Vampire Nation: Violence as Cultural Imaginary
Tomislav Z. Longinović is Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of Vampires Like Us and Borderline Culture, as well as the novels Sama Amerika and Moment of Silence.
Vampire Nation is a nuanced analysis of the cultural and political rhetoric framing ‘the serbs’ as metaphorical vampires in the last decades of the twentieth century, as well as the cultural imaginaries and rhetorical mechanisms that inform nationalist discourses more broadly. Tomislav Z. Longinović points to the Gothic associations of violence, blood, and soil in the writings of many intellectuals and politicians during the 1990s, especially in portrayals by the U.S.-led Western media of ‘the serbs’ as a vampire nation, a bloodsucking parasite on the edge of European civilization.
Interpreting oral and written narratives and visual culture, Longinović traces the early modern invention of ‘the serbs’ and the category’s twentieth-century transformations. He describes the influence of Bram Stoker’s nineteenth-century novel Dracula on perceptions of the Balkan region and reflects on representations of hybrid identities and their violent destruction in the works of the region’s most prominent twentieth-century writers. Concluding on a hopeful note, Longinović considers efforts to imagine a new collective identity in non-nationalist terms. These endeavors include the emigrant Yugoslav writer David Albahari’s Canadian Trilogy and Cyber-Yugoslavia, a mock nation-state with “citizens” in more than thirty countries.
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