Images and Meanings
This lecture considers the role of visuality in the formation of cultural identity. In the Balkans, visuality comprises aesthetic systems and related sets of visual references, drawn equally from ethnographic sources and the historical context, that are imagined to echo history and tradition and to have contributed to ethnic/national distinctiveness. Visuality is part of cultural identity as much as language and religion. The focus of the lecture will be on Serbia where inconsistencies in nation formation have produced, perhaps more than elsewhere in the region, divergent narratives and perceptions of cultural belonging. These shifts in Serbian identity were echoed in the changing aesthetics and cultural references and meanings associated with venerated monuments of the national heritage. The lecture will include a discussion of these changes using examples from Romantic historicism, socialist modernity and the Russian-inspired Byzantinism.