THE VLACHS AND THE SERBIAN PRIMARY SCHOOL (1878-1914): AN EXAMPLE OF SERBIAN NATION-BUILDING

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Ksenija Kolerovic

Abstract

This dissertation explores the process of Serbian nation-building, focusing specifically on the interaction between the Vlach ethno-cultural communities and the nationalising primary education imposed on them by Serbian authorities in the period 1878-1914. By doing so, the thesis aims to contribute to the reversal of the trend in the scholarship on the use of education in the nation-building of nineteenth-century European nations, which has so far predominantly adopted a 'top-down' perspective. Namely, instead of focusing on the main educational policies as conceived by the Serbian authorities for the ethnic Serbian population or at the national level, this thesis places the Vlach communities at the centre of the analysis by investigating how their very existence and their members' actions influenced the Serbian authorities' conception of the educational policies, on the one hand, and the course of the Serbian nation-building process, on the other.The work has been conceived as an interdisciplinary study combining a range of methodologies and approaches. In exploring the character and the ideological underpinnings of the nationalising character of the Serbian educational policies devised for the Vlachs, the study has relied on a combination of modernist and posmodernist definitions of nationalism and the post-colonial concept of the 'Other'. Namely, by examining the Serbian authorities' idea of their own nation, on the one hand, and their perception of the Vlach communities in relation to the Serbian nationalist project, on the other, the thesis explains, firstly, why the education of the Vlachs was conceived primarily as an assimilationist project and, secondly, what these education policies consisted of.The 'bottom-up' perspective adopted in this study has allowed the thesis to account for the Vlachs' reactions to primary schooling and its nationalising task by looking primarily at their resistance strategies. Conclusions are then drawn about the effects of the Vlach resistance acts on the Serbian nation-building project, the development of the Serbian educational system, and the extent to which these actions were the result of some form of Vlach identity awareness. By approaching the Vlachs as actors within the Serbian nation-building process, the study subscribes to the Subaltern Studies' methodology which assigns to the subaltern groups the quality of conscious agency.

Details

Original languageEnglish
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Award date1 Aug 2015