The Self-Colonizing Metaphor Alexander Kiossev

The concept of self-colonizing can be used for cultures having succumbed to the cultural power of Europe and the west without having been invaded and turned into colonies in actual fact. Historical circumstances transformed them into an extracolonial “periphery,” lateral viewers who have not been directly affected either by important colonial conflicts or by the techniques of colonial rule.1 The same circumstances however put them in a situation where they had to recognize self-evidently foreign cultural supremacy and voluntarily absorb the basic values and categories of colonial Europe. The result might be named “hegemony without domination.”2

As it all took place beyond colonial realities—military occupation, political dominance, administrative rule, and economic exploitation—social imagination had a key role to play throughout the process.

“Social imagination” usually implies a background intuitive knowledge, a body of stereotypes shared by a community: for Charles Taylor it is a widely shared pre-theoretical reservoir of shared perceptions, both descriptive and prescriptive;3 Cornelius Castoriadis equates it with the symbolic dimension of communal life—a universal mediator penetrating each social atom.4 Supported and reproduced by everyone, such commonly shared notions encourage individuals in imagining participations in communities and processes beyond the limited horizon of their immediate experience whereas primary groups are stimulated to perceive themselves as being a part of larger and sometimes unfathomable societies—nations, races, classes, historic periods, and even “humankind” acting upon “the world stage” and producing “world history.”

Within the mature modern age it is precisely the colonial processes that form the collective imagination: the asymmetry between the European métropoles and the colonized rest of the world underlines the common oeuvre of shared knowledge, ideological representations and popular myths. Its purpose was to explain and justify European expansion from the 16th up until mid-20th century, which is why these perceptions ranked peoples and geographic spaces as “superior” and “inferior,” delineated them not only geographically but in terms of value into “Western,” “Eastern,” and “Southern,” defined them as “big” and “small,” historic and nonhistoric. Under the pressure of colonial globalization the collective imagination put together something like a visible world stage where each nation and each part of the world had its own hierarchical place, stereotypical image, and a kind of “civilizational rating”5 while colonizers and colonized contributed unevenly to the making of history as a “collective singular”6—i.e., a universal world history. The hidden hierarchies in its “universality” and the Eurocentric structure of the “world stage” predetermined the roles that were assumed: which nation or group stood where, what their degree of visibility was, from what position of power they spoke or remained silent, acted or failed to act, whether they were our own or alien, whether they belonged to the leading cast of characters (i.e., the human world, the great historic nations) or whether they were just extras or a detail of the setting, whether they were recognized as “political” and “universal” or not.7 The historic dynamics of colonial relations underlined the controversial changes in this repertoire: having inherited medieval mythological images of the monsters inhabiting “the edge of the world” (the dog-headed ones, the coprophagics, the Amazons, the noseless ones, those with their faces on their breasts and many others),8 its evolution was guided onward by images of the “heavenly innocent” natives described by Columbus in his diaries, by the 16th‑century arguments among Catholic theologians in Salamanca on whether the Indians were human beings or not,9 went through the theories of natural slavery and submission of the colonized,10 through the concept of Europe’s Christian duty toward barbarians, pagans, and “man-eaters,” through the monstrous, normalizing or idealized profiling of the native epitomized by Shakespeare’s Caliban, Defoe’s Friday, and “the noble savage” of Rousseau. In the 17th, 18th, and especially the 19th centuries, European popular culture saw a boom of exotic, adventurist, sexual, and heroic images of the “virgin” lands, paradisiacal places, the happy south seas or the “golden” colonies among which emerged the erotic mysticism of the orient filled with harems and “mysteries,” of mystical India or of Africa, the opaque “Dark Continent.” After Napoleon, the corpus of colony-related fantasies was supplemented by a corpus of real, detailed, and profound knowledge, yet it was produced from a colonial, asymmetrical perspective­—i.e., the imagination went under the control and restriction of power-knowledge.11 Since the middle of the 19th century, amid the formation of nations, the large European colonial empires believed they had a new duty: to spread progress and modernity, freedom from Asiatic tyranny, self determination, and human rights among the backward ones. This duty fitted well into the practices of asymmetrical evolutionism, administrative social engineering, progressivist technological arrogance, racism, and social Darwinism.

