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1 Language and Race: Croats, Illyrians, Slavs and Aryans

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Chapter Summary

The first Croatian national movement, the Illyrian, equated race and nationality with language. According to the Illyrians, led by Ljudevit Gaj, the Croats possessed a unique Slavic spirit that was intimately tied to their language. Yugoslavist nationalism also rested on the concept of the Indo-European and/or Aryan race. The Croat pan-Slavists/Yugoslavists denied the distinct ethnocultural identity of the Croats because they had promoted the 'authenticity' of the South Slav nation and Slavic race, and 'to say that an ethnie lacks an authentic culture and ethno-history is to deny its claim to national recognition'. The Croat pan-Slavists and Yugoslavists had asserted the antiquity of Slavic-Croatian settlement and culture in the western Balkans in answer to the expansionist tendencies of the non-Slavic Hungarians, Italians and Austrian-Germans, but they did not develop a national idea of Croat authenticity in relation to the Slavic speaking Serbs and their assimilationist notion of a 'Greater Serbia'.

Keywords: Aryan race; Austrian-Germans; Croat pan-Slavists; Illyrians; Indo-European race; Ljudevit Gaj; non-Slavic Hungarians; Slavic speaking Serbs; western Balkans; Yugoslavists



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