The Routledge History Handbook of Central and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century
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The Routledge History Handbook of Central and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century

Volume 2: Statehood

Włodzimierz Borodziej, Sabina Ferhadbegović, Joachim von Puttkamer, Włodzimierz Borodziej, Sabina Ferhadbegović, Joachim von Puttkamer

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eBook - ePub

The Routledge History Handbook of Central and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century

Volume 2: Statehood

Włodzimierz Borodziej, Sabina Ferhadbegović, Joachim von Puttkamer, Włodzimierz Borodziej, Sabina Ferhadbegović, Joachim von Puttkamer

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About This Book

Statehood examines the extending lines of development of nation-state systems in Eastern Europe, in particular considering why certain tendencies in state development found a different expression in this region compared to other parts of the continent.

This volume discusses the differences between the social developments, political decisions, and historical experience that have influenced processes of state-building, with a focus on the structural problems of the region and the different paths taken to overcome them. The book addresses processes of building social orders and examines the contribution of state institutions to social and cultural integration and disintegration. It analyses institutional and personnel continuities that have outlasted the great political changes of the twentieth century and addresses the expansion of state activity in shaping property relations in agriculture and industry as well as in social security and family politics. Taking a comparative approach based on experiential history, allowing individual experience to be detached from specific national references, the volume delineates a transnational comparison of problems shared within the region as they have been passed down through history, providing definition to the specificity of Eastern Europe and situating the historical experience of the region within a pan-European context.

The second in a four-volume set on Central and Eastern Europe in the twentieth century, it is the go-to resource for those interested in statehood and state-building in this complex region.

