Professor Andrew Wachtel, recently appointed President of the American University of Central Asia, on leave from his professorial post at Northwestern University in Chicago, delivered a well received keynote lecture at CITSEE’s June 2010 conference on Theories and Practices of Citizenship in the New Balkan States. His lecture has now been published as a CITSEE Working Paper under the title ‘Citizenship and Belonging: Literary Themes and Variations from Yugoslavia’.
Andrew is a distinguished scholar of slavic (literary) studies, whose books include The Balkans in World History (2008, OUP) and Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia (1998, Stanford University Press). He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the CITSEE project.
The paper takes a historical and literary approach to emergent conceptions of citizenship, which contrasts with the political and legal approaches which predominate amongst the members of the CITSEE team. Andrew argues that works of literature can be effective tools for understanding the ways in which individuals understand different concepts of citizenship. The paper analyses four leading works of literature from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which with ideas of belonging across time and space. The analysis reveals a dynamic relationship between changing ideas of citizenship and the attitudes of characters, and shows that authors use the depiction of various attitudes to citizenship to explicate their own views on the proper relationship of the individual to the state. We are delighted to welcome this first “guest” contribution to the CITSEE Working Paper Series and look forward to further similar contributions, from a variety of (inter)disciplinary perspectives in the future.