Geo-political complexities of governmentality and Balkanism: Deconstructing UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage discourses

Claudia Melis, Nicholas Wise, Jelena Đurkin Badurina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study critically discusses the entanglements between World Heritage and geo-politics. It deconstructs the geo-political gaze which, it is argued, characterises the articulation of the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) programme in the Republic of Croatia. The study of ICH specific to the case of Croatia is significant in political geography because it entails how cultural heritage is instrumentally used to promote nation-building while seeking to overcome past suppression of its culture. The article takes the Foucauldian concept of governmentality and Todorova's notion of Balkanism as epistemological frameworks. The aim is to understand what discourses are in play for Croatia as an independent nation to self-reflexively represent itself in the UNESCO international community and establish its geo-political positioning among other European nations through the transactional device of ICH. We argue that UNESCO acts as a supranational body which interacts with Croatia in the matter of ICH safeguarding. It therefore contributes to an emphasis on a governmentality discourse; at the same time, Balkanism can be regarded as a backdrop against which Croatia has constructed its own identity and legitimised its European aspirations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102578
JournalPolitical Geography
Volume95
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

Keywords

  • Balkanism
  • Croatia
  • Geo-political positioning
  • Governmentality
  • Intangible cultural heritage
  • World heritage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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