Appropriation of past as a political weapon. Nationalist utilisation of the Kosovo Battle in ex-Yugoslav wars

Only one year after Francis Fukuyama euphorically proclaimed "the end of history", Micha Glenny declared its "rebirth" in Central and Eastern Europe and especially in the Balkans. Nationalist ideas which became very popular in that region at the end of the 1980's, ended in military conflicts and a breakup of the Yugoslav Federation.

It is impossible to explain the brutality of wars between the former neighbours without considering the decisive role that glorified conceptions of history played in mobilisation and radicalisation of wide masses. Although all parties involved in these conflicts used distorted perceptions of the past as powerful weapons to legitimate their own political goals, the article is focussed on the most momentous case: the appropriation of Serbia's defeat from the hands of Ottoman Empire at the battle of Kosovo Field from 1398.

Serbian nationalist politicians and intellectuals exploited the primarily epic narrative from the 18th and 19th century to present the current crisis as an essential step to the predestinated mission and destiny of the Serbian people. In doing so, historical facts have been reinterpreted and devised selectively for the purpose of the contemporary conflict. The article firstly presents the historical facts about the battle and its epic interpretation that developed in the following centuries. After that, it illustrates the appropriation of the narrative for political purposes in the 1980's and 1990's.

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