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Volume 19, Issue 3, 2014

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Where is Serbia? Traditions of Spatial Identity and State Positioning in Serbian Geopolitical Culture

Where is Serbia? Traditions of Spatial Identity and State Positioning in Serbian Geopolitical Culture

Bojan Savića*

pages 684-718


This article studies the geopolitical traditions of spatial imagining of Serbia amongst the country’s political elites since the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. It examines some of the socially dominant discourses of spatial positioning of Serbia as a historical-political narrative. The study argues that one can identify five distinct geopolitical traditions that, in variably overlapping or mutually contradicting ways, address two questions: ‘Where is Serbia’ and ‘How is its perceived smallness felt and described’? A first tradition is that which attributes sacred, divine and martyr-like features to the country, its small earthly “Serbian lands” and people. A second tradition conveys spatially maximised and biopolitical visions of “Serbdom”, amounting to variable designs of a “Greater Serbia” anxious about its felt frontiers and smallness. The final three traditions are the mutually exclusive positioning of Serbia around an East-West axis as either Eastern or Western, or a geographically unique and exceptional bridge between the two, whereby each positioning recasts smallness as a crucial feature of geopolitical exceptionality. The article concludes with some general observations on the challenges of studying geopolitical cultures.

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  • Citation information:
  • Published online: 08 Aug 2014

Author affiliations

  • a School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech, Alexandria, VA, USA

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