What is the “West”? Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and the “West” in Early Twentieth-Century Serbian Culture

Zoran Milutinovic


The study reinterprets the confl ict between Jovan Skerlić (1877–1914), a literary historian, social-democrat politician, staunch advocate of the Europeanization of Serbia, one of the most infl uential public intellectuals of his time, generally considered to be the “apostle of the West,” and Isidora Sekulić (1877–1958), a writer, who despite the modernist poetics of her works, is regarded as a belated exponent of national Romanticism. The interpretation of their works, focused on their respective constructions of the “West” and “Europe” on the eve of the First World War, reveals how unstable and shifting are the conceptual frames in which conventional interpretations of nationalist and “Westernizer” positions are carried out. The study argues that the stability which the “pro-” and “anti- Western” positions have in the Cold War context cannot be transferred to an analysis of early twentieth-century East European culture. Despite their clash, neither Skerlić nor Sekulić can be branded as either Westernizers or nationalists. The study aims to analyze the position occupied by both of them—in addition to many other East European intellectuals and politicians of the same period—and suggest “cosmopolitan nationalism” as its name.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cbp.2010.153


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