Normalizing the Balkans argues that, following the historical patterns of colonial psychoanalysis and psychiatry in British India and French Africa as well as Nazi psychoanalysis and psychiatry, the psychoanalysis and psychiatry of the Balkans during the 1990s deployed the language of psychic normality to represent the space of the Other as insane geography and to justify its military, or its symbolic, takeover. Freud's self-analysis, influenced by his journeys through the Balkans, was a harbinger of orientalism as articulated by Said. However, whereas Said intended Orientalism to be a critique of the historical construction of the Orient by, and in relation to, the West, for Freud it constituted a medical and psychic truth. Freud’s self-orientalization became the structural foundation of psychoanalytic language, which had tragic consequences in the Balkans when a demonic conjunction developed between the ingrained self-orientalizing structure of psychoanalysis and the Balkans' own propensity for self-orientalization. In the 1990s, in the ex-Yugoslav cultural space, psychoanalytic language was used by the Serb psychiatrist-politicians Drs. RaÅ¡kovic and Karadzic as conceptual justification for inter-ethnic violence. Kristeva's discourse on abject geography and Zizek's conceptualization of the Balkans as the Real have done violence to the region in an intellectual register on behalf of universal subjectivity. Following Gramsci’s and Said’s 'discourse-geography' Bjelic transmutes the psychoanalytic topos of the imaginary geography of the Balkans into the geopolitics inherent in psychoanalytic language itself, and takes to task the practices of normalization that underpin the Balkans’ politics of madness.
DuÅ¡an I. Bjelic is a Professor of Criminology at the University of Southern Maine, USA
'An extraordinary success at framing what the Balkans have meant for Balkan thinkers from Julia Kristeva to Slavoj Zizek. Given the role that psychoanalysis plays in such thinkers’ imaginary it is striking how this original book accesses the inner life of these images to help all of us grasp how identity is shaped, even our own, through images.' Sander L. Gilman, Emory University, USA 'In this ground-breaking work, DuÅ¡an Bjelic finds in "the Balkans" the roots/routes of an ongoing trauma. Through their discovery, a new reading of the legend of psychoanalytic politics becomes possible. From Freud's own difficult relationship with his father's history to a certain French-Freudian disavowal of "being on location," Normalizing the Balkans applies a unique brand of analytic sociology to "the Nazi symptom".' Laurence A. Rickels, Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden KÃ¼nste Karlsruhe, Germany / University of California, Santa Barbara, USA 'What should we make of the fact that ideological architects of the Bosnian Genocide were psychiatrists well acquainted with psychoanalytic theory? This discomfiting question reverberates throughout DuÅ¡an Bjeli’s fierce and learned book.' Journal of Modern Greek Studies 'There is a sorrow and an anger to DuÅ¡an I. Bjeli’s most recent book, neither of which is misplaced. Nor are they made explicit. Normalizing the Balkans is neither emotional nor emotive. It is, in the most classical sense of the term, scholarly. It is well researched and well documented. It covers vast yet always necessary ground - from Carl Jung’s dalliances with a Russian analysand and Sigmund Freud’s traumatic travels through the Balkans, to Julia Kristeva’s and Tzvetan Todorov’s very different voyages of return to Bulgaria.' Slavic Review