1st Edition

‘Balkanization’ and the Euro-Atlantic Processes of the (Western) Balkans Back to the Future

By Liridona Veliu Ashiku Copyright 2025
    248 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores how ‘balkanization’ as a discourse underpins the policies of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) towards the Western Balkans. It shows how EU and NATO policies have emerged from, and led to, the constant reinvention of the unity of the West through ‘balkanizing’ the region, and illustrates how this dynamic is maintained by and instrumentalized for the political elites. Through a genealogical analysis that stretches from the Balkans Wars to more recent events such as North Macedonia’s change of name in 2018, the author shows how Western policies have aimed at recreating the united West on the back of the ‘broken’ Balkans. The book will appeal to scholars and students of Southeast Europe, International Relations, Political Science, Peace and Conflict Studies, and History.


    Chapter 1 Studying the (Western) Balkans: Theory and Method of Discourse Analysis

    Chapter 2 ‘Balkanization’: Genealogy of the Discourse

    Chapter 3 (Socialist Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia: Oasis of Peace or Apple of Discord

    Chapter 4 (Socialist Yugoslav Republic of) Serbia: Once Upon a Time There Was One Country           

    Chapter 5 Serbia Anew is Born: The Exodus of Montenegro and Kosovo

    Chapter 6 FYRO/(North) Macedonia: The Sun too is a Star



    Liridona Veliu Ashiku is a faculty member at the Department of Political Science, Loyola University Chicago (LUC), and a researcher in Politics and International Relations, holding a PhD from Dublin City University. She is renowned for her specialization in ‘balkanization’, democratic transitions in post-socialist societies, and socio-spatial segregation. Veliu Ashiku is multilingual, and fluent in Albanian, Macedonian, and English. Her professional journey includes significant roles such as a Researcher at the Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame, the Institute for Racial Justice at Luc etc. A key highlight of her career is her 2018 publication, “#Balkanization: A Critical Study of Otherness through Twitter”. Veliu Ashiku’s contributions to the academic world are not limited to research; she is also a recognized educator, imparting her knowledge and expertise through teaching. Based in Chicago, IL, she continues to drive impactful research and educational endeavors.

    "This well-researched book is the most thorough examination of the ‘balkanization’ discourse in contemporary politics. Through unprecedented archival research, Veliu Ashiku demonstrates the discursive power of ‘balkanization’ and its profound impact on the aspirations of (Western) Balkan countries to join the EU and NATO. The book brilliantly deconstructs the complexity and mutating nature of the ‘balkanization’, and it is a must-read for anyone interested in European identity discourse, state labeling, and regional integration." - Gëzim VisokaAssociate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Dublin City University, Ireland

    "To a historian like myself, usually suspicious of political science modeling, this book is untypically gratifying. The author offers a chronological journey, tracing the roots of ‘balkanization’ from the tumultuous times of the First World War, and guiding readers through the myriad events that have defined the region in the modern era. It is perhaps for the best that Western politicians will not read this book, but it will be broadly appreciated by those interested in and caring about the Balkans." - Maria TodorovaGutgsell Professor of History Emerita, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States

    "This book inverts the discourse of the EU/NATO enlargement as the benevolent spread of guarantees to peripheral others and demonstrates instead how the fragmented, balkanized, heathens may be necessary for Western unity. Richly documented genealogy of ‘balkanization’ and masterfully analyzed discursive games between Western and Balkan politicians expose the limits of techno-bureaucratic approaches to European integration, demanding a fundamental re-think of the European project from the perspective of its margins." - Aida A. HozicAssociate Professor of International Relations, University of Florida, United States