While colonized peoples could perceive Europe precisely as invader and colonial master (and therefore identify it with the enemy, which gave them an opportunity for resistance), the communities circumvented by colonial occupation had another vantage point and a different perception. They were not entirely excluded from colonial processes as they were exposed to the same ideas, ideologies, and stereotypes: the colonial imagination spread its power far beyond the physical colonial boundaries. In a number of ways, this imagination became global and without alternative as early as in the 18th and 19th centuries.12

“Lateral” communities were dragged onto the world scene where—following the Eurocentric model!—they no longer wished to stay lateral: they needed visibility and recognition13 of their “civilization,” ownership of history and freedom; as a matter of fact, in this desire they had already interiorized the concepts, values, and symbolic hierarchies of the colonizers. The sociological mechanism of this process is rather straightforward: the local elites were educated in crossborder universities; once they found themselves back home they took up roles as educators, revolutionaries, writers, journalists, tutors, and started disseminating a Europe-centered colonial conceptual repertoire. And they did this without violence or colonial “governmentality,” through softer channels that had leverage for captivating the imagination—stories, books, school classes, and textbooks, popular literature, political propaganda, and journalism. These early patriots without nations, self-styled national utopians and visionaries, introduced the notion of the “sovereign nation” and invented, by dint of studied models, local “historical traditions.” Armed with these symbolic weapons they turned to various groups and strata envisioning them as a unified “imaginary community” (with horizontal solidarity among its members, synchronized coexistence in everyday time,14 and in a joint historical march toward the future15). their powerful pro-European and modernizing rhetoric sculptured the imagination of their most zealous acolytes—students, youths, young intellectuals, new generations whose destiny it was to become the further builders of the new nation state and its homogenizing institutions.

traditionally named “Europeanization” and “modernization,” this process had its dark side as well. Along with the values of Christianity, civilization, the enlightenment, along with the placards for progress, liberty, and revolution, the Europe-centered colonial asymmetries were irreversibly cemented into the collective imagination of such groups. The notions of a European center and peripheries, of “masters” and “natural subjects,” of a civilization source and its passive recipients, became part of the “common cultural currency”16 and the public imagination of the new nations. Steered by cultural necessity, once up on “the world stage” the new peripheral imaginary communities thought of themselves within the inevitable cultural asymmetry vis-à-vis the Big Other, Europe’s colonial center.

This decentered them at the moment of their emergence: they perceived their national existence as “a culture of absences”17 or “a culture of backwardness.”18 From their vantage point, with their standard poised in an idealized Europe, their surroundings lacked just … everything in these incipient years: material and technical progress, political and intellectual figures, freedom and independence, philosophy, science, and arts of European quality and magnitude, social life and glamour, manners and style—i.e., the whole overseas civilization model was absent. The poignancy of the absences was coupled with a striving for filling in, catching up, enlightenment,19 civilizing, for all that was typically dubbed “the way toward Europe.” Local elites were driven to turn themselves and their compatriots into modern people—i.e., Europeans; they were pining to be liberated, sovereign, and civilized, just “like the progressive nations,” to become part of “enlightened humankind,” to be in the camp of those “who made history.” This rendered the politics of import of models and institutions; of “filling in” or “catching up” an incessant and doomed alignment/competition with the colonial center, a never-ending pursuit of recognition by the center. And this triggered paradoxes.

