The Home is Where…: The Chronotopes of the Origin Myth in Pseudohistorical Narratives of the Serbian Far-Right

Igor Išpanović


Contemporary right-wing actors in Serbia are exploiting social media logic in order to disseminate a particular pseudohistorical, populist “us” against “them” reconfiguration of the nation’s past. Its mythmaking foundations – e.g., the contentious question of ‘who was here first’ – are traceable and reminiscent of the dominant separatist narratives emerging from ethnic tensions in ex-Yugoslavia, which manifested in one of the most frightening conflicts on European soil after World War II. The online content of these pseudohistorians has gained hundreds of thousands of views on different platforms, especially YouTube, with channels like Srbija Global, HelmCast, and BALKAN INFO rapidly earning a dedicated fanbase. Despite the extensive literature on the discursive strategies of the far-right in the construction of collective memory and national identity in post-socialist countries, little has been done in applying the narrative approach to the analysis of populists’ storytelling practices in regard to the present sociopolitical moment. The aim of this article is to uncover the nationalist underpinnings behind the symbolic geo-political spaces and proposed alternative historical timelines of the Balkans. I rely on Bakhtin’s concept of chronotope, which posits the influence of time-space conjuncture on identity, to follow the plurality of cultural and mythical narrative threads woven into the national fabric. Drawing inspiration from a rich storytelling heritage, the historical revisionism of the Serbian far-right borrows elements from the classical Ulyssean motif of “a home long lost” and the biblical tragic character arc of “a banished Jewish tribe”. This intruder syndrome is formed in an anxiety-filled vacuum between the crisis-driven present and the glorified past. This is why I also utilise Bakhtin’s concept of dialogue and Boym’s understanding of nostalgia as historical emotion to reveal the ideological connectedness between the opposing historical topographies. The findings indicate that the discursive practice of “homeland making” serves as a compensation for the dissolution of a supposedly ethnically homogenous and culturally related entities – Republic of Srpska, Montenegro and Kosovo, territories perceived as national and spiritual cradles of Serbia. Moreover, the sentiment of the greater European irrelevance emphasizes the need for enhancing the national self-perception, and the reimagined, ancient past provides the hearth around which political emotions are ignited.


chronotope; pseudohistory; national identity; Serbia; origin myth; narrative

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Copyright (c) 2022 Igor Išpanović

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ISSN 2398-0532

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