Re-imagining Arcadia:The South Slavic Balkans in the Changing Ideal of Western Europe, 1885-1914

Foster, Samuel (2023) Re-imagining Arcadia:The South Slavic Balkans in the Changing Ideal of Western Europe, 1885-1914. In: Europe and the East. Ideas beyond Borders: Studies in Transnational and Intellectual History (1). Routledge, London and New York, pp. 210-232. ISBN 9781000878783

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


This chapter considers how changing understandings of ‘European civilisation’ among the continent’s more industrialised Western countries, notably Britain and France, were reflected in representations of the pre-Yugoslavian South Slavic Balkan territories before 1914. Since the late 1880s, Western European intellectual discourses were increasingly permeated by a sense of pessimism and latent anxieties concerning the ‘degenerative’ consequences of urbanisation. By the 1910s, Europe’s global pre-eminence was thus perceived as having stemmed from Western civic and moral qualities, rather than industrial and scientific advancements. Concurrently, the philosophical reconfiguration of these European ideals redefined the subjective meaning behind many of the pejorative archetypes associated with the South Slavic Balkans, engendering positive revaluations with a romantic emphasis on its mostly peasant population. Drawing on prevailing domestic concerns, Western European commentators even depicted such rural traditions as a spiritual palliative to the ‘decline’ of industrial society. The South Slavic Balkans’ changing status as an inflection of a reimagined European idea also found allegorical resonance in the region’s growing political instability. Local nationalist violence was itself interpreted as an expression of Europe’s wider slide into a state of modernistic degeneracy: an insidious trend that Western Europe was morally obligated to confront.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: history,sdg 16 - peace, justice and strong institutions ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1200/1202
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
UEA Research Groups:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 16 May 2023 08:32
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2024 01:22
DOI: 10.4324/9781003120131-12

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item