Between the Sceptre and the Key: National Identity and Architectural Heritage in Belgrade and Serbia, in the Nineteenth and the First Half of the Twentieth Century
Article (Published version)
MetadataShow full item record
The process of the formation of Serbian national identity is characterized by certain duality – the search for national authenticity and specificity coupled with the desire to find place in the family of European nations. This can be easily followed through architecture of the XIX and early XX century of Belgrade and Serbia: through the study of the attitude towards architectural heritage within the bounds of the discipline as well as through architectural practice. Insistence on finding, codifying and presenting ‘national tradition’ coupled with universalism and progress simultaneously complementing and annulling that tradition, is the main characteristic of the process of the identity construction in the discourses of Serbian architecture of the XIX and early XX century. The paper deals with the interpretation of architectural heritage as the content of Serbian national identity in the period under observation. As opposed to traditional historiographical presentation of architectura...l culture of modern Serbia and Belgrade, its capital, which, as a rule, entails the autonomy of architectural work as well as the existence of the ‘conflict’ of opposing building construction ideals (such as, for example, ‘romantic and classical ideal’, or ‘international and national styles’), architecture can be studied in the wider context of processes of national emancipation and identification in which such disciplinary classifications and categories can become entirely relative. Namely, architecture – both as a discipline and as practice – systematically took part in the formation of the outline of the nation through entirely different and apparently opposing ideas: on the one hand through fostering the discourse of national authenticity, on the other, supporting the need for the integration of Serbian identity into the civilization framework of Europe and the West. Rich architectural heritage of Belgrade and Serbia are fluent witnesses to the dual nature of the uniform process of the construction of the outline of modern Serbian nation. On the one side, there stood the compulsion concerning the historicization of the identity, on the other, there was a sustained presence of the need to become a part of the family of European nations as complementary, rather that opposing aspects of the same process.
Keywords:National identity / Architectural Heritage / Cultural Heritage / Architectural History / Urban History / History of Serbia / History of Yugoslavia / Europeanization / National Romanticism / Nationalism
Source:Heritage, 2008, 9, 47-68
- Belgrade : Cultural Heritage Preservation Institute of Belgrade