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Geographical Narration of Interwar Yugoslavia

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Serbian, Croatian, and Slovenian Perspective, 1918 to the mid-1920s

The article examines the involvement of Yugoslav geographers in the multifaceted process of constructing the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes between the final stage of the First World War and the mid-1920s, when Yugoslavia’s external boundaries and internal arrangement were temporarily settled. Researchers have recognized Jovan Cvijić as the leading scientist behind the political-geographical legitimation of the newly created Yugoslav state. This article, however, examines the role of two hitherto neglected Yugoslav geographers—the Slovene Anton Melik and the Croat Filip Lukas—in the process of constructing the Yugoslav national space. This process, in fact, only intensified after the 1918 publication of Cvijić’s seminal work La Péninsule balkanique. Whereas Cvijić aimed at an international readership, the construction of Yugoslav national space by Croat and Slovene geographers was primarily a domestic enterprise; these were geographies of Yugoslavia by Yugoslav geographers, narrating Yugoslavia to Yugoslav readership. For a period, scholars from Ljubljana and Zagreb rather than Belgrade influenced the project of the geographical narration of Yugoslavia, and approached the pressing contemporary political issues in geographical works in a manner that revealed both connections and tensions between discourses of “center” and “periphery.”

Affiliations: 1: European University Institute, Florence, Italy,


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