The first of these paradoxes is related to the specific structural place the west (or Europe) occupied in the “self-colonizing” imagination. Since the “laterality” of these marginal societies was only relative, their elites typically shared rather concrete and wide-ranging practical relations (and conflicts) with various European markets, institutions, agents, technologies, commodities, merchants, etc. this allowed them to have quite sober assessments and criticisms toward the west, which sometimes might even come to the extremes of civilizational mistrust or radical “Kulturkritik.” On the other hand, “Europe” played the role of the Big Other, a peremptory cultural authority indispensable in their self-identification. This triggered the perception of Europe through a double lens: it was both empirical and transempirical. the “self-colonizing” ones might just as well criticize “Europe,” yet their criticism could never reach the ravaging anticolonial bile of those colonized in real terms (for instance, like the one of Frantz Fanon20 leading to the brutal desire to radically deny, even “vomit” in a fit of loathing, all Western values and ideologies). Despite a more down-to-earth perception among the “self-colonized,” Europe in their imagination always retained a tinge of something beyond the empirical; a transcendent aura hovered above her “enlightened nations” and “civilization.” Since Europe was the “master signifier” in their symbolic and cultural order, a structure-defining constituent resembling an absent deity, it might not be rejected outright, just like an imperfect actual father might not revoke the authority Jacques Lacan termed “in-the-Name-of-the-Father,” as it guaranteed the symbolic order and underlying values.21 This was how Europe was both the subject of criticism and a civilizational superego: for the self‑colonizing imagination it was not only a primary character on the world scene, it was this scene itself, the recognition-granting gaze.22

Linked to the first paradox, the second was even more fundamental: the imagination’s self-colonization upturned the very symbolic order and economy of symbols by reverting the positions of “our own” and “the alien.” The dynamic of the constant signifying distinctions has been halted and ideologically “locked,” “quilted”23 into binary pairs aligned around a symbolic center, “Europe” played the role of ideological point de caption,24 a peculiar “zero point” in the reference system. And everything with European-alien origin became invariably a nonmarked member in this binary semantics; it became the natural vehicle of the positive, always neutral, and universal—whereas “our own” was always perceived as external and distanced to this neutral point. The implication was that the “our own” fundamentally lacked universality and self sufficiency; the collective imagination adsorbed it through the filters of the absent, defective, hybrid, substandard, branded as “civilization misunderstood,” it was “European but not quite.” This was what made the self-colonizing imagination self-traumatizing, too.

It is important to emphasize again that the colonial imagination did not captivate some already existing, stable, eternal or primordial cultures. Self-colonization took place at a point where the small and marginal nations sprang forth; it was entwined with the act of imagining their “imagined community.” Hence the image of Europe was not associated with actual aggression; it was not coupled with military violence, economic exploitation or administrative duress, all of which went hand in hand with real-time colonization. As it coincided with the birth of a nation, it was carried out voluntarily or even in a surge of patriotic zeal shared by elite and population alike. The metaphor “self-colonization” has “self” in it—not because some already existing nations colonized them—but because their own “Selves”; i.e., cultural identities emerged as a spin-off in the process of Euro-colonial hegemony, in an asymmetrical symbolic exchange with the colonial center. Besides, the performative aspect of such identities is of the essence: such nations emerged amid their own attempt to position themselves on the world stage of recognition. In this attempt they took up or created a set of categories, codes, and patterns whereby they could deliberate their own: the “universal” categories as enlightenment, freedom, democracy, state, independence, sovereignty, universality, and even the notions of “specifics,” “authenticity,” and “our own,” in the national meaning of the latter. Yet, the large dichotomies of “civilization/barbarity,” “progress/backwardness,” “great/small” or “historic/nonhistoric” nations resulting in a “congenital” self-trauma, were also created in the very same process.

