|The intention of the two editors is to present a history of the national entities in the region that takes into account the patterns of change and continuity within a century-wide context of ideological transformation. All contributors deal with their topics in terms of the transfers and legacies from one regime to the other – from pre-communism through communism into post-communism. The main argument for this approach is that all regimes, regardless if communist, national-pluralist, conservative, or neo-fascist developed some discourse of national memory that sustained the identity of their political communities. And such instrumentalized memory was fundamentally based on trauma and triumphalism, which in their turn created domestic and regional stereotypes of otherness.
The volume stresses the similarity of historical experience, as the modern institutional frameworks of the Southeastern European states became the arena of the political and religious ideologies advocated by these countries’ elites. They all emphasize the paradox of these ideologically based identitarian politics: they were attempts of symbolically founding ethnic identities, but they often were maximalist and/or hegemonic both domestically and regionally, thus preventing the cohesion of these societies and the strengthening of the nation-states. At the same time, the similarity of intent and method allows the researchers to construct a Southeastern European comparative framework for the twentieth century. The referents for remembrance shaping the various ideologies and national narratives in the region, in the context of war and political turmoil, are the loci of interaction between these identitarian discourses. Thus, the contributors stress not only the communality of experience, but also that of the conceptualizations of it.