armed conflicts of 1991-1995 not only compete with each other, but offer incompatible interpretations. There are reasons to speak in this case about the emergence of a mnemonic security dilemma. The dilemma in question implies that the systematic challenge of a certain narrative, significant for the “biography” of the community and the state behind it, ultimately undermines the confidence of the community representatives in the stability of its existence. In these conditions, the conflict of memories becomes an important and even a constituent element of the formation of a macro-political identity. As the dynamics of Serbo-Croatian relations show, the dilemma of mnemonic security is quite inertial and stable; it can persist and hinder post-conflict settlement, even in a significantly changed international political context when the main prerequisites for confrontation are becoming a thing of the past. The article also analyzes the contradictory influence of the European integration processes on the politics of memory in Croatia and Serbia. 

politics of memory, disintegration of the SFRY, Serbia, Croatia, ethno-nationalism, identity, ethnic mobilization, the dilemma of mnemonic security, post-conflict settlement, European integration.


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Content No. 5, 2021

See also:

Timofeev I.N.,
Security Dilemma. Risk of Armed Conflict between the Great Powers. – Polis. Political Studies. 2009. No4

Ponamaryova A.M., Tatuntz S.A.,
Immigration as problem of national security of the RF. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No4

Diesen G.,
Coercing “European Integration”? Assessing the Offensive Posture of the EU CSDP. – Polis. Political Studies. 2015. No6

Rutland P.,
The presence of absence: ethnicity policy in Russia. – Polis. Political Studies. 2011. No2

Prazauskas A.A.,
Ethno-Nationalism, Multi-Ethnic State and the Process of Globalization. – Polis. Political Studies. 1997. No2



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Polis. Political Studies
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Blyakher L.Ye.
Russian Political Discourse and Conceptualization of a Political Expanse in the Making.

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