And here we come to another important specific in the self-colonization process: the small and lateral nations sought recognition but from the perspective of Europe itself, whose colonial imagination was busy with other issues, this recognition stood a slim chance of being granted. The essential and formative conflict engulfing the colonizers was the one with the colonies rather than with the smaller, poorer, and sidetracked nations. Europe of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, torn by religious wars, feudal borders, naval, and colonial competition, and later on by warring nationalisms and rival imperial hubris, was in pursuit of its own identity. In a historic perspective, these centuries saw a whole sequence of utopian or realistic projects for European unity and cultural identity, all of which failed—from Novalis and Chateaubriand all the way to Edmund Husserl and Klaus Mann.25 By dint of structural necessity, all of them implied a radical Other, an obvious demarcation of the European realm, that had to be sought far away. Throughout various historic periods this Otherness was sought now in the invading ottoman Empire, now in the New World and the colonies, now in the “savages” and “barbarians,” now in the orient or in the “altogether alien” civilizations and “primitive cultures.” Distant and exotic, the fantasies of European colonial imagination did not pray on the small, lateral or peripheral: it regarded them as “seminations” (this is probably most conspicuously expressed by the disdainful German term Kleinstaterei). They were found lacking in terms of size,26 and of wealth, sidestepped by major colonial routes, insufficiently different or distant in cultural terms, failing to offer exotic benefits, adventures or forbidden pleasures—i.e., disappointing in their fascination or eroticism as a whole. Precisely lateral and marginal. That is why the cultural perception of this uncivilized, unworthy of the effort semiwild periphery appeared so fuzzy and unfocused, suffering from farsightedness (Karl May’s metaphor in der Schluchten des Balkans [“in the depths of the Balkan wilderness”] is probably a good example). The structure of the Scene-Narrative denied them the same distinctive otherness as was reserved for the real colonies, and therefore relegated them to the ambivalent, shameful, and comic internal other27 who was best forgotten or shoved into the realm of the comically embarrassing. Hence, they were processed within the modes of neglect, half-knowledge,28 outsourced to the lightweight journalistic or travel-writing genres, hearsay, anecdotes featuring the uncivilized, the parodical trivializing distance (the archetype in this kind of perception is the figure of the trickster, a character of comical narratives, committing shamefully hilarious mediations between nature and culture).

This leads to another paradox. While the self-colonizing nations imported ideas, patterns and stereotypes for adoption, along with them they imported something else as well: the abovementioned European vague, murky, and parodical images of themselves. Furthermore, they were compelled to internalize these embarrassing images precisely as they were coming from their source of recognition and were charged with its authority. All this fostered a controversial nation-building process: one that borrowed models hand in hand with resistance against the models. Such borrowings were meant to “Europeanize” yet at the same time they stood in the way of actual cultural emancipation as they never failed to recycle the secondary, submissive, and opaque role of small peripheral nations on the world scene, thus failing to acknowledge their sovereignty, authenticity, and autonomy.

The root searching (“pochvenichestvo,” “native soil” in east-Slavic terminology) discourse in self-colonizing cultures came about as a tool of this halfhearted resistance. A reaction against the adoration of the west, against the denied recognition and the borrowed self-deprecating profiling, it accompanied the emergence of the nation in the form of a compensatory autochtonous ideology providing a natural hotbed for local strident nationalisms. this discourse would attempt to upturn the “center—periphery” correlation and restore to “our own” its constituting semantic and ideological function. Therefore it applied itself to the task of representing “our own” as the oldest, the most authentic, and powerful civilization. It churned out vitriolic and conspiracy theories aimed back at the paragon. This onslaught was however much less daring than colonial resistance. It fostered a cult for the local complete with mythical and antique origin fantasies; in its institutionalized aspect it committed itself to national historiography and philology, to ethnography, archaeology, folklore studies, to the sanctifying of idyllic organic communities and to root-seeking. Yet the secondary and dependent nature of the “soil” ideology manifested itself in its preoccupation with providing counter-arguments to Europe, as it carried the latter within itself and could not do without it as an opponent.


In the context of self-colonization, there is an especially fascinating interaction between the “high” official and public culture and the local anthropological culture, everyday life, and communication.29 In self-colonization communities, the former as a reservoir of borrowed and idealized Western patterns was in a constant clash with day-to-day practices and the previously existing institutional background. It viewed the latter as “non-European,” barbaric, and Oriental, a culture of absent standards where the locals were only able to scrape off the European surface brainless fashion trends, superfluous knockoffs, “monkeying,” “civilization misunderstood.” on their part, lacking the pressure of real colonial “governmentality” (i.e., the administrative and scientific imposition of discipline and “normalization” of local existence to be carried out by the colonizer), local daily routines retained their strength, vitality, and recalcitrance. They were busy contesting “the high paragons” as the contrivance of a handful of “West-mongers” and day-dreamers as well as setting up their own channels of Europeanization running far off those of the enlightened elites.