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Sabina Ferhadbegović

Theoretical approach: presenting, representing, communicating

Josip Vancaš had just turned 24 years old when he left Vienna to go to Sarajevo.1 Administrators, teachers, doctors and fortune-seekers of every kind flocked there from all corners of the monarchy after the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.2 Arriving in 1883 at the invitation of the joint Austro-Hungarian finance minister Benjámin von Kállay, Vancaš would, during the next thirty years, leave his mark on the new urban landscape unlike any other architect. While the Habsburg monarchy established itself in its newly occupied territories, Vancaš built the seat of the provincial government (Zgrada Zemaljske Vlade), the central post office, the regional bank and over one hundred other representative buildings, schools, banks and offices.
Before the seat of government was installed, the central organs of administration had been located in various old, and sometimes dilapidated, Ottoman-era buildings that Kállay, who was responsible for the administration of Bosnia, deemed ‘undignified’.3 He was very concerned that central state institutions be housed in appropriate structures, so that the local population would not get the impression that their new rulers were only temporary.4 The new government building was to be representative, reflecting the character of the new administration while also lending the new administration a physical dimension. Vancaš’ construction – which used more than three million bricks – resulted in a structure that outwardly resembled a Florentine palazzo, in the Historicist style quite widespread in Europe at that time.5 Theatres and art museums in Prague and Budapest looked virtually identical, but the new seat of the provincial government on Ćemaluša Street was clearly something different in Sarajevo. The new rulers intended it to be an architectural symbol of their power. The provincial government building symbolized Kállay’s own understanding of the new administration: uniform and efficient, dignified in its external appearance (reminiscent of the universal visual imagery of the Renaissance); structurally, it signified openness with clear lines of internal and external communication. It was thus fundamentally different from the other buildings around it and a departure from the Ottoman style of architecture; it was unmistakably new.
1 Dragan Damjanović, ‘Arhitekt Josip Vancaš i katedrala s biskupskim sklopom u Ðakovu’ [The architect Josip Vancaš and the cathedral with the episcopal complex in Ðakovo], Scrinia Slavonica 8 (2008): 177.
2 In 1881 there were 600 Austro-Hungarian civil servants working in Sarajevo. By 1897 the figure had risen to 7,000, a stark contrast to the number of Ottoman officials: only 120 at the time of occupation. See Emily Gunzburger Makaš, ‘Sarajevo’, in Capital Cities in the Aftermath of Empires: Planning in Central and Southeastern Europe, eds Emily Gunzburger Makaš and Tanja Damljanovic Conley (London: Routledge, 2010), 243.
3 See the website of the presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is now housed in the building:,2,1 (accessed 7 February 2014). More about Kállay in ­Jelena Milojković-Djurić, ‘Benjamin von Kállay`s Role in Bosnia-Herzegovina 1882–1903: Habsburg`s ­Policies in an Occupied Territory’, Serbian Studies 14 (2000): 211–20.
4 Božo Madžar, ‘Sto godina vladine zgrade u Sarajevu (1885–1985)’ [A hundred years of the government building in Sarajevo (1885–1985)], Glasnik arhiva 25 (1985): 249.
5 More about the building in Madžar, ‘Sto godina vladine zgrade’; Ibrahim Krzović, Arhitektura secesije u Bosni i Hercegovini [Vienna secession in Bosnia and Herzegovina] (Sarajevo: Sarajevo Publishing, 2005).
Figure 1.1 Emperor Francis Joseph visiting the Provincial Government Building, Sarajevo 1910
© Historijski Muzej Bosne i Hervegovine
The Habsburgs left Bosnia after the First World War, and in the decades that followed, Vancaš’ building was occupied by key institutions of the various successor states. With the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian provincial government and the founding of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the building became home to the government of the Sarajevo district and later served as the seat of government of the Drina Banovina province. In the socialist era, the president of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina inhabited the building, and with the subsequent Bosnian independence it housed the supreme governing body, the Bosnian ­presidency.
On 7 February 2014 angry demonstrators broke through a police cordon, cut up antique carpets, smashed gold-framed mirrors to pieces and destroyed hand-carved walnut shelves. Their ire was directed at the corrupt political leadership. Vancaš’ building burned that night, because in that moment the people perceived it as the symbol of a dysfunctional state whose failed political elites enriched themselves at the expense of the general public.6 The ­demonstrators acted like medieval iconoclasts, attacking the building as if it were a personification of the hated politicians.7
6 See the essay of Bosnia writer Faruk Šehić, ‘Fuck Them, They Make Three and a Half Thousand a Month’, in (accessed on 14 February 2014).
7 More on the principle of iconoclasm in Horst Bredekamp, Theorie des Bildaktes – Frankfurter Adorno-Vorlesungen 2007 (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 2010), 210.
The destruction was a symbolic act of anger by the population: the end of non-violent communication with the state and the termination of their loyalty. Ironically, some of those who set the fire were the same people who had risked their lives on 2 May 1992 as unarmed protesters, opposing the tanks of the Yugoslav People’s Army in order to protect the building. Back in 1992 the building mainly symbolized the independence of the Bosnian state – today, it symbolizes its failure.
The above examples of the projections and representations of statehood encompass the main focal points addressed in the current chapter: the question of representation, the performance and communication of state and statehood in Eastern Europe in the twentieth century, the experience of the state and the reactions to its forms of enactment.
Since antiquity, politics and statehood have been closely linked to communication and the form it takes in the media of the day. The modern state in particular gained influence by reproducing public rituals and performances; Indeed, it has always been dependent on cultural resources such as narratives, symbols and codes to create a sense of belonging.8 The modern state was representative and presented itself like any other social organization. The self-­representation of the state can manifest in a variety of ways, attaching itself to symbolic objects such as state architecture, or to individuals as in the case of the army.9 It also follows a variety of aims. It can serve to stabilize the system and have an integrative function – with imagined unity playing an important role here – or it can demonstrate power. It is important, however, to bear in mind what Quentin Skinner says, ‘that there has never been any generally acknowledged idea that can be captured by the word “state”’.10 The concern is therefore not the theoretical approximation of a concept of state. Rather, following Philip Manow, it is the ‘mythical convictions’11 of various Eastern European societies that have served as the basis of their political orders and their transformation in the twentieth century. What does the self-representation of the state tell us about the concept of state, and the self-understanding of these countries, some of which are newly founded? Or to put it another way, if we follow Pierre Bourdieu and his notion that the state is a ‘collective fiction’,12 a construct based on hidden ‘principles of social order, of physical and at the same time symbolic rule as well as physical and symbolic force’13 which has risen to a universalizing institution in twentieth-century Eastern Europe, then questions arise regarding what symbolic means these states used to legitimize and communicate this claim to power, how the symbolic legitimization of rule changed during the transition from imperial monarchical-absolutist rule to democracy, and which forms of representation justified the belief in these states. Ultimately, the ceremonial or representative aspect of state rule ­disappears neither with the emergence of bureaucratic institutions nor with democratization, but is merely perpetuated.14
8 More on this in Rudolf Schlögl, Bernhard Giesen and Jürgen Osterhammel, Die Wirklichkeit der Symbole: Grundlagen der Kommunikation in historischen und gegenwärtigen Gesellschaften (Constance: UVK, 2004).
9 Helmut Quaritsch, introduction to Die Selbstdarstellung des Staates (Berlin: Duncker Humblot, 1977), 5.
10 Quentin Skinner, Die drei Körper des Staates (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2012), 9.
11 Philip Manow, Im Schatten des Königs: Die politische Anatomie demokratischer Repräsentation (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 2008), 13.
12 Pierre Bourdieu, Über den Staat – Vorlesungen am Collège de France 1989–1992 (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 2014), 24.
13 Bourdieu, Über den Staat, 24.
14 Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger has impressively demonstrated this in her work. See, e.g. ‘Rituals of ­Decision-making? Early Modern European Assemblies of Estates as Acts of Symbolic Communication’, in Political Order and the Forms of Communication in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Yoshihisa Hattori (Rome: Viella, 2014), 63–95; idem, ‘“Parlamentarische Kultur” und “Symbolische Kommunikation:” Grun...

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