Snežana Besermenji

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Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad.


Demographic Circumstances in Serbia: Exaltation and Resignation as two Extremes of the National Identity Crisis

One of the far-reaching consequences of Serbia's involvement in crucial global events and regional conflicts of the twentieth century was its demographic re-composition. The unstable geopolitical situation in the Balkans, which was intentional, drove the people living there into confronting situations, in which they had to act accordingly. The politics of the elite that ran the country (mis)used various models for dealing with its population– from traditionalism and sacrificing, through migration and colonization, to modernization and cosmopolitanism.  Each of these models has had its highs and lows. The extremes of these models testified more to senseless wanderings than to a responsible demographic policy. This resulted in an unenviable and almost irreversible demographic decline in Serbia.  Unlike today, in the early twentieth century the Serbian nation was considered as one of the youngest in the world, relative to its population size. In this paper we shall present numerous warnings of our contemporaries that the issue of preserving the population is far more important than short-sighted social ideas of the emotionally driven. Unfortunately, this attitude is usually interpreted as an unpatriotic act of dubious intentions. It often took very little time to go from exaltation to resignation. Events have shown that the identity often lacked stability. The irrational elements in creating the identity in Serbia has been and remained one of the greatest challenges of a responsible population policy.