Therefore, the interaction between high and popular culture could be summarized as a stream of indignant criticisms alleging shortage of civilization from the top, on the one hand, and on the other, a torrent of irony, adaptations, adjustments, travesties, special uses, substitutions, and hybrids from the bottom designed to evade or undermine the top. The masses, engrossed in their traditional way of living (with its own channels, agents, and pace of modernizing and Europeanizing), never went the whole way in recognizing their “Europeid” elites with their modernizing projects and civilizing claims. The elites suffered the paradox of an inherent illegitimacy as being locally born, not “truly European”; on their part, they decried the “inferior human material” of the masses.

The import of institutions takes a special form amid this perennial bickering between high and popular culture. Similar to the situation in the real colonies, the institutions in the self-colonizing cultures were not created in a process of “habitualization”—i.e., incremental maturing and adaptation turning them into unquestionable and long-lasting, habitual practices.30 They were imposed by sweeping modernizing gestures of the elites who scraped them together and legitimized them in a broadly Westernizing—and very often eclectic and inherently controversial—manner. In this process there always remained a whole lot of things impossible to import—the practical know how, the habits, and routines, the well-established ethos, the roles and rules in the everyday performance of an institution. As a result, the institutions were too often accommodated, used in unexpected ways for unforeseen ends, in line with bricolage patterns—i.e., they are hybridized. This in turn provided a special role for the public sphere: it had to live up to certain standards amid public outcry, vitriolic criticisms, and blazing philippics. Public institutions often found themselves under so much and so blatant pressure as to push them to the brink of loosing their credibility altogether, to make them poignantly visible rather than self-evident. Networks of the premodern, postmodern, and even global kind were functioning underneath, alongside, within, and through them, based on kinship, clanship or friendship solidarity, which sometimes branched out into the diaspora. Behind the official publicity, these networks as quasi-modern communities established another realm—of what anthropologists call “cultural intimacy”31—the hidden solidarity of those who systematically exploited both national values and European civilization standards to their own ends. And they did it selfishly, in an opportunistic and hybrid way, thus shaping a resilient image of “our own,” which was both self-ironic and hostile toward others.


We shall stop here in this rather sketchy and partial description of self-colonizing cultures. In conclusion, I should waive any claim to detailed historic research as such research should spread over many more pages. Its only claim is to create a possible perspective, an ideal model providing a somewhat different viewpoint on processes like nation-building and colonialism. The “self-colonization” and “self-colonizing social imagination” metaphors have taken the role of an ideal type and only have a heuristic goal: to undermine the traditional dichotomy in describing colonial developments—e.g., the simplistic opposition between colonizers and colonized. And to show that there is a whole range of various subspecies in-between them: internal colonialisms, crypto-nationalisms,32 interiorized colonial hegemonies without domination, etc.

It should still be acknowledged that even as an ideal type these metaphors only have a restricted historic validity—they could tell us something about developments taking place in the course of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. In the aftermath of World War II and the decolonization processes, the self-colonizing situation underwent a substantial change. The repertoire of world imagination was in a certain sense “globalized” and “mediatized” through the new technologies:33 the legacies of the self-colonizing cultures broke loose of their territorial agents to be taken up by the media, they became “portable” and individually usable, got included in various mélanges and creolized,34 were deployed in pursuit of various political ends, and built into nonterritorial nationalisms of a new kind. All these are issues worthy of special studies beyond what could be done here.


1 / Even though actual historic colonization is multiple and variable, at the level of ideal types a few primary features might be outlined in each colonial process: it comprises simultaneous military occupation, settling, establishing control over the locals, administrative rule over heterogeneous populations against the backdrop of ethnic and/or cultural differences between rulers and ruled, and the establishment of a cultural hegemony.

