Text topic: Culture in Transition
Text author: Лидија Цветић
What underlies the controversy of the cultural identity of Serbia which has been in transition for over two centuries? I have looked for answers in the unstable, hybrid and dynamic concept of the Balkan identity. The Balkans, as a specific ethnic and culturological mix, as a place where noble barbarogeniuses meet with barbarianism, the European Orient, the melting pot of traditions and global trends, is a specific platform from which we have observed construction of presentation and mixing of our attitude to the national identity with the attitude to the culture in general. Analogy between the 19th century process of modernization and Serbia today is obvious, both in the steps for building cultural and national identity and in the latest consequences of the poor social transformations. The transition from a traditional to a modern society, modeled after West European paragons, has always neglected at least one of the key integrating factors. Hence the uncoordinated social and cultural policies and poorly directed social emancipation in general have led to ignorance of or misinterpretation of own culture, tradition and models, causing long term incompetence for preservation of cultural (as well as political) independence in these regions. This text poses some questions related to the deficit of modernity and the cultural imperialism that has remained in the Balkans as a consequence of colonial dominance. The marriage of the politics and the esthetics is analyzed on the example of visual representation of national identity, through portraits of the ruler – Knez Miloš Obrenović – a clear indication of the attempt at developing a cultural strategy and defining a unique national cultural model. Equating the notion of national identity with political mentality has shown that passive traditional mentality (static and non-communicative) is an obstacle to forming a modern cultural identity which is innovative and capable of forming its own perception of politics. The political transformation of the system, which legged behind overall social transformation, has brought about an unsustainable cultural policy (which should be a foundation for the modernization of state) as well as maintenance of the status quo attitude to the dominant centre. This is why mere erasure of the colonist identity models and acceptance of new models were not sufficient to establish own national and cultural identity. The never-ending process of modernization has caused permanent indefiniteness of the modern cultural policy, since in the unstable period of transition we still choose between traditionalism and global culture, all the while additionally emphasizing the differences and controversies without creating a field of free cultural fluctuation. Returning to the Balkans as a cultural paradigm of Serbia, the cultural policy of today should communicate with the visible wealth of diversity without contradicting either tradition or transition, in order to avoid the inferiority in recognition of or indifference for production, presentation and preservation of its own cultural riches.