Mike Rossi


Actual Position

Michael Rossi » Dissertation

Content: Dissertation

“Resurrecting the Past: Democracy, National Identity, and Historical Memory in Modern Serbia.” Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. October 2009. (download)

Dissertation advisor: Eric M. Davis.

Readers: Jan Kubik, Myron Aronoff (Rutgers University), Nicolai Petro (University of Rhode Island).

Abstract: The increasing number of states transitioning from authoritarian rule over the last twenty years has prompted scholars to develop more robust definitions of democracy. Specifically, calls among social scientists for more dynamic models of democratic transition have included a need in identifying a particular “quality” of democracy that exceeds earlier models of procedural electoral regimes. However, even these deeper understandings of democracy that account for civic institutions, regime transparency, social justice, and the rule of law often fail to account for how states can develop a more robust democratic society. The divide between theories of “thick” democracy and the increasing number of illiberal democratic regimes that operate within a hybrid system of democratic and authoritarian practice has, I believe, encouraged greater research into a reexamination of the relationship between politics and culture. This study argues that a political movement, regardless of ideology or orientation, that roots itself within specific historical and cultural narratives of a community, enjoys greater degrees of social control and public acceptance. Conversely, a movement that ignores national symbols and historical narratives risks both political irrelevancy and social disengagement. Through an examination of historical documents, historical school textbooks, 2008 presidential and parliamentary election campaign material, personal interviews, and polling data collected from research institutions throughout Serbia and Europe, I argue that the legitimacy and saliency of either democracy or authoritarianism is dependent on how political elites shape their personal strategies and goals to be congruent with collective identity.


©Michael Rossi – http://michael-rossi.demokratio.info