Whose Myth? Which Nation? The Serbian Kosovo Myth Revisited

Djokic, Dejan. 2009. Whose Myth? Which Nation? The Serbian Kosovo Myth Revisited. In: Janos M. Bak; Jörg Jarnut; Pierre Monnet and Bernd Schneidmueller, eds. Uses and Abuses of the Middle Ages: 19th-21st Century. 17 Munich: Wilhelm Fink, pp. 215-233. ISBN 978-3-7705-4701-2 [Book Section]

Kosovomyth2.pdf - Updated Version

Download (267kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

During the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s some authors sought to explain the Serbian-instigated violence by a nationalist mythology at the centre of which lies the myth of Kosovo. According to this argument, the genocide committed by Serbian forces was not caused by ‘the pathology of the individual organizing and committing the genocide, but the pathology of the ideas guiding them’. In this article, I argue that history of the Kosovo myth does not offer a straightforward narrative that links the Serbia of 1389 with events of the last two decades in former Yugoslavia. Myths, like nations, have their own history – history that is seldom linear and predetermined – and are an essential ingredient of nation-building. Just as it may be argued that the process of nation-building is never fully completed, so national myths evolve and gain new interpretations over time.

The analysis concentrates on the last two centuries, during which modern nationalist ideologies emerged and developed. In particular, I address the following three issues: a) the significance of the Kosovo myth during the emergence of modern Serbian national ideology in the nineteenth century; b) the Kosovo myth as a pan-Yugoslav myth; and c) the use of the Kosovo myth by the West.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:




Item ID:


Date Deposited:

19 Aug 2010 11:10

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:27



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)