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U.S. and Western media depict the Yugoslav Civil War of the 1990s as one of the most horrific ethnic conflicts since the Holocaust. The Yugoslav Civil War developed while Yugoslavia was attempting to adjust to new definitions of state lines after the fall of Communism. The state of Yugoslavia had combined the former Hungarian province Croatia-Slavonia, former Austrian territories Slovenia and Dalmatia, former Austro-Hungarian Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as the independent states of Serbia and Montenegro, and had enfolded different ethnic populations including Serbs, Albanians, Croats, and Bosnians. While differences between ethnic communities were suppressed when Yugoslavia was a functioning state, after Communism the assertion of independence by disparate states and the subordination of various ethnic minorities encouraged rising tensions and violence. Presenting the war as the product of solely Serbian aggression, the Western media helped promote the problematic idea of a centuries-long ethnic hatred between Yugoslavia's uneasily conjoined peoples as the cause for the civil war's eruption. In this project, I suggest that Jovanka Bach's unpublished play Marko the Prince (2002), the final installment of her trio of plays about Serbia and its diaspora, entitled A Balkan Trilogy, reframes the conflict for a U.S. readership. My examination explores how various strategies of identity construction in Marko the Prince reflect larger operations of nationalist discourse through which the text reconstructs the nation by means of heroicizing its ideal(ized) representatives. As I argue, Marko the Prince's heroicization of Serbian nationalism reiterates how the construction of national identity is dependent upon by and for whom it is recreated, suggesting means through which dramatic texts can uncover ideological strategies. To redefine the tenets of Serbian nationalism, my investigation examines the invocation of myth, the creation of sympathetic masculine figures, and explores the conflation of the idealized woman with the Serbian motherland. Homi Bhabha, in his theory of "acts of enunciation," argues that in the moment when cultures meet, they are simultaneously defined and exposed as constructed. This thesis positions Marko the Prince's reconstruction of Serbian nationalism as an act of cultural enunciation by and for a U.S. audience in light of Bhabha's theory. By redefining Serbian nationalism as a "heroic" construction, rather than the "monstrous" entity represented by Western media, I argue that Marko the Prince provides its readers and audience with an alternate encounter with discourses of the Balkan world.
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