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Keywords:

  • [history;
  • invention of tradition;
  • monuments;
  • multiculturalism;
  • Balkans]

ABSTRACT

The “Balkan Tale” project includes an exhibit of photographs of Ottoman-era buildings, texts by historians from the region, and a documentary film on the Balkan wars of 1912–13. Installations include a “soundwalk” and an experience of Ottoman perfumes. Materials are available in English, Albanian, Greek, German, Serbian, Macedonian, and Turkish. The project premises that various peoples of the region lived peacefully together before the creation of nation-states and promotes a common history based on religious and ethnic coexistence. Yet such a proposition is as much an invention of a putative tradition as any nationalist history, ignoring relevant scholarship on the complexities of parallel and at times conflicting existences during Ottoman rule. The presentation echoes trendy anthropological theories on the fluidity of borders but neglects, or rejects, dominant concepts held by peoples in the region about themselves and each other, as well as scholarship that posits alternative conceptualizations of putative Ottoman proto-multiculturalism.