The Three Yugoslavias: The Dual Challenge of State-Building and Legitimation among the Yugoslavs, 1918–20

Led by Sabrina P. Ramet
Jan 2003 - Dec 2006

This book project entitled The Three Yugoslavias is a thematic history of the Yugoslav peoples, tracing their history from 1918 to the present, emphasizing the theme of state-building and legitimation. Based on archival research at the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb and at the National Archives II outside Washington D.C., on interviews with appropriate persons in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and Macedonia, and on an extensive reading of memoir literature, the local press, and secondary literature, the monograph has been eight years in preparation.

Prior to submitting the manuscript to an academic press, author and CSCW Working Group member Sabrina Ramet convened a select group of Balkan historians and political analysts and scholars of civil conflict for a one-day symposium in January 2004 in Oslo. In a chapter-by-chapter discussion of the book, participants offered focused suggestions and critique.

The Three Yugoslavias breaks with conventional histories of the interwar period in documenting the activity of paramilitary groups during that era (a point generally ignored in English-language literature) and thereby revealing the fact that the kingdom did not rest on a foundation of rule of law. Its coverage of what happened during World War Two in all parts of occupied Yugoslavia is the most extensive to date. It offers new insights into the turbulent post-war period, 1945–62. It details the sources of the breakdown of socialist Yugoslavia and documents the way in which Milosevic and his people planned and executed their land-grab. And it reveals the heterogeneity of opinion on all sides during the War of Yugoslav Succession, recounting the separate paths taken by the now independent republics since the breakup of socialist Yugoslavia.

Running throughout the book is the theme that legitimate systems tend, all else being equal, to last longer and perform more effectively than illegitimate systems.

The book was published in 2006.

In addition to support from the Centre for the Study of Civil War at PRIO, this project has received funding from the Fulbright-Hayes Program, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), the University of Washington–University of Ljubljana faculty exchange program and the Slavic Research Centre at Hokkaido University.


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