Western attitudes to war in the Balkans and the shifting meanings of violence, 1912-1991

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This article challenges the common scholar presumption since the 1990s that the Balkans have been viewed at least since the 1910s in negative terms, through the lenses of a'frozen' stereotype, as a land of senseless and barbaric violence. Instead of continuity and uniformity, media, scholar and political texts from Britain, France, Germany and the United States show a great variety, from enthusiastic support and active encouragement to the more familiar motifs of shocked horror and condemnation. The key to these varieties was not so much the type of violence that was taking place in the region, but the lenses through which it was viewed. Shifting strategic and national aims, different ideological priorities and clashing cultural stereotypes, were often the key factors deciding whether Balkan violence was seen as 'either a crime against civilization or a crusade on behalf of it'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-239
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Contemporary History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2012


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