2 / A situation, which is apparently the reverse to the one described by Ranajit Guha, Dominance without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1998.

3 / Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries, Duke University Press, Durham and London 2004.

4 / Cornelius Castoriadis, The Imaginary Institution of Society, The MIT Press, Cambridge 1998, 1987, 1975.

5 / This is what Charles Taylor has to say in this respect: “This (collective) identity is vulnerable of nonrecognition, at first on the part of the members of the dominant society, but later there has developed a public scene, on which people see themselves as standing, on which they see themselves as rated, on which rating matters to them This world scene is dominated of relatively advance, even to the point of having to discover periodic neologisms in order to euphemize the distinction … backward, underdeveloped, developing … The backdrop of modern nationalism, that there is something to be caught with, each society in its own way, is inscribed in this common language, which in turn, animates the world public sphere.” Charles Taylor, “Nationalism and Modernity,” The Morality of Nationalism, ed. R. McKim, J. McMahan, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1997, p. 38–50.

6 / On how the universal history notion is formed, see Reinhart Koselleck, “Historia Magistra Vitae: The Dissolution of the Topos into the Perspective of a Modernized Historical Process,” Future Past, On the Semantics of Historical Time, The MIT Press, Cambridge and London 1985, p. 29.

7 / See Alexander Kiossev, “Grand Naratives and Imagined Communication: Literature and the Symbolic Patterns of Emancipation,” Neohelicon: Acta Comparationis Literaturarum Universarum XXXI 2, Kiado, Budapest and Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Boston, London 2004) and Alexander Kiossev, “Behind the Stage,” Mythistory and Narratives of the Nation in the Balkans, ed. Tatjana Aleksic, Cambridge Scholars Publishers, Cambridge 2008.

8 / “‘Rohe Barbaren’ oder ‘edle Wilde’? Der europäische Blick auf die ander Welt,” exh. cat., Institut für angewandte Kulturforschung, Göttingen 1991.

9 / See Tzvetan Todorov, The Conquest of America, Harper Perennial, New York 1992.

10 / Anthony Pagden, The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology, Cambridge University Press, London and New York 1982, 1986.

11 / This is Saïd’s topic: see Edward W. Saïd, Orientalism, Vintage Books, New York 1979 and Edward W. Saïd, Culture and Imperialism, Vintage, London 1994.

12 / On this issue, Frederick Cooper, wrote: “Following Magellan’s journey around the world the overseas empires presented space for imagination that was global yet on the other hand it was the field of real authority, which was restricted and subtle.” Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question, University of California Press, Berkley 2005, p. 166.

13 / On the issue of the essential role of recognition in constituting an identity see Charles Taylor, “The Politics of Recognition,” Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition, ed. Amy Gutmann, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1994; Tzvetan Todorov, Abenteuer des Zusammenlebens. Versuch einer Allgemeinen Anhtropologie, Wagenbach, Berlin 1995; Axel Honneth, Kampf um Anerkennung. Zur moralischer Grammatik sozialer Konflikte, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main 1994; Nancy Fraser, “From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in ‘Postsocialist’ Age,” Theorizing Multiculturalism, ed. Cynthia Willett, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford 1998, p. 19.

14 / Benedict Anderson, The Imagined Communities, Verso, London 1983, 1991.

15 / See Timmothy Brennan, “The National Longing for Form,” Nation and Narration, ed. Homi K. Bhabha, Routledge, London and New York 1990.

16 / Ernst Gellner, Nations and Nationalisms, Cornell University Press, Ithaca 1983.

