|The premise of the volume is that under socialism national history was a battleground for the legitimization of the party-state. Communist regimes developed meta-narratives of the past based upon a synthesis of historical materialism and nationalist/patriotic motifs. Subsequently, during post-communism, as the screen of Marxism-Leninism has been lifted, a process of “coming to terms with the past” (Vergangenheitsbewältigung) began to unfold generating both domestic competing claims rooted in the politics of the present and antagonistic visions of the nation and its history in the Southeastern European regional context.
The book contains articles on each country in the region authored mainly by domestic scholars. Thus, one can get an idea of the overall patterns of dealing with the past and with the legacy of communist historical narratives in the area in the context of the often conflicting stances of nationalist discourses and the program for democratization. Ultimately, all contributions deal with the attempts to create a new historical consciousness, beyond communist instrumentalizations, sensitive to regional otherness and aiming to define a story form within counter-measuring the Balkanist stereotypes characteristic of the 1990s’ in Western academia and public space.
All contributions also deal with the continuities with the comunist period in terms of methodology, topics, and academic communities. Historical scholarship became a cluster of political instrumentalizations determined by either socialist-period sedimentations (e.g., Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia) or by nationalistic imperatives (e.g., Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo). The changes and variations within the historical field are highly dependent on the socio-political context, so further liberalization also generates alternatives for historical discourse dealing with the past on a wider range beyond the politics of national history.