Samuel Foster, “Yugoslavia in the British Imagination: Peace, War and Peasants before Tito”

Despite Britain entering the 20th century as the dominant world power, public discourses were imbued with a cultural pessimism and rising social anxiety. Through this study, Samuel Foster explores how this changing domestic climate shaped perceptions of other cultures, and Britain’s relationship to them, focusing on those Balkan territories that formed the first Yugoslavia from 1918 to 1941.

Yugoslavia in the British Imagination examines these connections and demonstrates how the popular image of the region’s peasantry evolved from that of foreign ‘Other’ to historical victim – suffering at the hand of modernity’s worst excesses and symbolizing Britain’s perceived decline. This coincided with an emerging moralistic sense of British identity that manifested during the First World War. Consequently, Yugoslavia was legitimized as the solution to peasant victimization and, as Foster’s nuanced analysis reveals, enabling Britain’s imagined (and self-promoted) revival as civilization’s moral arbiter.

Drawing on a range of previously unexplored archival sources, this compelling transnational analysis is an important contribution to the study of British social history and the nature of statehood in the modern Balkans.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Part I. The Era of the Fin de Siecle
1. Themes and Contexts before the 20th Century
2. Allegorising Edwardian Anxiety before 1914
3. Victimhood and the Changing Meaning of Archetypes
Part II. The Great War
4. The British and the Balkan Front
5. Peasant Martyrdom and Yugoslavia in Wartime Propaganda
Part III. The Post- and Interwar Decades
6. Yugoslavia in the ‘Unofficial’ Mind
7. Towards the Next Crisis?

Product details

Published            15 Jul 2021

Format Hardback

Edition  1st

Extent   242

ISBN      9781350114609

Imprint Bloomsbury Academic

Illustrations        12 bw illus

Dimensions        234 x 156 mm

Publisher             Bloomsbury Publishing