17 / See Alexander Kiossev, “The Self-Colonising Cultures,” Cultural Aspects of the Modernisation Process, Oslo (1995). Reprinted in Bulgaria avangarda, Salon Verlag, Kraeftemessen II, Sofia—Cologne 1998, reprinted in After the Wall: Art and Culture in Post-Communist Europe, Modern Museum, Stockholm 1999; Alexander Kiossev, “List of the Missing,” National Heritage, National Canon, ed. Mihaly Szegedy Maszak, Collegium Budapest Working Series 11, Budapest 2001; Antonis Liakos, “The Canon of European Identity: Transmission and Decomposition,” working papers of the European University Institute, Florence 1998; Antonis Liakos (ed.), The European Canon, Leipziger Universitätsverlag—Akademische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2007; Antonis Liakos, “On Negative Consciousness,” Griechische Kultur in Südosteuropa in der Neuzei: Beiträge zum Symposium in memoriam Gunnar Hering, ed. Maria A. Stassinopoulou, Ioannis Zelepos, Vienna (December 16–18, 2004).

18 / See Maria Todorov, Slavic Review 64/1 (Spring 2005), p. 140–164 as well as Akhil Gupta, “Rethinking the Temporalities of Nationalism in the Era of Liberalization,” a paper for the seminar at the National Center for Humanitarian Science, April 2001, quoted by Todorova.

19 / This is a specific type of enlightenment—Kant’s “Dare to think!” and Goethe’s “Werde wer du bist!” were displaced by another imperative, “Be like the rest in order to be yourself!”

20 / Frantz Fanon, “On National Culture,” The Wretched of the Earth, Penguin, Harmondsworth 1967, p. 167–189.

21 / Jacques Lacan, Ecrits, A Selection, Tavistock and Routledge, London 1989. See Anika Lemaire, Jacques Lacan, P. Mardaga, Brussel 1977.

22 / Alexander Kiossev, “Gaze and Acknowledgment,” Eurozine (2006),

23 / Slavoj Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, Verso, London 1989, p. 88–89.

24 / Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, p. 88–89.

25 / Paul Michael Lützeller, Die Schriftsteller un Europa. Von der Romantik bis zur Gegenwart, Piper, Munich and Zurich 1992.

26 / If we refer to Eric Hobsbawm, for the mid-19th‑century liberal ideology it was somehow self-evident that only sizable peoples constituted “nations” in the true sense of the word. Hobsbawm quoted John Stuart Mill: “the multiple population and the large rich in natural endowments territory are an essential requirement for normal nationhood. A nation, which is restricted in terms of population and territory even possessing its own language, may only bring forth a crippled literature and only possess distorted institutions to support arts and science. A small state may never have the various branches of a complete education on its territory.” For the liberal ideologues terms like “statelets” (Kleinstaterei) and “Balkanization” may only have a negative tinge (Eric Hobsbawm, Nationen und Nationalismen, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt and New York 1991, p. 43–44).

27 / See Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans, Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York 1997, p. 17.

28 / Unlike the real administrative colonialism, such an attitude toward the “periphery” is seldom marked by what Foucault called power knowledge. Colonial powers have no need to elaborate detailed knowledge for countries of this kind (with the exception of ancient Egypt and ancient Greece perceived as “the cradles of Europe” and as such having become, since the mid-18th century, the subject of vast Western academic culture). Hence, they were relegated to popular mythologies, to literature and journalists, to hearsay and legends, so to speak, to the power of ignorance. This allows for instance Voltaire to use the name “Bulgarians” in his Candide as an arbitrary allegory or as the name of any mythical tribe.

29 / I have tried to investigate this relationship in my article, “The Dark Intimacy” as well as in The Balkans as a Metaphor, The MIT Press, Cambridge 2003.

30 / On the emergence of institutions, see Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman, “The Social Construction Of Reality: A Treatise,” The Sociology Of Knowledge, Irvington Publishers, New York 1966 and 1980); Mary Douglas, How Institutions Think, Syracuse University Press, New York 1986.

31 / Michael Herzfeld, Cultural Intimacy, Social Poetics in the Nation State, Routledge, New York 2005.

32 / Michael Herzfeld, “The Absent Present: Discourse on Crypto-Colonialism,” The South Atlantic Quarterly 1001/1 (2002), p. 899–926.

33 / Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimension of Globalization, University of Minessota Press, Minneapolis and London 1996.

34 / “Global Culture,” Globalization: The Reader, ed. John Beynon and David Dunkerley: The Athlone Press, London 2000.