British perceptions of the Balkan Slavs: Professional and popular categorizations before 1914

Suonpaa, Mika Petteri

History
July 2008

Thesis or dissertation


Rights
© 2008 Mika Petteri Suonpaa. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to deepen our understanding about the ways in which the Balkan Slavs were perceived and represented in Britain between 1856 and 1914 by concentrating on religious, military, commercial and satirical discourses. These specific areas have not received enough detailed analysis in the existing secondary literature. This thesis has three aims: first, to investigate the ways and the extent to which British domestic and imperial concerns connected to and were explained through Balkan questions; second, to examine the effects of perceptions and prejudices on decision-making; and third, to analyze the levels of accuracy of perceptions and the concrete consequences of possible misconceptions. In terms of source material, previous studies have mostly relied on travel-writing and literature. This study widens the scope by examining a variety of textual and visual materials, ranging from diplomatic and military writing to religious treatises and cartoons. The main conclusions include that British domestic and imperial concerns coincided and were discussed through Balkan questions on a very concrete level, of which the Anglican-Orthodox reunion debate, the Bulgarian atrocities agitation campaign, issues related to domestic and imperial defence, social problems as well as representations of commercial potential of the Balkans, were among the most visible ones. The attention that the region attracted in Britain was also more nuanced than has been argued in the current literature. Preconceptions and prejudices had an effect on military and business decision-making more often than on religious positions which remained largely unaltered. In many cases, representations of the Balkans were at least partly accurate, although grave misunderstandings and misinterpretations also occurred. These views had concrete relevance most visibly in connection with newly-established British firms, whose misconceptions about the commercial potential of the Balkans partly contributed to their business failures in the region.

Publisher
Department of History, The University of Hull
Qualification level
Doctoral
Qualification name
PhD
Language
English
Extent
Filesize: NaNKB
Identifier
hull:1690
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