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Songs, Myths, Identity and Territory: Serbian Kosovo Epic as “Invented Tradition“ (2015-2016)

Field of study: South East European Studies

This article offers critical re-examination of the recent scholarship on the so-called Kosovo myth. This popular oral and literary tradition surrounding the Battle of Kosovo that the Serbs fought against the Turks in 1389 traditionally occupied central space in Serbian national narrative. By revisiting the formation of the Kosovo epic in the collections of Vuk Karadžić, the founder of modern Serbian culture, I trace his role in making Kosovo the foundational myth of the whole Serbian nation from the nineteenth-century surge in Romantic nationalism
onwards. In particular, I scrutinize Karadžić’s editorial procedures as parts of a process of cultural inscription representing a cultural transformation that made the Kosovo epic an instance of the invention of national tradition in Eric Hobsbawm’s terms.

Keywords: the Kosovo epic, the Kosovo myth, Serbian oral tradition, Serbian nationalism, Vuk Karadžić

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